Depression: Difference between Unipolar and Bipolar Depression

By Gabriella Phillip

Eliciting a history of brief periods of improved mood is the key to differentiating between unipolar and bipolar depression. Bipolar spectrum disorders typically begin earlier in life than unipolar depression; the usual sign of bipolar disorder in young children could be depression and/or a combination of depression and states of mania/hypomania. It’s significant to ask the patient how old they were when they first experienced a depressive episode. Men have a higher rate of bipolar disorder than women, but the rates for unipolar depression in men and women are more equal.

Some patients with bipolar spectrum disorder can go from normal to severely depressed technically overnight whereas unipolar depressive episodes tend to occur more gradually. Patients with bipolar spectrum depression tend to experience weight gain and crave carbs, while those with unipolar depression usually experience weight loss or loss of appetite. Patients suffering from bipolar depression tend to show irregular responses to antidepressant monotherapy, including switching into mania. Bipolar spectrum disorder is an inheritable mental illness, so it’s vital to take family history into consideration. While patients diagnosed with unipolar depression usually note that their symptoms fluctuate in a more stable, regular pattern, those with bipolar depression have moods that can vary unpredictably, usually with no cause.

When treating bipolar depression, antidepressants are used in combination with some sort of mood stabilizer. Treatment for unipolar depression can include medication like SSRIs and antidepressants, often in combination with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and psychotherapy. Screening instruments including the Bipolar Spectrum Diagnostic Scale and the Mood Disorders Questionnaire can be effective and helpful tools in differentiating unipolar from bipolar depression.

If you or someone you know is struggling with Bipolar Disorder or Unipolar Depression, Arista Counseling and Psychotherapy can help. Please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .

Sources

https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/special-reports/major-depressive-episode-it-bipolar-i-or-unipolar-depression

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2850601/

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry/article/unipolar-and-bipolar-depression-different-or-the-same/AE364DFBFFBAF1F66A9294A55120C64E/core-reader

 

 

Bipolar Disorder: Cognitive Deficits of Which You May Not Be Aware

By Samantha Glosser

When you hear the term “bipolar disorder” your first thoughts are most likely about the cycle of elevated and depressed moods, of extreme highs and extreme lows. This is to be expected, as these states of mania and depression are hallmark features of bipolar disorder, and they are typically the symptoms highlighted by mainstream media. In mania, individuals exhibit symptoms of high energy, decreased need for sleep, feelings of euphoria, extreme irritability, and impulsivity. In a depressive state, individuals display symptoms of low energy, feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, avolition, and suicidal ideation.

Sometimes there can be more to bipolar disorder than just these symptoms. For some, after the onset of bipolar disorder symptoms, there is a marked decrease in cognitive capacity across a few different areas. Typical cognitive deficits reported with bipolar disorder include the following: difficulties with working memory, such as word retrieval, and executive functioning, such as problems with planning, prioritizing, and organizing behavior. Individuals also experience difficulties retaining information that was just presented to them and can even experience slowed thought processes. These adverse cognitive impacts appear at both polarities of mood. It is also important to distinguish between two types of cognitive deficits: mood-phase specific and enduring. Mood-phase specific cognitive deficits are typical to most individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder, as these symptoms are only present during periods of mood intensity. Enduring deficits, on the other hand, will remain present even when an individual has sustained a period of partial remission or is at a baseline level of functioning (i.e., they are not experiencing mania or depression). Not everyone diagnosed with bipolar disorder experiences enduring cognitive deficits. Individuals with a history of higher acuity symptoms, as well as individuals with a history of treatment resistant symptoms, treatment non-compliance, and/or unhealthy lifestyle choices are more likely to suffer from enduring cognitive deficits.

If you or someone you know appears to be suffering from bipolar disorder, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can assist you. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/


Source: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/bipolar-you/201412/cognitive-deficit-in-bipolar-disorder