Bipolar Depression – The Pendulum of Depression and Mania
Bipolar depression or disorder is characterized by the patient experiencing extreme highs and lows. On top of the world one minute, they can barely get out bed the next. This form of depression is very unpredictable and leaves both the patient and their family at a loss.
On the high end of the spectrum, the patient is often filled with grandiose thoughts and will exhibit manic behavior that is often taken to the extreme. They will spend a lot of money on a blowout shopping spree or spend all night building something that would normally take two weeks to complete. These episodes can also be exhibited in the form of sexual promiscuity. Overall the patient appears to be deliriously happy and seems to be in a mode of hyper drive. These manic episodes are often scary to watch and can become quite self destructive in nature. When they end, the patient then comes crashing down and becomes weepy and unable to control their emotions.
In the past, this particular disorder was called manic depression. However in modern psychology, there are different forms of bipolar depression/disorder that are based one the severity of symptoms. It has been found that although the patient isn’t necessarily in an extreme manic state, they are still experiencing fluctuations in highs versus lows that can leave them in a state of high alert and associated anxiety. Increased impulsivity is one of the characteristic signs of bipolar disorder. An example would be that the patient decides to quit their job with no prior warning or reason. These types of snap decisions are what make living with a patient who suffers so difficult.
Racing thoughts and restlessness are two key symptoms of those with bipolar depression. This “hyperactivity” can be difficult to control and can often lead to difficult social situations. The patient thinks they’re the life of the party, but those around them don’t know how to respond and are often uncomfortable. When the reaction they receive is not what they expected, they often respond with anger and a sense of persecution. This leads to difficulty in establishing relationships, which then leads to isolation. This further isolation can contribute to the downside or depressive side of the disorder.
The low sides of bipolar depression/disorder are those typical of most depression. Feelings of worthlessness, lack of interest in activities and thoughts of suicide are also characteristics. There is a high risk of suicide with this disorder, because thoughts on both sides of the pendulum are extreme. Treatment is vital for the sake of both the patient and friends and family.
Most courses of treatment involve the administration of mood stabilizing medications. The goal of treatment is to slow the swing of the emotional pendulum to land somewhere in the middle. In some extreme cases, some patients need to be hospitalized until their mood can be stabilized. Bipolar depression/ disorder is a more serious problem that requires medical intervention. If you suspect that you or a loved one is suffering, then you must seek professional help so that you or your loved one can find some relief from this debilitating condition.