bipolar depression explained (by someone else)

I guess I’ve distracted it as much as I can this time (hello darkness my old #¥@$&). Byebye mixed episode, hello depression – may as well research the mofo.

play this song


The black dog institute‘s overview of bipolar depression in both bipolar I and II, as distinct from unipolar depression, is really good:

“Bipolar depression is the name given to the depression experienced in those who have bipolar disorder (in other words, they experience depression as well as manic or hypomanic episodes).

This is in contrast to those who experience unipolar depression, the form of depression where there are episodes of depression only (and no episodes of mania).

The depression that people with bipolar disorder experience is generally of a melancholic or psychotic type and therefore more biological in its nature.


The features of melancholic depression are:

a more severely depressed mood (see signs of depression) than is the case with non-melancholic depression
psychomotor disturbance – where movements are slowed and/or agitated, and concentration impaired. Many people describe an inability at such times to get out of bed, to fire up and do basic chores – thus, a very physical state.
Melancholic depression has a low spontaneous remission rate. It responds best to physical treatments (for example antidepressant drugs) and only minimally (at best) to non-physical treatments such as counselling or psychotherapy.


Depression and bipolar I and II

The depression experienced by sufferers of bipolar disorder can be equally as severe for people with bipolar II as for people with bipolar I, and with a similar psychomotor disturbance component. However, younger people with bipolar II are more likely to report increased sleep and food cravings rather than insomnia and appetite/weight loss as usually experienced in melancholia. Some recent studies have gone further by showing that depression can be both more frequent and more chronic in the case of bipolar II than with bipolar I, and that there is a comparable suicide risk between bipolar I and II sufferers, (with some researchers even reporting a higher risk for bipolar II sufferers). Therefore, for people with bipolar II, treating depression becomes a vitally important issue. Also, rapid cycling tends to be far more common among sufferers of bipolar II than bipolar I, leading both to difficulties in diagnosis and missed treatment opportunities.”

So, no more bipolar one upmanship, mkay?


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battlescarred, bright, bewildered, bent, blue & bipolar

9 thoughts on “bipolar depression explained (by someone else)”

  1. Great post and so true. “Hello darkness my old friend.” How many times have I said that to myself… I really hope you feel better soon, god I wouldn’t wish that depression on anyone. I am currently battling stomach churning, terrifying anxiety, every morning. Something relatively new for me. Best wishes, for you, for all of us :-)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello darkness my old end?

      Thanks lots, I don’t envy you the anxiety either – hope it eases soon. Hope you’ve told your doc, if you’re waking that way, it’s possible you’ve been having adrenalin rushes/anxiety in your sleep. I haaaaate that.


      1. Haha, that’s funny, my old end… but nope, never surrender! And wow, you are absolutely right! I’ve been screaming and kicking in my sleep because I get such anxious thoughts even while I’m asleep! I have an appt with my MD tomorrow. Let’s see what he says… Great post, so true. Feel better soon.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I am sorry to hear that darkness is closing in again. I have precious little patience for depression even though I would argue that at this point in life my manic/hypomanic/mixed reality is as dark, or almost as dark, as anything I have experienced in depression. When I was younger I used to believe that I had a magical way of pulling myself out of depression. I later came to understand that the insomnia I experience with depression was just kicking me up into hypomania and all the self obsessed sense of control that brought.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I thought it was magic too, that lovely free flying floating relief of not being depressed. Perhaps denial and ‘nature taking its course’ is kinder in the end. Eh, futile saying that. Swings and bloody roundabouts. And the dark is horrible, no matter the flavour – I wonder when yours will shift and which direction it’ll take.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I sometimes imagine that I feel things slowing to a simmer after the rolling boil of the past six months (knock on wood) but I am afraid that could be an illusion. I wish there was a tool that could measure your state and say “Yes, you are okay now… proceed”.

        Liked by 1 person

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