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The Warning Signs of Depression and Bipolar Disorder

The Warning Signs of Depression and Bipolar Disorder

Symptoms of bipolar disorder include periods of elevated mood followed by periods of depression

The warning signs before a negative health condition develops are useful to both receive a quick diagnosis and take the correct steps afterwards to limit the negative effects. These warning signs are varied and are often confused with other conditions especially in the case of mental health issues.

With this in mind, it is not hard to see how serious illnesses such as depression and bipolar disorder can be overlooked after the first symptoms are mistaken as sadness, normal mood changes or simple everyday occurrences. How can you spot probable signs of a disorder of this kind? What should you do afterwards?

Bipolar Symptoms and Warning Signs

A key word to describe symptoms and warning signs of bipolar disorder is unusual. A person with bipolar disorder sees his everyday life affected by unusual shifts in his emotional state that both debilitate and depress him to the point of not being able to perform normal life or puts him on an unusual high state of feeling empowered to do anything. These changes may appear to be triggered by an incident or activity but most often occur with no apparent reason. People with bipolar disorder or depression face stigmas related to their uncontrollable mania or depression. .

In the BMJ a popular international journal of medicine, we find studies explaining characteristics and dangers of leaving bipolar disorder or depression untreated. For example one of the studies found that over 6% of the patients diagnosed with bipolar disorder commit suicide after severe episodes of bipolar depression. http://www.bmj.com/content/345/bmj.e8508.

Since the problem is of such magnitude and the risks are not to be overlooked, it is good to be on the lookout whenever signs of bipolar disorder appear. For example, medical assessment would be advisable after detecting bipolar symptoms such as the following:

  • Periods of elevated mood followed by periods of depression and vice versa
  • Bad judgment and poor decisions during a state of mania
  • Periods of sleeplessness, irritability or anger
  • Periods of listlessness, oversleeping or giving up on life
  • Suicidal thoughts and isolation during bipolar depression
  • Episodes of mania or depression that last for several days
  • Psychotic symptoms (hallucinations or delusions) in severe cases
  • Changes in behavior that are noticed by other people
  • Extreme changes in sleep or eating patterns
  • Fast talking, or jumpy, nervous body movements during mania

People around early adulthood are more susceptible to develop bipolar disorder although a person might begin with symptoms at an earlier age or later in life.

As it is explained above, bipolar depression represents a significant part of the condition, and sometimes this creates confusion between depression and bipolar disorder. Although a health professional is the one with the faculties to make the right assessment, it is good to be informed of the differences in order to take prompt action.

The Difference between Clinical Depression and Bipolar Depression

The easiest way to understand the difference between these two conditions is by having a basic knowledge of clinical depression. Clinical depression is diagnosed after a person develops feelings of despair, sadness, hopelessness and other similar emotions, which are persistent and affect his everyday life. Just like bipolar depression, there is a high risk of suicidal thoughts or ideas of self-harm. However, with clinical depression the counterpart of bipolar depression is missing. That is, there is no state of mania. With depression the person only suffers from a low mood that affects his self-esteem and takes out all interest in formerly enjoyed activities. http://web.archive.org/web/20110727123744/http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression/nimhdepression.pdf.

Before diagnosing either clinical depression or bipolar disorder, a doctor performs a comprehensive examination that includes trying to identify periods of mania that would indicate bipolar disorder instead of just clinical depression. Some warning signs to consider regarding major depressive disorder include the following:

  • Low mood that lasts several days or weeks
  • Inability to experience pleasure
  • Regret and guilt with no apparent reason
  • Insomnia or oversleeping
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Social isolation
  • Lethargic behavior as detected by people around the sufferer
  • Expressions that denote worthlessness or self-hatred
  • Chronic worry or anxiety

In some cases, though, a person might present symptoms similar to those mentioned above as a normal reaction to a difficult event in life or as a side effect from a medical treatment. Although this can also be described as depression, the episodes are of considerably less magnitude and last only for a brief period of time. With clinical depression, on the other hand, the symptoms may appear with no apparent triggering event, and episodes may last for a considerable period of time severely affecting the life of the patient.

What to Do Upon Detecting a Possible Case of Depression or Bipolar?

It is never advisable to self-medicate any health issue, and mental health disorders such as the ones considered here are not the exception. Self-medication without the proper diagnosis of a physician is often ineffective and, as many studies conducted throughout the years have found, this practice could easily lead to substance abuse and addiction. The reason behind this is often the use of uncontrolled doses and the use of psychoactive drugs like clonazepam that only mask the symptoms without addressing the real problem. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1361129/

For instance many people who struggle with bipolar disorder or depression also struggle with anxiety. This can cause the person who suffers from these difficult emotions to wish for a better emotional state. This can lead to abuse of clonazepam or other benzodiazepine drugs. The urge to feel better may lead to dependence and ultimately, addiction.

Upon discovering a possible mental health issue, the most reliable course of action is to get medical help. A doctor can make the right diagnosis after a complete evaluation and can prescribe the right form of non-addictive treatment for your particular circumstances. Nonetheless, it is always useful to acquire reliable information from accurate sources regarding treatments for addiction and mental health disorders. For example, many who struggle with both emotional difficulty and addiction have asked their doctors about dual diagnosis rehab centers. These rehab centers have the ability to treat both addiction and mental disorders at the same time. Regardless of the selected option, being well informed is always an effective approach when confronting harmful health conditions.

Call our toll-free helpline, and one of our trained recovery specialists will be glad to answer your questions regarding treatments for mental health disorders and/or addiction. Our phone services are completely confidential and free to you. We can tell you how bipolar help is available through counseling, family support or even a Dual Diagnosis rehab center and help you find services that meet your needs. One call might be all it takes to start in the path of recovery.