Over 19 million adults experience a form of depressive illness each year. It may or may not have a clear cause. Its cause may be biological (neurotransmitter imbalance) or it may be psychological. Either way, it’s considered to be generally treatable and manageable when appropriate help and guidance is given. Most interestingly, people with a family history of depression are more likely to experience it. This hints at a genetic factor being involved.
Depression, just the term, is used very easily. There are however, key differences between clinical depression and having a low mood. Bipolar also suffers this “watering down” of it’s perceived severity because people simplify it to refer to the mood swings we all experience (especially when we’re tired).
Sadness, or low mood tends to be transient, lasting a few days at most. The symptoms of depression can range from mild to severe. It may be that you have a constant low mood, lasting weeks. Severe depression is linked to feelings of hopelessness and suicide risk. Sleep issues, lack of appetite, no energy and even physical aches and pains are common symptoms.
With regards to bipolar disorder, it’s not as simple as feeling rapidly happy and sad. Bipolar is characterized by manic episodes and depressive episodes. Manic episodes involve high energy levels, a very “good” mood but with possible aggressiveness and irritability, which may be extreme. Similarities to ADHD with bad concentration and impulsive, bad decision making ability are also common in a manic state. A depressive episode resembles depression (as one would expect). Each of these states is better thought of as a range of moods, rather than being opposites. Extreme mania can involve hallucinations and symptoms of psychosis, for example. A mixed bipolar state also exists in which the lines between mania and depression are more blurred, and symptoms from each can coexist – hopelessness with extreme energy levels, for example.
Possibly because of our flippancy towards depression and how easily we throw this term around, along with the strange relationship society has with mental illness, many people wait a long time before seeking help. Getting advice and getting yourself on the path to managing (and eventually beating) depression or bipolar should be done as soon as you can. There are a variety of medications and also psychological techniques that have been developed to help. With new research also investigating the possible benefits of cannabis and its derivatives when treating depression and bipolar, you’ve a wide selection of options to help suit your personal needs.