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Mental Health

Separating Depression and Bipolar Disorder

07/12/2007

Question:

Hi. I have been diagnosed with depression from an early age, and I have been on different medications but I have slowly drifted off them.

I am now 23 and I have talked to a wide variety of people, and before I go in and talk to my family doctor, I was wondering what or if there is a difference between depression and being bipolar. I ask because I've noticed a few trends that I don't really have any control over, and for the past few weeks my mood has really been affecting my job. My weight has been really sporatic, which is scary since I'm underweight as it is. My sleeping habbits have stayed the same, but they have never been good to start with, but what's been bothering me the most is that it seems that my mood is really easily influenced by people and my surroundings.

I would just like to get educated a little bit before I talk to my doctor. Any links, info, or reading material would greatly be appreciated. Thanks.

Answer:

Get a measure of the severity of your depression symptoms using the PHQ-9 form. Complete that form and take it with you to your family doctor.

Also, print a copy of the Mood Disorder Questionnaire (MDQ) and fill it out. The MDQ may help you and your doctor talk about whether you have bipolar disorder.

Unstable mood swings may be an indicator of bipolar type II. The distinction is important because bipolar disorder almost always requires mood stabilizers for effective management.

Try reading Getting your Life Back by Jesse Wright and Monica Basco for a summary of the many ways to treat depression.

For more information:

Go to the Mental Health health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Lawson  Wulsin, MD Lawson Wulsin, MD
Professor of Psychiatry and Family Medicine, Training Director of the Family Medicine Psychiatry Residency Program
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati