Symptoms of depression include pervasive feelings of sadness, hopelessness or guilt. You may be irritable, sleep too much or not enough, lose interest in enjoyable activities, withdraw from loved ones and have trouble concentrating. You may even feel suicidal.
If you have bipolar depression, you will also have periods of mania in between depressive episodes. Mania can consist of racing thoughts, insomnia, poor judgment, excessive energy, impulsivity and restlessness. Unlike a simple "up" mood, mania can have a negative impact on your life.
An episode of bipolar depression can last several weeks or months, but people with rapid-cycling bipolar can shift from manic to depressed to "level" and back in a matter of hours.
Effects of Mania on Depression
If you make poor choices during a manic episode, the realization of what you've done can make your depression worse.
During a mixed state, you have both manic and depressed symptoms. You may be restless, impulsive, suicidal and withdrawn all at the same time.
Taking an antidepressant alone can make bipolar symptoms worse, so your doctor may want to prescribe a mood stabilizer first. Later, he may add an antidepressant. Talk therapy may be helpful as well. Treatment for bipolar disorder is usually lifelong.
Bipolar disorder is characterized by periods of depression and mania, and most people seek help after a depressive episode. How can you tell whether you have major depression or depression associated with bipolar disorder?