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What is Bipolar Depression?

What is bipolar depression? Read on to learn more about its signs and symptoms, along with available treatment options.

What is bipolar depression

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What is Bipolar Depression?

Bipolar depression alters a person’s energy, mood, and capacity for function. Those with bipolar depression go through severe emotional or mood swings that normally last a few days to a few weeks. These mood swings might be classified as either depressed or manic). However, most people with bipolar depression or other forms of bipolar disorder also have times of neutral mood.1

Life can be severely disrupted by bipolar illness, although each person experiences it differently. Many people with this illness have fulfilling lives with the proper care and assistance. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), bipolar illness affects about ten million people in the United States, or around 2.8% of the population.2

What Does Having Bipolar Depression Mean?

Bipolar depression is a mood condition that results in abrupt changes in mood, energy levels, thought processes, and behavior. These shifts affect a person’s ability to complete daily duties and can persist for a few minutes or several days, weeks, or even months.

What Is a Bipolar Person Like?

Bipolar illness patients might experience extreme highs of happiness and vigor and very depressive lows of melancholy, hopelessness, and sluggishness. Usually, people feel normal in the intervals between those times. Other symptoms might appear, and their moods are more extreme than typical mood swings. Psychosis, which can include hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia, affects certain people.3

Signs and Symptoms of Bipolar Depression

The International Bipolar Association states that every person can experience bipolar depression symptoms differently. An episode may last months for some while lasting years for others. Some patients could go through highs and lows almost simultaneously or very quickly. 

A person with “fast cycling” bipolar disorder will experience four or more episodes in a calendar year. The following symptoms are associated with bipolar disorder:4


One may feel restless due to extreme anxiety, which may result in hyperventilating also. The person might also feel extreme forms of happiness and vigor as well and not be able to know how to let out their energy.

Manic Episodes

Mania is a disorder in which people experience dramatic changes in their emotions, thoughts, energy, talkativeness, and activity level. People also experience a time of excessively high or irritated mood. Others will note the shift in the person’s regular conduct and a high degree of vigor in their physical and mental activities.

Risk-Taking Behavior

People with bipolar disorder frequently act impulsively and participate in risky behavior patterns, which are activities that can carry a significant risk of unpleasant outcomes or potentially put the person in danger.

Impulsivity and Poor Judgment

Impulsive behavior is defined as fast, unplanned actions to gratify desires. Due to their impulsivity, bipolar individuals frequently make snap decisions that lead to poor judgment.

Worthlessness or Guilt

Persistent depression and loss of interest are symptoms of bipolar depression, a mood condition. It can cause various mental and physical issues and impact how one feels, thinks, and behaves. As a result, one could start to experience overwhelming feelings of guilt and worthlessness.

What Are the Risk Factors of Bipolar Depression?

What is bipolar depression

There is not a single risk factor that guarantees one will develop bipolar disorder. Numerous risk factors often interact to cause the disease. Scientists have been conducting more research to identify the exact risk factors and causes, and some of them include:

Genetics and Family History

Although there are several causes of bipolar illness, genetic factors are perhaps the most common. Bipolar depression is not a condition that people are born with, but genetics significantly affect how it develops. 

Children with a parent or sibling with the disorder are more likely to have it than children who don’t have any affected family members, showing that there is a familial tendency for bipolar disorder when a family member is affected.

Brain Structure and Functioning

When one goes for a brain scan, results that match certain conditions might indicate bipolar disorder. Further research is required to determine the precise impact of these results on bipolar disorder and the implications for diagnosis and therapy.

Drug or Alcohol Abuse

The symptoms of bipolar illness, such as mania and sadness, can also be brought on by excessive use of substances like alcohol and narcotics.

Periods of High Stress

Sometimes, a severe or very stressful experience follows a bipolar illness diagnosis. Although stress does not cause bipolar illness, it can set off periods of mood swings in certain people.

How to Diagnose Bipolar Disorder

There are a few ways that doctors go about diagnosing bipolar disorder or bipolar depression. These include:

  • Physical Exam:  To determine any medical conditions that could be causing the symptoms, the doctor may do a physical examination and blood testing.
  • Mental Health Evaluation: A psychiatrist who will discuss your thoughts, feelings, and behavioral patterns with you may be recommended by your doctor to help with diagnosing. They may ask you to fill out a psychological self or questionnaire as another option as well.
  • Mood Charting: One could be requested to keep a daily journal of emotions, sleeping habits, or other characteristics that could be used to diagnose and select the best course of treatment.

Treatment Options Available

There are multiple different treatment options available for those who struggle with bipolar depression. Some of these are: 

  • Day Treatment Programs: The doctor may suggest a plan for day therapy. These programs offer assistance and guidance while helping patients to manage symptoms.
  • Continued Treatment: Bipolar disorder has to be treated with medication for life in order to help with continued care. People who forego maintenance therapy risk experiencing a recurrence of their symptoms or having mild mood swings develop into major depression or mania.
  • Hospitalization: If a patient behaves in a hazardous manner, experiences suicidal thoughts, or loses touch with reality, the doctor may advise that they should be admitted to the hospital.
  • Medications: One may need to start taking drugs immediately after diagnosis to stabilize the mood.

Get Help for Bipolar Depression at Iris Healing®

If you are experiencing symptoms of bipolar depression or you have someone diagnosed with bipolar disorder, we are here to help. We have experienced medical practitioners who can help you cope with bipolar disorder. You can choose any treatment options suitable for you or your loved ones on our website.

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