Bipolar or Unipolar Depression?

If you have an episode of depression, how can you tell if it is bipolar or unipolar depression? The simple answer is, you have bipolar depression if you have ever experienced an energized (not necessarily pleasant) state that qualified as a hypomanic or manic episode. And if you only have had depressed episodes, you are considered to have unipolar depression.

If you spent 100,000$ in a week, didn’t sleep during that week, and were juggling a thousand tasks, and your brain was racing so fast that you could hardly keep up, you know that was probably a manic episode. But how do you sort it out if you had a milder period of being energized, especially if there was no negative consequence of that increase in energy, or maybe a big positive consequence?

It isn’t easy. And yet it can be a very important distinction to make. Many medications that we use to treat unipolar depression don’t work for people with bipolar depression. And there are medications that can be very helpful for bipolar depression that don’t seem to help people with unipolar depression.

Here at Moodsurfing, we have been collecting some information and tools that can help you sort this out (although, these work best if you use them with your mental health professional). We recently updated and expanded the information on the Depression and Bipolar Moods page and would love to get feedback about whether this information is helpful.