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Bipolar Depression Disorder:
Manage Mood Swings and Lift Depression

Those living with bipolar depression disorder are intimately familiar with the rollercoaster of extreme emotional highs and lows.

During manic episodes, feelings of euphoria take over. 

Emotions run high. Energy levels go through the roof despite getting very little sleep.  Impulsiveness overrides rational thoughts and actions.


Bipolar Depression Disorder: Information, Help, Resources
Bipolar Depression Disorder: Information, Help, Resources

Image credit: Pixabay


Then there's the other side of the coin…

You're in the dregs of depression.  You may sleep for half the day and still feel fatigued.  Feelings of despair are so strong that you can’t seem to pull yourself out of the darkness.  Suicidal thoughts may be a constant companion.

That's just a taste of what bipolar depression is like.

But wait...

Just so you understand, bipolar depression disorder isn't just another form of depression.

In fact, research shows that there’s a big difference between the two.  

Bipolar Depression Disorder Is Unique Onto Itself…

Bipolar disorder (a.k.a. manic depression) has many of the same classic symptoms of depression.  

Factoid

There are currently over five million people living with bipolar depression disorder in the U.S.

But there are also huge mood, energy, thought and behavioral changes involved.
Remember my little manic-depressive scenario from before?  

These chances, or cycles, can last for days or even months. Cycles can be so intense that they interfere with a person's ability to function.  

Unlike "regular" depression, bipolar disorder can be hard to diagnose.

Why?

Symptoms may be so similar to regular depression that misdiagnosis is common.   Misdiagnosis unfortunately and inevitably leads to a lot of unnecessary pain and suffering.

There are basically ....

Three Faces of Bipolar Depression

Bipolar I -a person will have at least one manic episode during his or her lifetime. There's usually at least one episode of depression.

Bipolar II Disorder-  Defined by episodes of hypomania (a milder form of mania) followed by severe depression.

Cyclothymia- During cyclothymia, you may cycle between hypomania and depression.

I'll cover mania later in this article.

Some with bipolar depression will cycle between depression and mania or hypomania. Others will have:

  • More episodes of depression than either mania or hypomania.
  • More episodes of mania or hypomania than depression. 

Having four or more mood changes in one year is known as rapid cycling. 

Have no fear...

It's totally possible to enjoy extended periods of emotional stability with minimum or no mood swings. 

I'll tell you how later, but first...


What's Mania and Hypomania?? 

What the heck are mania and hypomania?  Simply put, they are the high emotional parts of bipolar depression.

Here are the common signs and symptoms of mania:

1. Feeling really optimistic OR extremely irritable

2. Over inflated self-esteem and feeling invincible

3. Being very energetic despite getting very little sleep

4. Racing thoughts and speaking so fast that other people can't keep up

5. Inability to focus on one topic at a time; having so many ideas/thoughts that it's hard to focus

6. Impaired judgment and being highly impulsive

7. Reckless behavior that puts you in danger or endangers your relationships and  livelihood

8. In severe cases, mania can cause delusions and hallucinations

If you're in a manic episode you may feel euphoric and energetic, with an over inflated sense of self-esteem and self-importance.  You get a lot done--highly productive.   

But you may also find yourself making some bad decisions that could damage your relationships, reputation and your life in general.  

For example, you may impulsively clean out your bank account, up and quit your job, or put yourself in life threatening or risky situations.

The emotional high from mania can last for days.  You may then fall into a major depressive episode, which would last for weeks or even months.

There needs to be just one manic episode for a Bipolar I diagnosis.

Ok, but what about hypomania?...

Hypomania is a less severe form of mania.

Just like mania in Bipolar I,  the emotional high from hypomania can last for days.  You may then fall into a major depressive episode which would last for weeks or months.

So, to be diagnosed with Bipolar II, hypomania must last for at least four days. Followed by a major depressive episode, lasting for at least two weeks.  

Remember:

Mania is usually associated with Bipolar I

Hypomania is usually associated with Bipolar II


What Causes Bipolar Depression Disorder?

No one knows for sure.  Some studies name brain chemical imbalances or genetics as likely culprits.

But there are also external factors that can trigger new manic or depressive episodes.

Identifying your triggers will help you stay on top of your mental health.

Keep in mind though that sometimes there isn't anything that triggers a bipolar manic or depressive episode.

Common Triggers:

Stressful life events- The life event doesn't necessarily have to be good or bad.  The stress of getting married or going off to college can be  triggers.  So can losing a loved one, getting fired from a job, or moving to a new town, city or country.

