Recognizing Depression &/or Bipolar Disorder

Please remember this is not therapy, nor is it a substitution for therapy.  This is not a diagnosis nor is it treatment.

Recognizing Depression and/or Bipolar Disorder:

            Depression and mania may at times be mistaken for spiritual states, but actually need treatment.

            Clinical Depression or Major Depressive Disorder are two names for the same diagnosis.  Most people think of it as deep sadness but it can manifest in other ways.

            To have clinical depression, you must have either sadness or a lack of interest, motivation, or pleasure in activities you used to enjoy.  You must experience one of these most of the day, nearly every day for at least two weeks.

            You would have to experience a total of five symptoms of the following list, experiencing them most of the day nearly every day.

  1. Sadness or Depression
  2. Anhedonia which is the lack of interest, motivation, or pleasure in activities you used to enjoy.
  3. A significant increase or decrease in sleep.  If you’ve been depressed for a long time, think of average sleep as being 7-9 hours.  Are you sleeping 1-2 hours less than 7 or more than 9?
  4. A significant increase or decrease in appetite, often causing weight loss or gain, but not always.
  5. Worthlessness, helplessness, or hopelessness, or significant and unreasonable guilt
  6. Difficulty thinking or concentrating, or difficulty making little decisions like what to eat or what to wear.
  7. Fatigue
  8. Restlessness or sluggishness
  9. Suicidal thoughts

Recognizing Bipolar I or II Disorder

            To have Bipolar I disorder, you must have had one or more manic or mixed episodes.  To have Bipolar II Disorder, you must have had at least one hypomanic episode and at least one depressive episode. Manic episodes last a week or more, or they lead to hospitalization.  Hypomanic episodes last 4-6 days.  If you think that you are experiencing Bipolar Disorder but it doesn’t look this way, I encourage you to seek out a trained professional who specializes in the treatment of Bipolar Disorder who will be more likely to recognize atypical representations or rapid cycling.

            To have a manic episode you must experience a core mood of either euphoria, irritability, or expansiveness.    If you have euphoric or expansive (excessively social) moods, you must have 3 additional symptoms for it to be diagnosable.  If your mood is irritable you need 4 additional symptoms.  These symptoms should be present most of the day during the episode.  There are seven symptoms of mania/hypomania.

  1. Grandiosity
  2. Racing thoughts
  3. Pressured speech
  4. Distractibility
  5. Being restless, agitated, or very busy
  6. A significant decrease in sleep
  7. Participation in activities that may be exciting but have the potential to be dangerous.  Sometimes these activities are considered risky.

For either Depression or Bipolar Disorder, the symptoms must cause significant distress or impairment in important activities.

A diagnosis of Bipolar I usually includes depressive episodes but not always.

A diagnosis of Bipolar II always includes depressive episodes.

These episodes are not caused by a medical condition or by drug use.