The following is an excerpt from an article I wrote for healthyplace.com on the difference between bipolar depression and uni polar depression. I wonder how well you can do! A lot of it was new to me as I wrote the article!
A Quiz: Name that Depression
The following examples will help you (or someone who cares about a person with depression) get really clear on the depression you experience. This can lead to the right treatment plan.
1. Have you ever been depressed and thought, “What is going on? I felt fantastic just last month! I had so much energy and life was great. I don’t understand this. Nothing happened? What’s wrong with me? Who am I?” and then you feel fine again a few months later. (BP Depression with rapid cycling between mania and depression.)
2. You went through a job loss and got depressed for the first time and then the depression went away when you got another job. (Situational Depression.)
3. You were depressed, took an antidepressant and then suddenly things got better. You felt your head clear and even your vision got razor sharp where colors were gorgeous and people looked beautiful. Life was full of hope and you couldn’t wait to make plans for the future. If someone said you seemed abnormally upbeat, you said, “I finally found a medication that worked and now you want me to go back to being depressed?” (Antidepressant induced mania.)
4. After a down mood for over a year you went through months of feeling great where you partied a lot, made friends easily, worked effortlessly and had a lot of ideas. The good mood raised a lot of confusion in your friends and family, but not enough to see it as an illness. You thought, “This is the real me! The depression is finally gone!” (A manic episode after a long BP Depression.)
4. Felt depressed and uncomfortable with agitation, trouble sleeping and the fear that someone was following you. Your thoughts were racing and your patience was low. You felt a lot of suspicion, heard voices and yet you had a lot of energy. You sometimes had suicidal thoughts. (Mixed episode with depression, mania and psychosis.)
6. People commented on your down mood and seemed confused as to why you were always depressed when you had so much to live for. You had trouble getting out of bed, had no enthusiasm for life, cried a lot and felt hopeless. Your work and relationships suffered. You had either been like this for months or had a low level depression for years. You found an antidepressant that worked and have not experienced depression again. (Unipolar depression)
7. You’re depressed and have tried five antidepressants. They don’t help at all and you feel more and more despondent. Your health care professional says, “I have no idea why these meds aren’t working. There is a drug called Lamictal that works with depression, let’s see if that will help.” You take the Lamictal and feel better. The doctor asks, “Have you ever had a mood where you were filled with energy and didn’t sleep much but were not tired at all the next day?” This question finally leads to a discussion about bipolar disorder and you both realize the medications didn’t work because you have BP Depression and have had mild mania for years without knowing what it was. Eventually the illness was stabilized with Lamictal and an antipsychotic. And you can truthfully say, “I finally feel like the real me.” (BP Depression)
What above situation describes you (or the person you care about)? Is treatment correct and adequate? The answer to these questions can help you take charge of your BP Depression so that you can get an official diagnosis, find the right combination of medications and create a treatment plan that is BP Depression specific. It may be scary, overwhelming and confusing to realize you have Bipolar Depression, but the diagnosis is a life saver. It makes sense to spend a few years finding the right treatment plan than experiencing a lifetime of depression. The results can lead to a stable life that is filled with great relationships, productive work, a true sense of purpose and joy.
This is an excerpt from my article on the difference between uni polar depression and bipolar depression published on healthyplace.com. The article is available in full on the menu to your right.