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Depression and Bipolar disorder (also known as manic depression) are both highly treatable medical illnesses. Unfortunately many people do not get the help they need because of misunderstanding the issues surrounding the illnesses or the fear associated with stigma. The following information can help you learn more about the signs and symptoms of mood disorders so that you can get the help you need for yourself or a loved one.
Symptoms and Signs of depression:
● Prolonged sadness or unexplained crying spells
● Significant changes in appetite and sleep patterns
● Irritability, anger, worry, agitation, anxiety, racing thoughts
● Pessimism, indifference
● Loss of energy, persistent lethargy
● Feelings of guilt, worthlessness
● Inability to concentrate, indecisiveness
● Inability to take pleasure in former interests, social withdrawal
● Unexplained aches and pains
● Recurring thoughts of death or suicide
If you experience five or more of these symptoms for more than two weeks or if any of these symptoms interfere with work or family activities, consult with your doctor for a thorough evaluation. This should include a complete physical exam (some other illnesses can cause these symptoms) open and honest about how you are feeling and and a review of your family’s history.
Symptoms and Signs of bipolar disorder:
Bipolar disorder differs significantly from clinical depression, although the symptoms for the depressive phase of the illness are similar. People who have bipolar disorder talk about experiencing mood shifts. These swings can be severe, ranging from extreme energy to deep despair. These mood shifts disrupt normal life activities and distinguish bipolar mood episodes from ordinary mood changes. The shifts may be mild ranging from sadness to irritability or restlessness.
Symptoms of mania - the "highs" of bipolar disorder:
● Increased physical and mental activity and energy
● Heightened mood, exaggerated optimism and self-confidence
● Excessive irritability, aggressive behavior
● Decreased need for sleep without experiencing fatigue
● Grandiose delusions, inflated sense of self-importance
● Racing speech, racing thoughts, flight of ideas
● Impulsiveness, spending money, poor judgment, distractibility
● Reckless behavior
● In the most severe cases, delusions and hallucinations
Symptoms of bipolar depression - the "lows" of bipolar disorder
See: Symptoms and Signs of depression above.
Cyclothymia is a Bipolar sub-type that causes emotional highs and lows like those of Bipolar II, but with shorter duration and higher frequency. It is referred to as Exuberant Personality in Asia & Europe and may be characterized as Bipolar III.
The mood shifts in cyclothymia aren't as extreme as those in people with bipolar disorders. People with cyclothymia can typically function in daily life, though it may be difficult. Symptoms include intermittent psychological highs and lows that may become more pronounced over time. Treatment usually involves counseling and therapy. In rare cases, medications may be used.
Dysthymia is a milder, but long-lasting form of depression. It’s also called persistent depressive disorder. People with this condition may also have bouts of major depression at times. Each person may experience symptoms differently.