Unipolar depression and bipolar disorder are two common mood disorders. The emotions that make these two disorders classify as mood disorders are depression and mania. Depression is a mood that makes a person feel sad and low and makes life seem overwhelming and challenging. Mania, however, is the opposite. Mania is a state of emotion where a person feels an abnormally elevated mood. Both can last for a long amount of time, even after recovery, and damage personal and social functioning.
If a person has combined emotions of mania and depression, the person would normally be diagnosed as manic-depressive, or having bipolar disorder. If a person suffers only from depression and has no history of mania this person suffers from unipolar depression. There are several different ways to tell if a person has bipolar disorder or unipolar depression because there are major differences in the causes and the symptoms. Treatments for these disorders differ as well.
The causes of bipolar disorder and unipolar depression are somewhat different from each other. Although both bipolar disorder and unipolar depression can be genetic and can be caused by abnormal brain function and structure, bipolar disorder has been linked to childhood trauma, abuse, and low self-esteem. The causes of bipolar disorder are not always. However, unipolar depression has been linked to alcohol and drug abuse. Stressful situations such as the loss of a job, death of a loved one, debt, divorce, illness, and abuse can also cause unipolar depression.
Much like the the causes of the of the two disorders the symptoms are also different. Both show emotional symptoms such as anger and irritability and physical symptoms such as sleepiness or fatigue. Unipolar depression symptoms include emotional symptoms such as extreme sadness or anxiety. Motivational symptoms include the lack of drive or initiative for anything in life such as work. Behavioral symptoms include becoming less active, spending more time alone or in bed, moving slower than they normally would, or speaking slower than they normally would. Cognitive symptoms include negative thoughts about themselves such as inferiority, being undesirable to others, feeling inadequate, and even having thoughts that they are hurtful or dangerous.
People diagnosed with unipolar depression can also be pessimistic about most or all aspects of their lives and consider themselves helpless. Physical symptoms include headaches, a severe change in sleeping habits and eating habits, dizziness, general pain, indigestion, and constipation. All of these symptoms can also be exhibited by a person who has bipolar disorder when they are in the low, or depressive state. However, when a person with bipolar disorder is in the euphoric, or mania state of their disorder they display symptoms opposite of the symptoms of unipolar depression. Emotional symptoms include great happiness or euphoria at times when it is out of place for what is going on in the person’s life at that time. Motivational symptoms may include the need for constant excitement, involvement, or companionship.
This would be a social style that is overwhelming for people who do not have bipolar disorder. Behavioral symptoms include moving more quickly as as if there is not enough time in the day, talking fast and loud, and having conversations usually containing jokes, efforts to be clever, or complaints. The patient may also dress in flashy clothing, give away large amounts of money to people they do not know, or participate in activities that are dangerous. Cognitive symptoms include poor judgment, exaggerated self-esteem, loss of touch with reality, and their optimism keeps them from slowing down. Physical symptoms include large amounts of energy. The person tends to be fatigued, but will feel and act very much awake.
The treatments for both unipolar depression and bipolar disorder are completely different. Bipolar disorder is usually treated with mood stabilizers such as Lithium or carbamazepine, anticonvulsant medications such as valproic acid or lamotrigine, or pairing antidepressants with mood stabilizers. However, bipolar disorder can be treated with a combined treatment of mood stabilizers and individual, group, or family therapy. There are many more treatments for unipolar depression. Biological treatments include brain stimulation such as vague nerve stimulation, trans-cranial magnetic stimulation, and deep brain stimulation. This option of treatment is usually the last option because it is used for treatment-resistant depression. Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) is also used as a treatment for depression although it is considered controversial.
This type of treatment can cause dislocated jaws and shoulders and even broken bones. It can also cause short-term and even long-term memory loss. Another biological treatment for unipolar depression is antidepressants. These include mono-amine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors, tricyclics, and selective serotonin reputake inhibitors (SSRIs). The different types of antidepressants have different ways of combating the symptoms of depression. Other ways that are used to treat depression are free association therapy; operant conditioning which uses behavioral techniques such as pleasurable activities and rewarding behaviors that are not depressive; cognitive therapy which involves changing the negative thoughts a person has to positive thoughts; a family-social approach such as interpersonal psychotherapy and couple therapy; and culture-sensitive therapies that can also be paired with more traditional forms of therapy.
In conclusion, unipolar depression and bipolar disorder have few similarities between them such as a few emotional symptoms and even some causes. However, they are very different in these areas and treatments, also. Symptoms that a person with unipolar depression shows can also be shown by a person with bipolar disorder. However, symptoms that are shown by a person with bipolar disorder in a manic state will not be shown by a person with unipolar depression.
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