Depression vs Bipolar Disorder: A Guide to the Symptoms & Differences

Did you know 1 in 5 US adults suffer from mental illness in any given year?
The unfortunate reality is, there’s a lot of confusion around mental illness these days.

One area that tends to confuse people are the differences between depression and bipolar disorder.

We’ve broken down the key differences in an easy-to-understand fashion. Let’s learn how these mental disorders differ, so you can be better equipped to help a friend or loved one in the future.

Depressive Disorders

Depressive disorders, such as major depressive disorder and persistent depressive disorder, are debilitating for the sufferer.

They can cause the individual to lose interest in daily activities, suffer from a low mood, and have low self-worth.

Depression doesn’t always manifest in a fashion that people recognize, however. Those who have a depressive disorder might seem overly angry, causing them to be unable to focus, or isolate themselves as often as possible.

Depression is often co-occurring with anxiety which can lead to a seemingly endless feedback cycle for the person suffering from the disorder. It also puts a person at high risk for substance abuse issues.
Depression can either be persistent or occur in major episodes. If major episodes become severe enough, a person can even become delusional. Suicide is sometimes the result if symptoms go untreated.

Bipolar Disorders

Bipolar disorders are rhythmic. Far from being the swift mood swings that sometimes get mislabeled as “bipolar” in non-clinical settings, these swings can last for days or weeks at a time.

The primary symptom is repeating episodes of mania and depression.
Mania can cause an individual to go for days without sleeping, cause them to be euphoric and impulsive, and often has the person forming grandiose plans. Sometimes, the person might be easily agitated as well.

It occurs in two forms: hypomania and full-blown mania.
While hypomania can cause risk-taking behavior and has some level of physical risk because of a perceived lack of need for sleep and lowered appetite, it is usually manageable.

The symptoms named above are actually easier to identify during a hypomanic episode.

On the other hand, clinical manic episode can obscure symptoms, as the person becomes delusional, or even goes into psychosis. Hospitalization is often necessary for full manic episodes that aren’t managed by medication.
Bipolar disorder is generally sorted into Type 1 and Type 2, depending on the manic states. Type 2 disorders display hypomania, which may not overly interfere with day-to-day function. Type I Bipolar Disorder features intense and often prolonged manic episodes.

Depression vs. Bipolar: The Key Differences

The biggest difference between these two disorders is the manic features of bipolar disorder.

While the depressive element is the same, and can vary in intensity in both disorders, those who solely have a depressive disorder don’t experience manic episodes.

Is it Time to Seek Help?

When you’re seeking help, you’ll need a diagnosis and proper care. Figuring out whether a person is suffering from depression or bipolar isn’t something that the layperson should seek to discover.

If you or a loved one suspect that you’re suffering from one of these disorders, there is help available.

Contact us today and we will do everything we can do to help you.