DEPRESSION AND BIPOLAR DISORDERS
Dennis B. Kottler, MD
Westlake Village, CA
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See also: Bereavement
Mood Disorders fall into three broad categories: DEPRESSIVE DISORDERS, BIPOLAR DISORDERS, and OTHER MOOD DISORDERS. Each of these categories will be described briefly. For further information the reader is referred to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders - 4th edition -- which, along with other books on mood, is listed under Suggested Reading.
Caution: As with all psychiatric disorders, mood disorders must be properly diagnosed and treated by a psychiatrist. Serious mood disorders can have a high mortality rate due to suicide or neglect of other health concerns.
In the general sense, depression denotes saddened mood. However, in the clinical sense, depression encompasses a complex group of conditions which have multiple symptoms:
1 - Dysthymic disorder - Chronic, low-grade depression characterized by such symptoms as depressed mood and/or loss of interest in usual activities, as well as other depressive symptoms which by definition have lasted at least 2 years but which can persist indefinitely.
2 - Major depressive disorder - A condition characterized by symptoms including depressed mood, decreased energy and motivation, self-destructive thoughts, appetite changes, sleep pattern changes, guilt feelings, low sense of self-worth, impaired concentration, and loss of interest in usual activities. Not all of these symptoms may be present, but by definition the depressive episode must last a minimum of 2 weeks. Major depression may exist as a single episode or as a recurring disorder. See Depression Self-Test.
3 - Double depression - A condition in which a major depressive disorder is superimposed upon a dysthymic disorder.
BIPOLAR DISORDERS (Please also see: Bipolar Spectrum Disorders)
Bipolar I Disorder - A disorder in which manic or mixed-manic episodes have occured as well as depressive episodes. Manic episodes include such symptoms as grandiosity, increased energy, distractibility, rapid, pressured speech, agitation, decreased sleep, impaired judgment, and inappropriate spending or sexual activity (compared to the indvidual's baseline). Not everyone has all the symptoms. Mixed- manic episodes may have elements of depression, anger, and irritability as well as manic elements.
Bipolar II Disorder - A disorder in which depressive episodes have occurred as well as at least one hypomanic episode. A hypomanic episode may be similar to a manic episode but is less severe in intensity.
Cyclothymic Disorder - A disorder typified by many episodes of hypomania and depression which by definition has lasted at least 2 years. In general, the mood swings are less severe than in bipolar disorders I and II.
OTHER MOOD DISORDERS
Mood Disorder Due to a General Medical Condition - An example of such a medical condition would be hypothyroidism.
Mood Disorder Due to a Substance - Examples would include mood disorders due to alcohol, cannabis, coccaine, opiates, and various prescription and over the counter medications.
Article by Author: "Why We Are Depressed and What We Can Do About It"
Other Suggested Readings
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