All About Depression, unipolar and bipolar disorders

Unipolar and Bipolar disorders have haunted people throughout the years, making it difficult for them to maintain what they deemed as a normal lifestyle. They watch through cold eyes as others live on normally and wish they too could frolic about so effortlessly. It can make them bitter, angry, or even suicidal. I myself have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder for five years now. I know from experience just how hard it is to want to live a life you expected for yourself, but have a curve ball thrown at you that takes you way off course and plants you where you never saw yourself. My mother suffers from depression so I know the dangers of that disease as well. Happiness does not come easily, and we both must strive to have it. Minor setbacks discourage us from wanting to try again and can put us in a rut for weeks to come. Not knowing or understanding how to handle these disorders can be as precarious as walking around with a loaded gun.

These two mood disorders can be easily mistaken for one another without a meticulous examination. Symptoms of unipolar disorder include feelings of hopelessness, uselessness, and despair, lethargy, inability to fall asleep or stay asleep, physical exhaustion, and permanent feelings of anxiety. The sufferer can also experience lack of concentration, a decline in their sex drive, and sudden irrational fears of death and suicide. There are many causes of depression, all depending on the person. It can be sudden even though everything else in the person’s life is running efficiently, or it can be due to a traumatic event, such as the loss of a loved one or battling a chronic illness. Other causes that are less common are hormonal changes, alcoholism or a drug dependency.

If a person is diagnosed with bipolar disorder however, periods of mania or hypomania have to accompany periods of depression. A person who suffers from bipolar disorder, also known as manic depressive illness will have periods of depression, periods of normalcy, and periods of exaggerated happiness known as a manic episode. They can also jump from mania to depression without a period of normalcy in between, as each person suffering from it differs. A period of mania is described as extreme elation, sometimes accompanied by delusions and hallucinations, and has to be present within the person for at least a week. If what a person experiences is within a shorter time frame it is then classified as hypo-mania. It can also cause poor judgment, and denial that anything is wrong.

Bipolar disorder is classified in more than one type. There is Bipolar I disorder, Bipolar II disorder, Rapid Cycling and Cyclothymia. Bipolar I disorder is classified when the sufferer has a manic episode, but sometimes does not have a depressive episode. Bipolar II disorder is characterized by a period of hypo-mania, as well as a depressive episode. Rapid Cycling is classified when the sufferer experiences either manic episodes, depressive episodes, or even mixed episodes at least four times in one calendar year. Lastly, Cyclothymia is characterized by the sufferer experiencing numerous hypo-manic episodes, and periods of depression that are not severe enough to be considered a major depressive episode. With all that considered, it goes to show why diagnosing a person with the right type of Bipolar disorder can be quite a challenge. Like depression, Bipolar disorder can be brought on by a number of factors, such as genetics and environmental factors like life stresses. Primarily it is believed to be triggered by an imbalance of brain chemicals causing the wide range of symptoms.

Treatment for bipolar disorder include medication, therapy, and in extreme cases, electroconvulsive therapy. In general the medication and therapy is used in combination with one another, and two sets of drugs will be issued to the patient, one drug to treat the mania, and another to treat the depression. Anti-depressants alone cannot be used for they can cause ill effects in the patient. Anti-convulsants are commonly used as well as mood stabilizing drugs to help cope with the many symptoms of the disorder.

For unipolar disorder the treatment is essentially the same, except anti-depressants are prescribed instead of anti-convulsants or anti-psychotics. Regular therapy sessions are urged as well, to ensure that the patient is getting someone who is reaching out to show they care. A supportive family can also help diminish some of the feelings of worthlessness and self-doubt. Used in conjunction, those three can really change a sufferer’s once bleak outlook on life.

In conclusion, Unipolar and Bipolar disorders are close to one in the same, but have few characteristics that differentiate them from one another. It can be very difficult for a psychiatrist to diagnose one from the other without looking thoroughly through a patient’s past and current symptoms and feelings. Both disorders are debilitating and can cause a person to feel resentment at the hardships they must endure in their life as part of the disorder. It’s intricate, but one can learn to live a decent and happy life with either disorder if they work at it enough.

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