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19 Jan

What is Bipolar Depression? – 3 Prominent Differences in Comparison to Regular Depression

Like many people, you probably realize that regular depression and bipolar depression are different.

However, you may not know exactly what that encompasses.

Knowing the differences between the two, though, is important for ensuring you or someone you love gets the right help.

What is Depression and Bipolar Disorder?

First, let’s briefly review what depression is.

Also called major depression, the condition exists when someone exhibits depressive symptoms for an extended period of time. This is more than simply feeling “down” for a day or two.

  • Feelings of sadness and helplessness
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Lethargy
  • Altered sleep patterns
  • Trouble focusing and concentrating
  • Thoughts of suicide

Bipolar disorder, on the other hand, is a mental health illness where one experiences changes in mood. These include periods of intense activity followed by down periods similar to a regular depressed state.

In general, there are three main differences between depression and bipolar depression.

Difference #1: Mania

One major difference between regular depression and bipolar depression is the existence of mania with bipolar disorder.

If someone is having a manic episode, the symptoms will most likely include:

  • Increased levels of energy
  • Feeling that they can accomplish many tasks
  • Engaging in risky activities
  • Feelings of being “amped-up”
  • Racing thoughts
  • Being very talkative

As you can imagine, if you are in a manic stage of bipolar disorder, you could either be extremely creative or destructive. The issue is that this won’t last forever, and inevitably, the pendulum will swing back the other direction.

Difference #2: Consistency

Another difference between depression and bipolar depression is consistency, or lack thereof.

With regular depression, the symptoms will be consistent for an extended period of time. This usually spans at least two weeks. So, when you’re experiencing depression you will consistently be in a down and depressed mood.

However, with bipolar depression, you will be all over the map. A manic episode can last as little as a week or be as long as six months if left untreated. This can be confusing for both you and others if you have not been diagnosed. The behavior will seem extremely erratic.

Difference #3: Causes

To be clear, depression and bipolar depression actually have several similarities when it comes to their origins. Both can be caused by brain chemistry or having a family history of the condition.

However, one major root difference between the two is life circumstances. Depression often develops when you have a major trauma or loss in life.

For example,

  • Witnessing or experiencing a violent act
  • Suffering from abuse
  • A major change
  • Suffering the death of a family member or loved one

Bipolar depression, on the other hand, does not involve life circumstances as much. Its origins are often found at the genetic level and involves brain chemistry dysfunction.

What Should You Do If You Suspect You Have Bipolar Depression?

If you think you have bipolar depression it is important to first get a diagnosis. You need to see a professional who can provide an assessment and determine whether or not you have one of the conditions. Once you have confirmation, you can begin getting the help you need.

That usually involves a combination of both medication and counseling because:

1. Bipolar depression will almost always require you to take medication.

2. You need therapy to process and understand what is happening and dealing with these erratic feelings.

Remember, bipolar depression are serious conditions that, in comparison with regular depression, has very specific differences which can be hard to understand. However, it is possible to get clarity about the symptoms and effects of bipolar depression if you find knowledgeable sources. In the end, this condition does not have to define your life.