Substance Abuse – Substance abuse doesn't cause bipolar depression disorder.  But alcohol and drug abuse can definitely make symptoms a lot worse.

  • Mania triggers: cocaine, ecstasy, and amphetamines.
  • Depression triggers: alcohol and tranquilizers.

Medication – This may be a little hard to believe, but antidepressant drugs can trigger episodes of mania.   Your doctor or therapist can work with you to determine which medications will help stabilize your moods.  

Steer clear of over-the-counter cold medicine, appetite suppressants, corticosteroids (steroid hormones), and thyroid medication.  Caffeine can also be a trigger.

Seasonal Changes – Changing seasons can trigger emotional ups and downs.  Episodes of mania are more common in the summer, while episodes of depression are more likely to happen during the spring, fall or winter.

Sleep Deprivation – Loss of sleep may be the most important trigger for a person living with bipolar depression.  Sleep is vital for helping the body recover from stress. 

Getting the right amount of sleep also helps to balance hormones, and acts as a natural mood stabilizer.  Losing even a few hours of sleep a night can trigger an episode of mania.


Self-Help Tips for Managing Bipolar Depression Disorder

Besides identifying and getting a handle on your triggers, you might consider the following self-help strategies.

Chill out

Since stress can be a huge trigger, look for ways to relax whenever you can. Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, exercise, and yoga can help you stay on an even keel.

Each day, do something you enjoy.  Read a book by your favorite author, go to the movies, and spend time with friends and family.  These are great ways boost your mood and improve your overall outlook on life.

Develop a daily routine

Sticking to a daily routine can help with mood swings associated with bipolar depression disorder.  Make sure to include times for going to bed, exercising, eating, and spending time with those you love. 

There's a strong link between nutrition and depression.  This article provides more information.

Getting Support from Others

Having bipolar depression is challenging enough. Don't deal with it alone.  Reach out to as many people as you can. Often times therapy comes in the form of trusted friends and family who lend understanding and support, especially when things get bad.

But if you don't feel you can turn to family and friends for help, support groups may fill the gap. Bipolar disorder support groups provide non-judgmental, solid support.

These groups are worth more than gold because you're able to meet with others like you who are all too familiar with the ups and downs of bipolar depression disorder.

Click here for a directory of Bipolar Depression Treatment Centers in the United States.


Additional Resources

Not sure if your feelings are related to depression or is actually bipolar depression? Meet up with a trained mental health professional, specifically someone that specializes in bipolar disorder.  

Getting a complete and accurate diagnosis is the first step in forming a solid treatment plan to get you healthy. 

Click here for a directory of Bipolar Depression Treatment Centers in the United States.

Click here for a directory of counselors who specialize in Bipolar Depression Treatment in the U.K.

More Information on Bipolar Depression Disorder from The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Click Here

Still with me?

Good.

I know bipolar depression can be difficult to fully understand. 

But if you're still confused, here are a couple videos by therapist Kati Morton that can help clear things up a little.


This video explains the differences between

Bipolar Disorder  I, Bipolar Disorder II,  Cyclothymia


This video explains Bipolar Depression II


What Causes Bipolar Depression?

What Causes Bipolar Disorder? (PDF)– Shows how genetics, life stress and other factors contributes to bipolar disorder. Resource: Centre for Clinical Interventions



Are You Feeling Suicidal?

If you’re feeling suicidal reach out for help right now!

•In the U.S. you can call 1-800-273-TALK or 1-800-273-8255.

•In the UK, call 08457 90 90 90.

•In Australia, call 13 11 14.

•No matter your country, you  can visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP)  to find a helpline. Click here to visit their site.


I hope this article helps you on your journey towards better mental health.

Bright Skies Are Ahead,




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Week 1

This first installment focuses on the link between exercise, diet and good mental health.

Week 2

I'll talk about the importance of using relaxation techniques to lift your mood and calm your nerves, which in turn improves mental health. 

Week 3

This week all about using self-esteem to improve mental health and overall well-being. 

Week 4

This final week presents ways to reduce social media usage. Studies show that over consumption of social media contributes to anxiety and depression.

Click here to start this free e-course!




Week 1

This first installment focuses on the link between exercise, diet and good mental health.

Week 2

I'll talk about the importance of using relaxation techniques to lift your mood and calm your nerves, which in turn improves mental health. 

Week 3

This week all about using self-esteem to improve mental health and overall well-being. 

Week 4

This final week presents ways to reduce social media usage. Studies show that over consumption of social media contributes to anxiety and depression.

Click here to start this free e-course!