Depression and bipolar disorder are two conditions that can have devastating effects on a loved one.
If you notice changes in the personality and behaviors of a loved one and are concerned they might be struggling with either of these conditions. Here are some of the symptoms to look out for:
The Difference Between Bipolar Disorder and Depression
Bipolar disorder and depression share a lot of similarities and are often confused with one another. These two conditions have some key differences that separate them when diagnosed, however.
Depression is more than simply feeling sad, fed up, or demotivated. Almost everyone will go through periods of feeling down, but if you’re depressed, it’ll feel like there’s no end in sight for the feeling of sadness.
All areas of your life will be affected. You’ll feel drained, both physically and mentally, have negative thoughts. Without proper treatment, you will not get better.
Bipolar disorder, also called manic depression, is different in a few key ways. You will experience similar lows to depression, but you will also experience extreme highs on the upswing.
The name bipolar refers to the opposite ends of the emotional spectrum that someone suffering from the condition experiences. One moment you’ll feel like you’re on top of the world, only to start feeling extremely low without knowing why.
Both the highs and the lows are dangerous for the person with bipolar. For example, while they’re down they can have thoughts about harming themselves. While high they are more likely to engage in risky, impulsive behaviors.
Symptoms of Depression to Watch out For in a Loved One
Depression affects everyone differently and it can be hard to spot in the early stages. Here are some of the most common symptoms to look out for:
Being distant – Look for signs that your loved one is becoming more distant from friends, family, and work colleagues.
Expressing feelings of helplessness – If they make it clear that they are having feelings of helplessness and hopelessness it’s a clear sign of depression.
General aches and pains – Look for signs of physical complaints, such as back pain, tired muscles, stomach issues, headaches, and so on.
Being demotivated – Lacking energy, motivation, and the willingness to go about their daily activities with the required enthusiasm.
Changes in appetite/weight – Depression can cause changes in appetite and weight. Sometimes it’s an increase in weight, but more often, it’s dramatic weight loss.
Easily irritated or angered – Look for signs of a short temper, snapping over small things, and being easily irritated or annoyed.
Difficulty sleeping – Staying up late, waking through the night, signs that they are always tired due to not getting enough sleep.
Difficulty concentrating – Trouble focusing and concentrating, making mistakes, missing things, forgetting appointments, and so on.
Changes in mood and personality – Visible signs they constantly have a low mood and noticing changes in their personality over time.
Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder to Watch out For in a Loved One
Bipolar disorder is characterized by extreme mood swings. The extreme highs are called “mania” episodes, and the lows are episodes of “depression.”
The symptoms of mania (highs) include:
Feeling extremely happy – Signs they are elated, overjoyed, and incredibly happy when it doesn’t feel like they should be so happy.
Feeling self-important – An exaggerated sense of their value, overflowing with ideas and suggestions, and so on.
Being easily distracted – While on a manic episode, they’ll find it difficult to concentrate or focus.
Not sleeping – Being too manic and energized to get good quality sleep and staying up late.
Loss of appetite – Not eating healthily and losing weight.
Reckless behavior – Making bad decisions in the spur of the moment, doing things that are out of character they later regret.
The symptoms of depression (lows) include all the same signs as discussed above when someone is suffering from depression.
Episodes of depression and mania can last for days or even months at a time. Look out for the signs that the person has been swinging back and forth between the two. Due to the extreme swings between the highs and the lows, it’s usually easier to tell something is up when someone has bipolar over depression.
All you can do is offer your encouragement and support to the loved one. Try to convince them to seek proper medical attention without coming across as demanding or overbearing.