Monday, September 9, 2013

How To Tell Unipolar Depression From Bipolar Depression

DEPRESSION as a psycho-medical condition is broadly classified into three types: unipolar depression, major depressive disorder, and bipolar affective depression. Bipolar affective depression is more serious than the other two types, but all can be treated to the point of cure or a high degree of control. In this report we shall look at how to distinguish between the three types of depression.

Unipolar depression: As said above, this is the less serious of the three types of depression but the most common psychiatric illness affecting 6%-10% of adults. Unipolar depression can usually be attributed, directly or indirectly, to an external stimulus such as a recent incident or an event in the patient's life, or an illness, or side-effects of dugs. In other words, unipolar depression is 'reactive depression'.

The most serious symptoms of unipolar depression are:

  • Suicidal thoughts

  • Loss of interest in life and activities of life

  • Negative attitude

  • Avoidance of eye contact while talking

  • Diminished libido

  • Weight loss

  • Sleep disorders

  • Gastrointestinal disorders

Major depressive disorder: Many medical studies have not considered this type of depression as a separate category but a more intense form of unipolar depression with the only major difference being that it cannot be attributed to any known cause.

Bipolar affective depression: This category of depression is a combination of unipolar depression and mania, and is therefore also called 'manic-depressive disorder'. It is a very severe psychosomatic disorder. The mood of the patient cyclically and severely swings from the unipolar depression to mania. The symptoms of bipolar affective depression are:

  • All or some of the symptoms of unipolar depression stated above.

  • Additional symptoms such as:

    • A combination of paranoia and schizophrenia

    • False sense of grandiosity.

    • Picking up quarrels that can deteriorate into physical fights.

    • Hyperactivity

    • Abnormal talkativeness

    • Lack of judgment

Conclusion: Unipolar depression is the most common, but bipolar affective depression is the most serious. In many cases, bipolar affective depression begins with only the symptoms of unipolar depression and then deteriorates, making it difficult to diagnose when the patient first approaches the doctor. Also, it has been found that bipolar affective depression often has a higher genetic load, i.e. the patient has a family history of manic behavior. All types of depression can be treated, usually successfully if the patient abides by medical advice, and does not increase / decrease dosage, or interrupt or stop medication on his or her own accord. Finally, self-medication for any type of depression is a strict no-no because most anti-depressants come with their side effects, most of which are potentially dangerous.

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