Bipolar disorders often manifest in contrasting episodes of mania and depression. In fact, they were once called “manic-depression.” Between these episodes, the person may feel neutral or “normal.” Of course, such symptoms can apply to everyone from time to time. We all have ups and downs, good days and bad. With bipolar disorders, however, these shifts can last for days, weeks, months, or years.
In children, bipolar disorders are sometimes confused with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It’s crucial to clarify such diagnoses in order to assign the proper treatment. A good start is to learn how to recognize depression in people with bipolar disorders.
How to Know Mania in Bipolar Disorder When You See It
Let’s begin by taking a brief look at the common symptoms displayed during the manic episodes of bipolar disorders:
- Talking rapidly and frequently
- Increased activity, in general
- Feeling less of a need for sleep
- Engaging in impulsive and/or risky behaviors
- Racing thoughts
- An unpredictable blend of euphoria and irritability
How to Know Depression in Bipolar Disorder When You See It
People incorrectly diagnosed with other forms of depression often turn out to have a form of bipolar disorder. Again, accurate diagnosis is essential. Someone with bipolar disorder will not do well on antidepressant medications. In fact, such meds can worsen their symptoms. With this in mind, here are some signs to look out for when trying to discern depression in bipolar disorder:
This may sound obvious but it’s much more than just having a down day. It is a long-term mood that intertwines with feelings of
2. Losing Interest in Feeling Happy
The sadness discussed above can deepen to a point where it seems pointless to engage in activities that once pleased you. This can range from hobbies and interests to more fundamental activities like having sex. Withdrawing from friends and family is another red flag.
3. Sleep Disturbances
You may experience insomnia or excessive sleep. You may fluctuate between the two extremes which only serves to exacerbate the mental health challenges.
4. Eating-Related Disturbances
Your appetite can shift dramatically in either direction. As a result, unintended and sudden weight loss or gain is another sign to watch for.
5. Low Energy
Depressive episodes in bipolar disorders may cause debilitating fatigue, palpable restlessness, or a slowing down of your motor skills.
6. Brain Fog
Bipolar depression can leave you feeling indecisive, with memory and concentration problems as well.
7. Dark Thoughts
Pay very close attention if you are feeling preoccupied with rumination about death, dying, or suicide.
In rare instances, a very severe depressive episode can result in psychotic symptoms like hallucinations and delusions.
How Therapy Can Help
For starters, a skilled mental health professional is best positioned to differentiate between bipolar disorders and another type of depressive disorder. Once this assessment has been made, the correct treatment plan can be designed and monitored appropriately. This will likely include a blend of psychotherapy and medication. Therapy can enrich and heal your life. Studies show that when used along with medication, psychotherapy can help with:
- Reducing the rates of shifting into depressive or manic states
- Monitoring and managing symptoms
- Juggling day-to-day routines
- Challenging negative behavior and thought patterns
- Improving relationships
- Assisting others in your life understand and help with your condition
Your therapist will not judge you. They can help you address your treatment and therapy schedule as you make the changes you desire.
If you feel plagued by depression-like symptoms and you cannot discern a cause on your own, let’s talk. Do not attempt to self-diagnosis or self-treat; reach out instead. You can begin the process by reading more about depression therapy. Then contact me for a confidential consultation as soon as possible.