Bipolar disorder and depression have many of the same symptoms, but there are several key differences between the two. Depression (sometimes called “unipolar depression”) and bipolar disorder (or “bipolar depression”) are two very different conditions that need to be treated differently.
It is very important for a person to get the correct diagnosis so that they can receive the appropriate treatment. Unfortunately, it is difficult to distinguish the difference between these conditions, and misdiagnosis may occur.
Although clinical depression does not evolve or “become” bipolar disorder, people who have been previously diagnosed with depression may find that they actually have a type of bipolar disorder.Responding to a new or unexpected diagnosis can be difficult, but an accurate diagnosis is necessary to ensure proper treatment of the condition.
Why did the misdiagnosis happen
Although each condition has some characteristics, many symptoms of bipolar disorder and depression overlap. When people have both diseases or other factors (such as substance use), making an accurate diagnosis can be challenging.
Symptoms of clinical depression
Very good / Joshua Seong
Although there are many different types of depression and they may have unique characteristics, most people with depression will experience some symptoms at some time or other, such as:
- Feeling extreme sadness, despair, or emptiness
- Easy to get angry, irritable or frustrated
- Too much sleep (called narcolepsy) or insomnia
- Inattention or difficulty concentrating
- Not feeling hungry or overeating
- Lack of interest in hobbies, work, and social interaction
- Low or no sex drive
- Self-harm, suicidal thoughts or attempts
Usually, a person must have symptoms every day for two weeks or more to be diagnosed with depression.
People with depression may also suffer from comorbid anxiety. People with bipolar disorder also experience anxiety, including generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).
Symptoms of bipolar disorder
Bipolar disorder is a mental disorder in which a person experiences alternating periods of depression, with symptoms similar to unipolar depression and manic periods. The definition of mania is high mood and energy.
In a manic state, a person feels very good. Compared to feelings of depression, the symptoms of mania may not be particularly disturbing. Manic episodes may also occur rarely, with a gap of several years between them. When symptoms do appear, they may be mild.
Symptoms of mania may include:
- Feeling irritable, increased activity or energy
- Euphoria, excitement, “big” thoughts (magnificent)
- Difficulty concentrating, distracted, thinking about many different things
- Aggressive, easy to get angry or irritable
- Sleep less but still have energy
- Increased libido
- Delusions, hallucinations (severe mania)
In some cases, a person with bipolar depression may not mention manic symptoms to a doctor or therapist unless or until they become severe.
Types of bipolar
It is important to know that there are two types of bipolar disorder: bipolar 1 and bipolar 2. Although the symptoms of each type are similar, their frequency and duration are different.
Very good / Lin Hugo
Bipolar type 1 disorder usually involves at least one major depressive episode. It differs from depression in that patients with bipolar disorder have also experienced at least one episode of mania. In Biphas 1, people may alternate between periods of depression and mania.
In bipolar disorder 2, a person may not experience mania. Instead, they may have a milder form (hypomania) with depression in between. When the symptoms are subtle, people may not realize that they are experiencing mania. The “trough” of depression may be more obvious or easier to identify, which may lead to misdiagnosis of depression.
People with any kind of bipolar disorder will experience the following symptoms, depending on whether they are in a manic or depressive phase.
There are many common symptoms of depression and bipolar disorder. When a person with bipolar disorder is experiencing a depressive episode, it looks (and feels) very much like a typical depression.
People with depression or bipolar disorder may experience depression, trouble sleeping, changes in appetite, and difficulty concentrating. They are also at risk of self-harm, including suicide. Patients with bipolar disorder often have problems with excessive sleep and overeating, which helps distinguish MDD from bipolar disorder.
One of the main ways to distinguish bipolar disorder from depression is the presence of manic symptoms, but a person may seek treatment for depressive symptoms before experiencing a manic episode.
Sometimes people don’t realize that they have had a manic episode—especially a more subtle hypomanic episode.
How substance use affects diagnosis
Substance abuse can complicate the diagnosis of mental illness in many ways. People who use substances such as alcohol or drugs may exhibit behaviors or symptoms similar to bipolar disorder.
If the provider does not know that the person is using the substance and attributes it to symptoms related to bipolar disorder, a misdiagnosis may occur. But some studies have shown that even if clinicians know a person’s substance use history, bipolar disorder may be misdiagnosed.
