Is bipolar and depression the same?

Bipolar disorder is easily confused with depression because it can include depressive episodes. The main difference between the two is that depression is unipolar, meaning there is no “period of increase,” but bipolar disorder includes symptoms of mania. Bipolar disorder (sometimes called manic-depressive) is different. If you do, you have extreme mood swings.

You experience periods of depression (similar to those of MDD). But you also have periods of great ups and downs. Despite mood extremes, people with bipolar disorder often don't recognize how much their emotional instability disturbs their lives and those of their loved ones and don't get the treatment they need. Low social support is associated with more frequent episodes of depression in both unipolar and bipolar depression.

There is no specific diagnostic test available to help your doctor determine if you have bipolar disorder or depression. However, despite methodological obstacles, distinguishing mania and depression as separate disorder processes would allow researchers to leverage the wealth of literature on unipolar depression in the design of treatments and etiological models of bipolar depression. Third, one would expect that the psychosocial triggers of depression would be less pronounced in bipolar depression than in unipolar depression. This type of duality is exemplified in the DSM diagnostic system, with unipolar and bipolar disorders categorized as separate branches in the mood disorder diagnosis tree.

Given their central position in the healthcare network and their prominent role in the diagnosis and treatment of patients, NPs have the opportunity to improve mental health services in family practice by being better informed and sharing their experience with primary care colleagues in order to optimize the treatment of all patients with bipolar disorder. While depression can be triggered by life events, major depression extends beyond the normal periods of sadness experienced after disappointing or traumatic life events. In fact, the presence or absence of a history of depression within bipolar disorder was no longer included in the diagnostic subtypes. We divide the studies into those that focus on cognitive styles during depression, during remission, and cognitive styles that predict depression.

However, none of these studies compared the effects of cognitive variables for unipolar and bipolar depression. Mania and depression could be conceptualized as highly comorbid conditions, as could anxiety and depression. Although this seems to be a simple mission, a number of issues complicate comparisons of bipolar and unipolar depression. In addition, in a review of neuroimaging findings in bipolar disorder, bipolar depression has been associated with decreased activity in the prefrontal cortex compared to controls (Stoll, Renshaw, Yurgelun-Todd, & Cohen, 2000).

The differences found between unipolar and bipolar depression may not be due to differences in depressions per se, but rather to differences attributable to concurrent manic symptoms, healing from previous manic episodes, or manic vulnerability. These results provide evidence that net 5-HT activity is low in bipolar disorder and that this low level is due to the reduced availability of 5-HT in CNS 5-HT synapses.

LaToya Weitze
LaToya Weitze

Amateur internet scholar. Incurable internet evangelist. Extreme travel geek. Infuriatingly humble beer evangelist. Bacon evangelist.

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