Bipolar Depressive Disorder

2013 Bipolar Update

Bipolar Depressive Disorder

Bipolar depressive disorder is just one of the depressive disorders. It is however distinguished from the other depressive disorders by the presence of one or more manic episodes. A manic episode is a period of elevated mood and energy.

Bipolar depressive disorder is known by several other names such as manic depression, bipolar affective disorder and manic depressive disorder. Despite the several different names, this mental illness is quite serious and is known to be one of the causes of suicide. It is said that this disorder is one of the major causes of disability in the world and statistics show that is affects more than 5 million adults in the United States alone.

There are 4 different categories of bipolar depressive disorder. These categorizations are based on the symptoms experienced. A doctor needs to make a proper diagnosis of the specific type of the disorder a patient is experiencing so as to tailor treatment to their specific needs. The 4 different sub-types of bipolar depressive disorder are bipolar disorder I, bipolar disorder II, cyclothymic disorder and bipolar disorder not otherwise specified (BP-NOS).

The fourth category, bipolar disorder not otherwise specified, is diagnosed when the patient’s symptoms do not fall under any of the other 3 categories.

To diagnose the specific type of bipolar disorder, the doctor will carry out a clinical examination of the patient. He will also ask questions of the patient regarding the symptoms experienced and the duration they last. He will also rely on the accounts of close family of friends. He will use the listed criteria in the DSM IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). Diagnosis may involve a process of elimination to rule out other causes.

Diagnosis can be made even more difficult by co-existing conditions such as substance abuse, ADHD (attention deficit hyperactive disorder), OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) and panic disorder.

Bipolar depressive disorder is thought to be caused by chemical imbalances in the brain. Some studies also suggest a genetic link in this disorder as quite often more than one family member could be suffering from bipolar disorder. Environmental factors could also play a significant role.

Bipolar depressive disorder is a chronic illness and will require long term treatment. Treatment plan will include medication, talk therapy, emotional and social support and lifestyle changes. Medications prescribed for bipolar disorder are mood stabilizers, antipsychotic medications and antidepressants. Antidepressants are used for depressive episodes while the antipsychotics and mood stabilizers are used for manic episodes. Lithium is one of the more widely prescribed mood stabilizers.

The medications can have some unpleasant side effects and it is crucial to talk with the doctor should you experience any. The doctor should be able to find the best selection of drugs for each individual case given time and patient cooperation. The bipolar disorder signs shown by the patient will go a long way in diagnosing a bipolar depressive disorder and in determining which of the four categories it should be placed.