Or, if the symptoms of people who use drugs or alcohol are due to substance use rather than underlying bipolar disorder, they may not be correctly diagnosed as bipolar disorder.
Substance use disorders often occur at the same time as many mental illnesses, including bipolar disorder and depression.
One of the potential complications of misdiagnosis is that bipolar disorder and depression require different treatments. Unfortunately, antidepressants are the preferred treatment for depression and may not be effective for patients with bipolar disorder.
In fact, when people with bipolar disorder take certain antidepressants, their symptoms get worse. Their mood may become unstable and the frequency of manic episodes may increase. If F has not had a manic episode, these drugs may trigger them to experience a manic episode.
Most patients with bipolar disorder need to be treated with mood-stabilizing drugs (such as lithium) instead of antidepressants.
Reduce the risk of misdiagnosis
Clinicians can take several steps to ensure that they make an accurate diagnosis. The risk of misdiagnosis still exists, but it can be reduced. If you are working with a doctor or mental health professional, they may use some assessment methods to help them provide the most accurate diagnosis.
The doctor or mental health professional will first ask about your symptoms. Since people may have difficulty interpreting their feelings or attention patterns, it is also helpful to talk to your loved ones, as they may have noticed changes in your behavior or made other observations about your emotions-some of them But you may not even know.
Clinicians may pay special attention to symptoms associated with mania, such as elevated mood, irritability, or reckless behavior.
They may also ask about family history of mental illness. If a person’s first-degree relatives have bipolar disorder or have a history of manic episodes, they are at higher risk of bipolar disorder. If someone has not been formally diagnosed but has experienced a manic episode after starting an antidepressant, this may also indicate bipolar disorder rather than depression.
Your doctor may ask questions about the onset of symptoms. Symptoms of bipolar disorder often appear suddenly and early (adolescent or early 20s). On the other hand, depression may be more progressive and can develop at any time-even during childhood.
People with bipolar disorder also tend to experience changes in symptoms or “recovery” (for example, from feeling down to feeling better) faster than people with depression. Generally speaking, people with depression do not experience mood swings—they feel “depressed” most or all of the time. These depressive episodes also tend to last for a long time, and patients with bipolar disorder may have a shorter depressive episode.
Mood Disorder Questionnaire, Bipolar Disorder Spectrum Diagnostic Scale and Hypomanic Personality Scale are some of the diagnostic tools used to screen for bipolar disorder.These tools focus on issues related to underlying mania and hypomanic symptoms, which are important for distinguishing the diagnosis of bipolar depression from unipolar depression.
The clinician will also want to know if you have any psychiatric symptoms, such as hallucinations. Although psychotic symptoms may appear in other mental health disorders, it is also a feature that helps distinguish bipolar disorder from depression.
Your doctor or mental health professional may want you to try using mood charts to help track your symptoms. This approach is particularly helpful for detecting hypomanic episodes and tracking the frequency of mood swings. After you start taking antidepressants, you may be asked to record your emotions.
If you develop new symptoms (such as mania) or worsen symptoms after you start taking these drugs, it may indicate that you have bipolar disorder rather than depression.
It is important to keep in touch with your mental health care team while you are diagnosed or starting treatment, especially if you are trying medication. In some cases, antidepressants can make depressive symptoms worse. If you are under the age of 25, the risk of suicidal thoughts may increase-this is why antidepressants receive a black box warning from the FDA.
If you or your loved ones notice a worrying change in your behavior, please consult your doctor or psychiatrist. They may decide that you need another type of treatment.
Unless you are under the supervision of a doctor or psychiatrist, do not stop or reduce your antidepressant medications. If you want to stop taking the drug or switch to a new prescription, please consult your doctor on how to safely reduce the dose to avoid stopping the drug.
Very good sentence
Even if a doctor or mental health professional has thoroughly evaluated your symptoms and medical history, a misdiagnosis may still occur. When reporting your symptoms to the clinician, you can help by being as accurate and detailed as possible. If your diagnosis is not suitable for you, be sure to express these concerns to your medical team. It may be helpful to have an assessment by another practitioner. Your mental health and well-being depend on getting an accurate diagnosis and getting the treatment that best suits your needs.