How Do I Know I’m Bipolar? Depression

In continuation of my post on mania in bipolar disorder, I will now make a similar list of my experiences with bipolar depression.

Bipolar Depression is characterized as…

-Sadness

I’m not going to suggest that the feeling of sadness in bipolar depression is different than that in normal depression, but more often than not depression in bipolar follows a high and so the drop is all the more difficult to deal with. When I am depressed there is nothing in this world that can cheer me up. I feel hopeless. I won’t leave the house for weeks on end, I will sometimes overeat and sometimes under eat but I certainly always do so in some sort of a dysfunctional way. Despite feeling utterly lonely and isolated, I just want to be on my own all the time.

-Over or under sleeping

I’m one of the unlucky ones that get severe insomnia in both mania and depression due to not being able to switch off my brain, but some people tend to over sleep when they’re depressed. Generally, if you are having a depressive episode, your sleep will be affected in some way.

-Suicidal thoughts/attempts

This one is the crucial one for me. Not everyone that has bipolar has tried to kill themselves but at the same time it is very common. I myself have lost count of the amount of times I have tried to take my life during a depressive episode. At times it has been because I have spent some time manic and done stupid things and feel so full of remorse for it that I can’t bare it, but just as often it has been through the utter despair, desperation and loneliness of depression. When I was 21 I drank a couple of bottles of wine and cut my wrists, passing out through blood loss and woke up the next day in a pool of it on my bed, incredibly lucky to be alive, at least in hindsight. Bipolar depression, for most people, involves thoughts of suicide.

-Time

A doctor or psychiatrist will not class anything as a depressive episode unless you have been experiencing the symptoms for at least two weeks.

It is important to note here that you cannot be diagnosed with bipolar if you experience depression alone or some symptoms of hyperactivity on their own.  The main and most telling sign of bipolar disorder is going from one extreme to another without rational cause. There is plenty of material on the web on the subject; the above characterizations are just my own personal experience, although I hope I have been of some help.

Bipolar disorder is a serious illness. There is nothing trendy about putting your own life at risk and struggling to keep your life on track. Yes, mania can be fun and productive but it is always very short lived and always followed by a severe and uncontrollable drop in mood; what goes up, must come down after all. If you feel you are experiencing any or a combination of the above symptoms it is important that you seek medical attention.

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