My Q Health | Bipolar and Depression: What’s the Difference?
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Bipolar and Depression: What’s the Difference?

Bipolar and Depression: What’s the Difference?

By Jen Laskey

Bipolar disorder is easily confused with depression. Read on to learn what distinguishes one condition from the other.

The main difference between bipolar disorder and depression are the mania symptoms — characterized by excessive excitement or irritability, extreme elation, and delusions of grandeur — that are associated with the bipolar condition. In fact, until fairly recently, bipolar disorder was often called manic depression, a term that highlights both poles of the illness — mania and depression. To clarify the differences between straightforward depression and bipolar disorder, it’s helpful to understand the specific symptoms of each.

Depression Symptoms

While mood swings, or cycling back and forth between manic and depressed states, are a component of bipolar disorder, depression is unipolar — meaning that there is no “up,” or manic, part of the condition. Instead, depression is characterized by an intense, prolonged “down” state of mind that interferes with a person’s daily life, as well as his or her ability and desire to engage in relationships and regular activities. Symptoms of depression include:

  • Pervasive sadness
  • Extreme fatigue or loss of energy
  • Inability to make a decision
  • Lack of interest in activities that are normally enjoyable
  • Appetite changes
  • Sleep problems
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Bipolar Disorder Symptoms

Although bipolar disorder includes the depressive symptoms described above, it also includes manic symptoms. Bipolar disorder is characterized by uncontrollable dramatic mood swings that fluctuate between depressive lows and manic highs. Manic symptoms may include:

  • Irritability
  • Anger
  • Excessively high energy; rapid speech and thoughts
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Overinflated sense of self-importance
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Disturbed judgment
  • Increased recklessness (usually involving money, drugs, alcohol, or sex)

Bipolar Disorder: Understanding Different Types

To read full article, visit Everyday Health.


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