Bipolar Depression, more commonly known as Bipolar Disorder, is characterized by severe mood swings, which can alternate between periods of depression and elation. It is these extremes of mood that gave rise to its old name of Manic Depression.
Bipolar Depression Symptoms
The bipolar depression symptoms can vary from person to person, and also in their frequency and severity. Some people have more manic episodes and less depression, others experience more depression and less mania, and some experience both episodes equally.
When the individual is experiencing an episode of depression, the symptoms can range from fairly mild depression to very severe, and can make day to day living very difficult. The symptoms which may be experienced include feelings of hopeless or sadness, loss of interest in carrying out daily tasks, withdrawal from participating in social opportunities and hobbies, difficultly sleeping, feelings of low self esteem and unworthiness and changes to their appetite. They may even experience thoughts of suicide, and feel that their life is no longer worth living.
When the individual is experiencing a manic episode, they can feel full of energy, elated and euphoric. They may appear hyperactive, and get by on very little sleep. Their movements and speech can become faster, and they may have feelings of invincibility. Whilst in the manic phase, they might make and try to carry out grandiose plans. At other times, the individual may only display fairly mild mania; this is known as hypo-mania.
However, in some instances a manic episode can spiral out of control and behavior can become more extreme, reckless and even dangerous. People experiencing mania often run up large amounts of debt, gamble, drive recklessly or engage in inappropriate sexual behavior. They may also become aggressive, lashing out at whoever tries to reason with them or disagrees with their plans. They may become delusional, believing they are destined for great things, and could even experience voices in their head.
What Causes Bipolar Depression?
It is not known exactly what causes it, but there does appear to be a genetic link. It is thought that a physical problem within the brain mechanism which controls mood may also be a cause.
Bipolar Disorder affects both men and women equally, and generally develops during or after the teenage years. Occasionally it can develop later in life, but this is unusual. Illness or a traumatic event can sometimes trigger episodes of Bipolar.
Bipolar Depression Treatment
Bipolar depression is generally treated with medication to control the mood swings and prevent them from developing into depressive or manic episodes. If either episode does reoccur, then further medication may be required to treat these. Individuals can also learn to recognize the signs that they are about to experience an episode so that they can seek help. Some people find psychological treatment such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to be beneficial.