Bipolar depression is a condition that can range from mild to extremely severe. Even mild depression can suck the colors out of life, leaving a world all in shades of gray where it's hard to find pleasure. Moderate depression can rob you of energy and concentration, cause intense feelings of sadness and have a significant impact on your daily life. When it's severe, depression can be incapacitating and carries a risk of suicide.
Lesson 5 of Bipolar for Beginners will cover the symptoms of bipolar depression in depth. The symptoms have been grouped into five categories, and you'll read about several symptoms in each category. The descriptions of the symptoms will include information for patients and others on how to recognize them when they appear. You'll learn more from the stories of four fictional depressed people and get an illustration of ways to recognize depressive episodes. Finally, you can read more about other people's experiences with depression; you may take the opportunity to share your own symptoms as well.
If you need to review Lesson 4, which offers basic information and terms about bipolar depression, please go back to Lesson 4 before continuing to this lesson.
A Close Look at Bipolar Depression - The Symptoms
1. Changes in Activity or Energy Levels
This is a group of some of the most easily recognizable symptoms. It includes fatigue and lethargy; sleeping too much or insomnia; loss of interest in favorite activities; and avoiding others, even withdrawing from your best friends. Learn these symptoms: Changes in Activity or Energy Levels.
2. Physical Changes
People often don't realize that depression can have physical symptoms. A depressed person may have aches and pains, lose or gain weight gain, have appetite changes or experience psychomotor agitation and psychomotor retardation. Here's a closer look at how the body can be affected: Physical Effects of Bipolar Depression.
3. Emotional Pain
This group contains the facets of depression most people are aware of: prolonged sadness, feelings of guilt, worthlessness, despair or helplessness and loss of self-esteem. Any one or more of these symptoms can be a common reaction to a traumatic event, such as the loss of a job or the death of a loved one. But if they continue for too long or are too severe, you should seek help. See how misery expresses itself: Emotional Symptoms.
4. Difficult Moods
Bipolar depression doesn't have to mean a person is just going around feeling sad. Irritability, anger, worry and anxiety, pessimism, indifference and a tendency to be self-critical may also be present. Read: The Difficult Moods of Bipolar Depression.
5. Changes in Cognitive Skills
When depression affects the way you think, it can have a profound impact on behavior. The symptoms in this group - difficulty concentrating, indecisiveness, memory problems and disorganization - may be the among the ones first noticed by teachers, co-workers and supervisors because of the way they affect school or on-the-job performance. Learn about symptoms often not recognized as depressive: Changes in Cognitive Skills.
Fitting the Symptoms Together
Here's a look at how bipolar depression affects four fictional people. As you read, you'll understand just how different the experience can be from one person to another, and you'll gain understanding of depression's complexity. (At the end there is a discussion on diagnosing the characters. You don't need to be concerned about this - we will be covering diagnosis and the forms of bipolar disorder in a future lesson.) Here's the story: Personal Signs of Depression.
Are you or someone you care for heading into a depressive episode? Here are some ways to help you decide: Recognizing a Depressive Episode.
Insights from My Experience
This chapter of my online bipolar journal, tells about how, observing myself, I take stock of the symptoms I'm having. It's a curiously unemotional evaluation of those symptoms - as if I were looking at myself through another person's eyes. Then, once I've concluded I am depressed, I take swift action. Perhaps this kind of assessment of your symptoms will help you do the same.
What About You?
If you want to share your depression symptoms, here is the place to do it. You can also read what others have to say. These entries are often sad because it seems the writers should be seeking help, yet it often seems they haven't. If your own symptoms are as troubling, I urge you to contact your doctor or someone else (such as a strong and sympathetic friend or family member, a person at your place of worship, a teacher, a local clinic, a hotline, etc.) who can help you find the assistance you need right away. Share: What Are Your Depression Symptoms?