Bipolar Depression Disorder<< Go Back
Most people know that bipolar disorder – also known as manic depression – involves the person going from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows with their mood, over and over again with some level of frequency. What they likely don’t know is that bipolar disorder sufferers usually spend a greater amount of time in their depressive (down) episodes than they do in their manic (up) episodes. The split between the two is often quite pronounced for sufferers, and so much so that bipolar depression disorder is defined as its own condition. As you might guess given opposite-extremes nature of bipolar disorder, bipolar depression disorder symptoms differ greatly from those seen during the person’s manic episodes.
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Some people, however, will still need a more basic introduction in response to what is bipolar depression. We’ll provide that here, as well as go into bipolar depression disorder symptoms in greater detail before looking at treatments for bipolar depression disorder and how they might differ from approaches to treating standard bipolar disorder.
Bipolar Depression Disorder Facts
- Bipolar depression disorder occurs at a nearly equal rate between men and women
- Severe bipolar depression disorder is most closely associated with Bipolar 2 Disorder because it has the sufferer in their depressive episode for much longer periods of time
- Bipolar depression disorder is effectively treated with most of the same medications that will be prescribed for standard bipolar disorder
Bipolar Depression Causes
As it is with bipolar disorder generally, it is believed that people will inherit a genetic predisposition for it from parents or a preceding generation on either the mother or father’s side. As far as the actual workings of what goes ‘wrong’ in the brain to cause bipolar depression disorder, it’s explicitly related to imbalances in two specific chemical neurotransmitters (serotonin and dopamine) and / or misfunctions in the brain with the way these neurotransmitters are utilized.
Bipolar Depression Disorder Symptoms
It’s possible to define symptoms for bipolar disorder as a whole, but the fact it’s made up of two very distinct and entirely different parts – the manic episode, and the depressive one – makes it so that it’s important to have an understanding of the specific symptoms of each and how they represent the person being at one end or the other of the spectrum when it comes to bipolar disorder.
Common Bipolar depression disorder symptoms include:
- Feelings of sadness, constant worry, or hopelessness
- Strong anxiety
- Having little to no energy or interest in participating in activities enjoyed previously
- Difficulty sleeping (insomnia) or sleeping too much (hypersomnia)
- Difficulty getting out of bed and being productive during the day
- Overeating, or undereating
- Difficulty making decisions
- Inability to concentrate
- Restlessness or slowed behaviors
- Feelings of guilt and worthlessness
- Uncontrollable crying
- In severe cases, thoughts of suicide or premature death
Bipolar Depression Disorder Treatment
With an answer to what is bipolar depression firmly in place now, we can switch our focus to ways bipolar depression disorder is treated. As mentioned above, the pharmaceuticals used to treat it are much the same ones for someone who has the most common form of bipolar disorder – bipolar 1 disorder. Bipolar depression will be more pronounced in people with bipolar 2 disorder simply because these individuals will be spending so much more time in their depressive episodes than people with bipolar 1 disorder.
The medications prescribed are much the same for people with either type of bipolar disorder (should be mentioned there is a 3rd type – cyclothymia – which has milder symptoms and has shifts between episodes over much longer periods of time). They include Zyprexa (Olanzapine), Abilify (Aripiprazole), Seroquel (Quetiapine), and Carbolith (Lithium Carbonate).
Treatment for bipolar depression disorder nearly always must involve psychotherapy being provided at the same time the individual is taking mood-stabilizing medication. CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) helps suffers learn how to change negative or harmful thoughts that promote or intensify bipolar depression disorder symptoms. Psychoeducation with focuses on coping strategies, interventional communication and problem-solving techniques and more is also very helpful for people with this condition.
The primary focus with these therapies is to educate the individuals about trigger points and signs of their impending mood swings so that they can either take preventative action on their own, by any number of means discussed with their therapist, or remove themselves from environments that expose them to these triggers that can lead to either a manic or depressive episode.
Another therapeutic approach that’s gaining a reputation for treating bipolar depressive disorder effectively is interpersonal and social rhythm therapy (IPSRT). It is less mainstream at this time, but many therapist tout the way it focuses on the stabilization of daily rhythms – sleeping / waking / mealtimes etc. to increase overall mood.
Lifestyle Changes for Reducing Bipolar Depressive Symptoms
Taking medication and gaining the benefits of psychotherapy go a long with relieving bipolar depression disorder symptoms for bipolar people. Many experts on the condition will also suggest that those undergoing treatment also follow certain lifestyle guidelines to aid them on their road to being able to manage the condition. The suggestions include:
- Avoid excessive alcohol consumption or the use of drugs
- Try to have a firmer routine for every day, and stick to it as best you can (the basic premise behind IPSRT therapy)
- Avoid major life changes while in an episode (including both manic AND depressive)
- Be more assertive in asking family members or friends for support
- Increase your level of vigorous physical activity to promote enhanced production of BDNF (brain-derived neurotropic factor – this neurochemical is essential for growth and repair of the body and brain, and more of it means you’re less susceptible to the symptoms of mental illnesses)
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