Why is bipolar depression such a debilitating mood state?

Bipolar depression is not always debilitating. We see a wide range of acuity with bipolar depression. Some depressive states may be mild whereas others can be acute. And for those with bipolar disorder who enter a mild depression, the experience is not necessarily debilitating.

Now that said, there are a couple of other factors at play that make bipolar depression difficult to live with. If depressive acuity is in the moderate to acute range, then part of what makes this so difficult is the fact that an individual's depressive experience may be recurrent and chronic. So it isn't just the fact that someone is depressed, but it may be their fifth bout of major depression over a six or seven year period of time. With each successive relapse the individual's sense of hopelessness may increase because he or she may feel there is no option of ever truly being free from the mood disorder.

Additionally, the most common treatment for moderate to acute depression - antidepressant medication - is often contraindicated for those with bipolar disorder. Antidepressants prescribed to those with bipolar disorder can precipitate new episodes elevated mood. Therefore, psychiatric options can be more limited in response to bipolar depression as opposed to unipolar depression. This too can contribute to the pain and frustration for those experiencing bipolar depression.

Continue Learning about Bipolar Depression (Manic Depression)

Bipolar Depression (Manic Depression)

Bipolar Depression (Manic Depression)

Bipolar depression (or manic depression) is another name for bipolar disorder, a psychiatric condition that causes severe mood swings. Symptoms of bipolar depression include severe sadness lasting two or more weeks, having little ...

energy and interest in activities. During manic episodes or mania, the person with bipolar depression has periods of high energy, extreme productivity, happiness, excitement and possible engagement in risky behaviors. Treatment for bipolar depression can vary and often includes a combination of therapy and medication.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.