Depression or Bipolar Disorder?

Mania is a very misunderstood creature. A number of different misconceptions make it difficult for there to really be a mainstream understanding. Thus, you wind up with people that do not understand their manic component is actually a symptom rather than part of their normal mentality. If you have been diagnosed as having depression it is integral to determine if you experience mania. Being treated for depression without being treated for mania can end in complete disaster.

Ask yourself the following:

1. Are there times when I do not feel the lethargy and mental weight of depression?

2. Do my thoughts race from subject to subject without completion?

3. Do I only sleep a few hours at night but do not feel tired during the day?

4. Do I have constant epiphanies and make grand plans that I cannot see through?

5. Do I experience a mental “crash” after this period where I experience extreme depression and have a difficult time thinking?

6. Do I look back on that period of time I was not depressed and wonder what was I possibly thinking?

There are several other indicators but these are the ones that should stand out the clearest to the untrained that are not experienced by normals. If you experience these sorts of things in addition to the depression, bring it up to your doctor immediately!

Why so important? Depression and Bipolar Disorder are treated in two different ways. A person with depression may be prescribed an antidepressant, and that’s fine. A Bipolar will be prescribed a mood stabilizer and eventually an antidepressant. The mood stabilizer helps to cap off the extreme highs that come with mania or hypomania. The antidepressant is meant to bring up the lower end of the spectrum.

The depressive does not experience the extreme highs, so they can take an antidepressant and come up to a better level. A Bipolar that takes an antidepressant without a working mood stabilizer will just continue to go up and up, farther than they have likely ever been. That is an incredibly dangerous mentality because their actions will not be predictable while being based off what their unwell mind is telling them is reality.

How bad can it be? David Crespi was misdiagnosed as depressed and put on antidepressants. He rocketed into mania and a chain of events unfolded that ended with him stabbing his twin daughters to death before being told by his sprinklers to call 911. David will now serve the rest of his life in prison because he did not share every aspect of what was going on in his mind. He had no prior criminal record, no history of violence, and there were no outward problems in his home life as motive. If David had been on a mood stabilizer as well, it’s quite likely he’d still be enjoying a quiet life with his family and twins.

That is an extreme example. The Bipolar person may not end up murdering anyone- but losing jobs, screwing up relationships, spending all your money, and doing reckless things are all plenty common.

Having an accurate understanding of this Bipolar information is essential to finding the right treatment regimen to manage the Disorder. Treating the depression may only be half the problem.

A Bipolar person should never take antidepressants without a mood stabilizer established in their system.