Depression And Bipolar Disorders

2013 Bipolar Update

Depression And Bipolar Disorders

Depression and bipolar disorders are always linked. This is because of the nature of the bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder that is made up of cycling episodes of depression and mania. It is for this reason that bipolar disorders were previously and are still sometimes referred to as manic depression.

The extent to which depression and bipolar disorders are linked will depend on the specific type of bipolar disorder involved. There are 4 main types of bipolar disorder and these are bipolar disorder I, bipolar disorder II, cyclothymia or cyclothymic disorder and bipolar disorder not otherwise specified (BD-NOS).

Bipolar I disorder is characterized based on one or more than one manic episode. The occurrence of a depressive episode is not usually required to make a diagnosis of this type of bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder II is characterized by one or more than one major depressive episode and one or more than one hypomanic episode. Cyclothymia is characterized by some depressive episodes which do not quite qualify as major depressive episodes, as well as hypomanic episodes.

The 4th category of bipolar disorders is simply used when an individual’s symptoms do not quite fall under any of the other 3 categories. Bipolar disorder II is therefore the sub-type with the greatest link between depression and bipolar disorders.

As depression and bipolar disorders are very significantly related, there is the possibility of misdiagnosis of either one of the illnesses and also misdiagnosis with other illnesses. Bipolar disorders are quite often misdiagnosed as depression (major depressive disorder).

A major reason for this is people will rarely seek medical attention during a hypomanic or manic episode as they feel fantastic. Then when they visit a doctor while suffering from depression, they are unlikely to list their other symptoms. There are however significant differences between depression and bipolar disorders. A significant difference is the presence of mania in bipolar disorders which is not present in depression.

Misdiagnosing depression and bipolar disorders may have serious implications. For instance, when an individual suffering from bipolar disorder is misdiagnosed as suffering from unipolar depression, treatment will most often involve antidepressant medications. In this case, antidepressant medications could make the illness worse. When treating bipolar disorders, antidepressants are used in conjunction with mood stabilizers.

A correct diagnosis is pivotal in achieving successful treatment outcomes. Early diagnosis is also crucial as it has a higher chance of fewer disruptions in personal life and work life. To help with diagnosis of bipolar disorders, doctors make reference to the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual on Mental Disorders, fourth edition). This manual by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) list the symptoms that should be present for a diagnosis to be made.

Depression and bipolar disorders are all treatable. Treatment is however long term as these disorders are chronic and must be watched closely. For anyone interested our website has many articles discussing bipolar disorder signs.