Differentiating bipolar disorder from depression

Differentiating bipolar disorder from depression

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) defines a mental illness as a mental health condition that alters an individual’s ability to think, feel or express his/her thoughts and emotions. Mental health disorders affect millions of people and the U.S. is no different. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), approximately one in five American adults or 18.5 percent of the total adult population experiences a mental illness in a given year.

Mental illnesses are characterized by symptoms like changed moods, disturbed sleep patterns, feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness and extreme sadness.

Though these symptoms are used to identify a mental health condition, it can be easy to confuse the diagnosis, as symptoms exhibited by the person might be common in two different mental health conditions. This is especially seen in the case of bipolar disorder (BD) and depression.

Depression is a part of bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a severe mental health condition that makes an individual experience unusual mood swings and changes in energy levels to carry out activities and day-to-day tasks. According to the NIMH, approximately 2.6 percent U.S. adults live with bipolar disorder.

An individual affected by bipolar disorder, experiences episodes of feeling extremely low, known as depressive stage, followed by episodes of feeling extremely high, known as manic stage. However, there can also be certain cases when a person might experience mixed episodes with symptoms of mania and depression occurring at the same time.

Some common symptoms experienced by an individual with BD include elevated mood, high energy and self-esteem, lessened sleep, rapid speech, and irritation, among others.

Mania is not a part of depression

Depression, also known as major depressive disorder (MDD), is a form of mental illness that makes a person feel sad, low and irritated. The NIMH states that approximately 6.9 percent U.S. adults had at least one major depressive episode in 2014.

An individual affected by depression generally develops symptoms such as persistent sadness, anxiety, feelings of hopelessness and irritability, loss of interest in hobbies and activities initially enjoyed, and low energy, among others.

The absence of a manic phase distinguishes depression from BD. The affected person feels persistently gloomy and low and fails to enjoy, or at times, even react to major life-changing incidents.

Diagnosing bipolar disorder is difficult

Depression can be diagnosed if a loved one or a mental health expert recognizes any of its symptoms in an individual. On the other hand, the diagnosis of BD is difficult as a person suffering from it may exhibit symptoms that are similar to those of depression. Also, a person tends to seek assistance from a doctor only in his/her depressive episodes. It is also likely that a person with BD might continue to exhibit signs of depression without experiencing mania or hypomania for years.

Therefore, in order to ensure an accurate analysis of the condition, seeking help immediately from a mental health expert is the best course. He/she would be the right person to diagnose and treat this mental health illness.

Treatment is important

Sound mental health acts as the foundation stone for an individual’s ability to think, communicate, and perform well in the society. It is, therefore, important to maintain personal and emotional well-being and seek immediate help in the case of a mental health disorder.

Treatment in the form of medications or psychotherapies can help those who are affected by depression or bipolar disorder. If you or someone you know is struggling with BD or any other form of mental illness and is looking to connect with experts available at bipolar disorder treatment facilities in CA, Sovereign Health can help.

Call our 24/7 helpline number 866-973-7164 or chat online to get more information about the best bipolar residential treatment centers in California and other states of the U.S.

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