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Bipolar Depression

By David Chandler

What is Bipolar Depression?

The distinguishing characteristic of bipolar depression, as compared to other mood disorders, is the presence of at least one manic episode. Additionally, it is presumed to be a chronic condition because the vast majority of individuals who have one manic episode have additional episodes in the future. The statistics suggest that four episodes in ten years is an average, without preventative treatment. Every individual with bipolar depression has a unique pattern of mood cycles, combining depression and manic episodes, which is specific to that individual, but predictable once the pattern is identified. Research studies suggest a strong genetic influence in bipolar depression.

Bipolar depression typically begins in adolescence or early adulthood and continues throughout life. Bipolar depression is often not recognized as a psychological problem, because it is episodic. Consequently, those who have bipolar depression may suffer needlessly for years without treatment.

Treatment for Bipolar Depression

Effective treatment is available for bipolar depression. Without treatment, marital breakups, job loss, alcohol and drug abuse, and suicide may result from the chronic, episodic mood swings. The most significant treatment issue is noncompliance with treatment. Most individuals with bipolar depression do not perceive their manic episodes as needing treatment, and they resist entering treatment. In fact, most people report feeling very good during the beginning of a manic episode, and do not want it to stop. This is a serious judgment problem. As the manic episode progresses, concentration becomes difficult, thinking becomes more grandiose, and problems develop. Unfortunately, the risk taking behavior usually results in significant painful consequences such as loss of a job or a relationship, running up excessive debts, or getting into legal difficulties. Many individuals with bipolar depression abuse drugs or alcohol during manic episodes, and some of these develop secondary substance abuse problems. Therefore, it is advisable to treat Bipolar Depression at its early stage.


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