Bipolar disorder, or manic depression as some people call it, is a very frightening condition to live with. The symptoms of this disorder can be harsh, they can come and go rapidly and they can lead to mood swings that are on complete opposite ends of the spectrum. Bipolar depression is the particular swing that can present some of the most problems for those who suffer from the condition.
To understand bipolar depression, it's a very good idea to have a basic grasp on this condition in its entirety. Those who suffer from this condition tend to endure very extreme mood swings. Manic behavior is on one end of the spectrum and depressive the other.
The swings are not caused by a desire to get into trouble. They are not caused by a psychological problem, per say. Rather, the root of this medical phenomena is an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain. When these chemicals are out of whack, behavior can be, as well.
While both phases of bipolar disorder can cause very real, very lasting problems for those who suffer from the disorder, it is the depressive phase that can be the most troubling. This is so for a number of reasons.
First off, bipolar depression is generally the phase that causes misdiagnosis. Doctors recognize the depressive symptoms and fail to recognize the manic ones. This means a person suffering from this very real, very biological condition is more likely to be treated for the single phase, rather than the entire disorder.
Make no mistake, however, the blame doesn't necessarily fall entirely on the doctors. It is possible the patients and their family members, too, fail to connect the manic episodes with the depressive ones. This can mean a doctor is forced to treat a patient with only half of the picture to go on.
Since this condition involves a chemical imbalance, the medications used to treat depression might not always be helpful. A careful management of bipolar disorder needs to be present to help ensure a patient leads as close to a normal life as possible.
The second major reason bipolar depression is a big problem is the symptoms themselves. Often mirroring true, clinical depression these symptoms can range from loss of appetite and fatigue to feelings of helplessness, sadness and guilt. It is even possible that thoughts of death and suicide will be present and even acted on. The suicide rate for untreated bipolar depression is higher than many might think.
The depressive phase can also be misidentified as nothing more than "the blues." Since the bipolar patient can go through such extreme mood swings, it can be very difficult for the person suffering and those around them to take the depressive state and recognize it for its seriousness.
Living with manic depression requires very careful management. While there is no known cure for the condition, there are treatments that can help keep its most troublesome symptoms in check. When the disorder is properly treated, the signs of bipolar depression and even the manic phases are kept well under wraps in most cases.