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Bipolar Depression vs. Major Depression?

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Bipolar Depression vs. Major Depression?

Postby VirginiaFWilde » Sun Mar 25, 2012 1:41 am

Hello everyone! I'm a newcomer here. :)

I've been researching the differences between bipolar depression and major depression. Whenever the two have a difference in symptoms, I seem to identify more with the typical features of bipolar depression.

So I want to ask some officially diagnosed bipolars to see if these differences in symptoms ring true in real life.

Major Depression
- later onset in life
- insomnia
- [often] weight loss
- pacing, restlessness

Bipolar Depression
- typically appears around 18 years
- hypersomnia
- [often] weight gain
- inactivity, slowing down
- irritability, anger, inability to concentrate

During depressed moods, I am irritable and unable to focus. I am usually very artistic and creative, but I have not written or made anything in in several months. I have also been experiencing mild migraines, but I am not sure if this is related or not.

Thanks everyone! :D
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Re: Bipolar Depression vs. Major Depression?

Postby Infinite_Jester » Sun Mar 25, 2012 3:37 am

Hey Virginia F Wilde,

I'm sorry to hear that you've been feeling so depressed. I can understand not knowing whether or not it is characteristic of Bipolar Disorder or Major Depressive Disorder might add some unwanted uncertainty to things.

VirginiaFWilde wrote:So I want to ask some officially diagnosed bipolars to see if these differences in symptoms ring true in real life.

Major Depression
- later onset in life
- insomnia
- [often] weight loss
- pacing, restlessness

Bipolar Depression
- typically appears around 18 years
- hypersomnia
- [often] weight gain
- inactivity, slowing down
- irritability, anger, inability to concentrate


The key differences between Major Depressive Disorder and Bipolar Disorder is that persons with Bipolar Disorder alternate between depressive episodes and (hypo)manic episodes whereas persons with Major Depressive Disorder do not. So the symptoms that are really pertinent are the symptoms of (hypo)mania. These include:

-pressured speech
-inflated self-esteem or grandiosity
-decreased need for sleep
-flight of ideas or the subjective experience that thoughts are racing
-easy distractibility and attention-deficit similar to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
-increase in psychomotor agitation
-involvement in pleasurable activities that may have a high potential for negative psycho-social or --physical consequences (e.g., the person engages in unrestrained buying sprees, sexual indiscretions, reckless driving, or foolish business investments).

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypomania)

Do you ever have any of these symptoms?

If so, do they follow after a depressed period?

*hugs* Feel better soon V. W.
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Re: Bipolar Depression vs. Major Depression?

Postby VirginiaFWilde » Sun Mar 25, 2012 6:32 am

Thank you, Infinite Jester. You always leave such thoughtful, well-written posts.

The most noticeable difference between the two is, of course, hypomania/mania. But I've been staring at articles about mania and thinking about it for so long now I'm just confused and beginning to doubt my feelings. :?

But why not have story time?

The first depressive and hypomanic experiences were relatively mild and very fast. I did notice them because they were right after the other. I remember thinking, "Well that was very weird. I don't get PMS, so it's not that..." One day I was lying in my bed crying over strange things [like how a child actor from the 60s never had a successful career], and the next I was feeling great.

Since then each episode has gotten longer and more intense, and they are generally separated by a stretch of normal mood. This depressive mood has lasted about 4 months. About two weeks ago I started feeling better but since then I've been up and down on a day-to-day basis.

I did, however, look back through my creative writing files. The days and weeks where I have written the most [sometimes ten or more poems in a day] coincide with the dates I have sent very sexually playful e-mails [ :lol: ] and the only two times I have bought $80 heels.

I do remember that during these poem/writing fests, I sometimes had about seven Word documents open at a time, rapidly switching between them and typing, with a word or phrase in one poem sparking another. I specifically recall that I could not remember writing this one poem [and it's actually one of my favourites now].

I'm not sure how normal it is to write 13 poems in a day or start and finish an entire short story in one evening and then stay up really really late finishing homework....
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Re: Bipolar Depression vs. Major Depression?

Postby Infinite_Jester » Sun Mar 25, 2012 7:36 am

VirginiaFWilde wrote:I'm not sure how normal it is to write 13 poems in a day or start and finish an entire short story in one evening and then stay up really really late finishing homework....


Depends, on a scale of Sylvia Plath's I would say your about 3 out of 5 :D (5 out of 5 is no good :( )

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It does kinda sound like you've been having Bipolar-like mood swings. Have you seen a mental health care professional or your doctor? (Are you going to?)

BTW

VirginiaFWilde wrote:But why not have story time?


Love story time :D

Take care and let me know what you think and how things are going.
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Re: Bipolar Depression vs. Major Depression?

Postby CrackedGirl » Sun Mar 25, 2012 10:51 am

Hi Virginia

If you are having symptoms of both mania and depression - which from your description you kindof sound like you do, you may be having mixed episodes. No one on here can diagnose you but those are just my thoughts. I would strongly suggest you go to the Dr and tell them about what you are experiencing and see what they can do to help.

Good luck and keep us posted

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Re: Bipolar Depression vs. Major Depression?

Postby VirginiaFWilde » Tue Mar 27, 2012 5:05 am

What's the Sylvia Plath scale? [Speaking of Sylvia Plath, I have a collection of her poems on my desk waiting to be read...I love "The Mirror".]

I'm tracking my mood, and I made a chart of related productivity [poems and projects]. I have also talked to a friend about it.

I'm 18, if that makes any difference. I'm hoping to go to a doctor as soon as possible, since I don't want to wait until it gets worse, as each experience already seems to last longer and be a little more intense. Does bipolar usually become more severe with age [if untreated]?

I'll keep checking back here and give you any updates.

Thank you so much for your support and help!
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Re: Bipolar Depression vs. Major Depression?

Postby Infinite_Jester » Tue Mar 27, 2012 7:24 am

VirginiaFWilde wrote:What's the Sylvia Plath scale? [Speaking of Sylvia Plath, I have a collection of her poems on my desk waiting to be read...I love "The Mirror".]


The Sylvia Plath scale is a measure of how much of a troubled poetess you are and how normal your bursts of creative energy are. With a 3 out of 5 your a somewhat troubled poetess and your creative endeavours are within the norm :D

VirginiaFWilde wrote:I'm tracking my mood, and I made a chart of related productivity [poems and projects]. I have also talked to a friend about it.


Yes! That's perfect :D Talking and mood charting is great.

VirginiaFWilde wrote:I'm 18, if that makes any difference. I'm hoping to go to a doctor as soon as possible, since I don't want to wait until it gets worse, as each experience already seems to last longer and be a little more intense. Does bipolar usually become more severe with age [if untreated]?


That's great to hear that your going to see a doctor. Being proactive is best even if it is just to let your doctor know that this is a problem so that you can check in later.

In regards to your question, I'm not sure if Bipolar Disorder gets worse over the years. I think it's pretty much the same but at different periods in your life it might be harder to cope with given certain circumstances like stress, grief, relationship problems and other lifestyle changes. With that said, I think it's harder to cope with when your younger because it requires quite a bit of experience and practice to cope with your mood. At least from what I've read on the forum, the early 20's seem to be really tough for most people (or those are the ones who report having a crisis the most).

Hope your feeling better. Take care and let us know how your doing.
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Re: Bipolar Depression vs. Major Depression?

Postby Maulwurf » Wed Mar 28, 2012 7:19 pm

I'm reading a book at the moment that might be of interest to you. It's called Why am I still depressed? Recognizing and Managing the Ups and Downs of Bipolar II and Soft Bipolar Disorder by Jim Phelps. What's interesting about it is that his angle is that Bipolar II and soft bipolar disorder are frequently misdiagnosed as major depression, precisely because the symptoms of bipolar depression are similar (but--he says--not identical) to major depression. Moreover, patients tend to seek medical help for the symptoms of depression but not for symptoms of hypomania, which leads to frequent misdiagnoses.

The book is, however, geared toward the patient rather than the practitioner, so it's not incredibly technical. (Which may be an asset or a set-back, whichever angle you approach it.) It's also geared toward people who were diagnosed with unipolar depression, for whom antidepressants and other forms of treatment didn’t stop the frequent episodes (or made them worse). So he lays out the symptoms of BP2 and soft bipolar disorder, with an aim to help readers understand whether they should seek professional rediagnosis and alternative forms of treatment.

Anyway, if you think you might have bipolar depression, but were diagnosed as having unipolar depression, that book might be a good place to start. I only got it recently and just started reading it. It seems good so far, but I can’t vouch for its ultimate value. (P.S. I got it on Amazon.)
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Re: Bipolar Depression vs. Major Depression?

Postby VirginiaFWilde » Wed Apr 04, 2012 1:59 am

Thank you Maulwurf!

Besides the presence of [hypo]mania, I thought it probable that there would be differences between bipolar and unipolar depression. So if someone's first experience with bipolar disorder happened to be a depressive episode, there still may be early signals of bipolar disorder according to minor details of the depression. I found the research and statistics on this absolutely fascinating.

Yes, this is the sort of thing I ponder in the middle of the night.
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Re: Bipolar Depression vs. Major Depression?

Postby Gamer » Wed Apr 04, 2012 3:00 am

I want to start by saying unipolar can have an episodic nature as well, the difference is that it alternates between normal and depressed as opposed to normal, depressed, and manic/hypomanic. In addition to the clinical depressive differences between the two groups you posted above, there seems to be personality differences as well. There is an excellent compilation of previous research in this paper on pg 2: http://altcancerweb.com/bipolar/persona ... ti-bpd.pdf

Summary: When euthymic (displaying no clinical symptoms or in remission), bipolar patients in comparison to unipolar patients were:

- Less neurotic
- Less rigid
- More extroverted
- Higher in novelty-seeking
- More open-minded (measured by openness on the NEO-PI)

When depressed, bipolar patients in comparison to unipolar patients were:

- More neurotic
- More needy (attachment issues)
- More orality
- Less socially confident
- Daydreamed more (probably a reflection of greater openness)

A personal observation, especially when reading both the bipolar and clinical depression forums, is that unipolar patients tend to be a bit more down-to-earth and conventional compared to bipolar patients. Whether this is a positive or negative depends on how you look at it. Another personal observation is that unipolar patients are more likely (not always) to associate their depression with concrete problems (status, money, family, abuse, poor job or work environments, etc.), while bipolar patients tend to only describe their depression without pinpointing a concrete source, or if there is a source, tends to be abstract. (just my opinion based on anecdotal evidence. take it or leave it)
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