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Reggz's avatar

Does this sound like bipolar disorder or is it my depression?

Asked by Reggz (149 points ) May 10th, 2012

First off, I know you will probably all suggest seeing a psychologist/psychiatrist, and I am working on it, but in the mean time I’m just curious… I am 20 years old with clinical depression and anxiety (diagnosed by a psychologist years ago). I’ve been this way for a while and it all started during high school. It’s been getting worse and worse. I am so irritable and miserable. Lately I’ve been having fits of rage, where I scream and yell at my family for no reason. I act very carelessly and make not so intelligent decisions when I get like that. The worst part is sometimes I have suicidal thoughts and the only thing stopping me is the love for my boyfriend and family. And then sometimes I’ll have crying fits where I’m just horribly depressed and crying over the smallest things. And my moods can change so rapidly. I never know what to expect. Anyway, I know none of you can diagnose me… I just wanted opinions from others.

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12 Answers

Aethelflaed's avatar

It’s not easy to say, but my gut says, probably depression. Bipolar can have irritability as a symptom, but depression makes people irritable as well. I’d be more suspicious of bipolar if you were talking about how sometimes you felt on top of the world, higher than high, and how it led you to do destructive things because you had trouble connecting with your human limits.

Reggz's avatar

@Aethelflaed I do have times where I actually do feel happy, and sometimes I’ll get very hyper and kind of obnoxious. I can be quite destructive, though I’ve always been like that. I’m more often depressed, so you’re probably right!

likipie's avatar

It sounds like depression to me. Like @Aethelflaed said, both can cause sever mood swings. But with bipolar, it’s not regular. You’ll have bouts of “high in the sky” feelings then you’ll have bouts of “life sucks” feelings. But in between you can be pretty much normal, whatever that may be for you. My grandpa has bipolar and he can be fine one week, then the next week he’s doing ridiculously stupid things and the next week he’ll be fine again and the week after that he’s severely depressed. It’s just my opinion but it sounds like it’s just depression.

darkserenade's avatar

When you are extremely depressed, being normal can feel “high.” Mania would involve not needing much sleep and running as if by a motor. It might also include making impulsive foolish decisions and having delusions of being invincible.

jrpowell's avatar

I am not a doctor..

I am diagnosed with PTSD, Social Anxiety, and a healthy dash of Depression. I do not take any medication since the only real problem is that I am totally happy when left alone.

You sound bi-polar if I am the metric. I don’t get mad, I just tell people to fuck off, take a nap, and pretend like nothing happened.

gorillapaws's avatar

In my completely unprofessional opinion, I’m not hearing much of the manic symptoms that accompany a bi-polar diagnosis. In an abnormal psych class I took, the professor (who was an MD at the state mental health hospital) brought up an example of mania in one of his patients that was driving 80 miles/hour the wrong way down the interstate.

Here is an example of an interview with someone in a manic state.

bewailknot's avatar

If you are on medication it could be that you need a different dose or a change in medication. You need to be seen by a professional who can help you figure out what you need.

JLeslie's avatar

It doesn’t sound like bipolar disorder to me, but I am not an expert of any sort. During your “hyper” times do you ever have symtpoms like barely sleeping or not at all for days? Sexually promiscuous behavior? On the go 24/7 with bounds of energy? Wreckless behavior that is otherwise out of character for you?

I think you have underlying anger issues possibly that need to be addressed. They probably contribute to your depression and anxiety.

Make sure they are checking you thyroid as part of your regular blood tests. Thyroid problems can easily display themselves as mental illness, especially depression, anxiety, and a hyper state.

wundayatta's avatar

Sounds pretty typically bipolar to me. You could have bipolar II, which doesn’t have very high manias, but the irritability and anger and rapid change sound like rapid cycling to me. The carelessness is also typical of mania. Do you buy stuff you don’t need? Spend way too much?

Is your suicidalness because the pain is too much, or does it seem more like a kind of random idea? You can get suicidal during the down side of a mania, and it’s different from the kind of suicidalness you might have at the depth of a depression. During a depression, it seems like things are horrible and worse than any feeling you have ever felt before, and what’s worse, is that you feel like it will never end. The only way out is death.

A manic suicidality is more sudden. I’ve never experienced it because I don’t get that kind of mania. But it is like one of those brilliant ideas that suddenly appears and you might leap on it and try it before you can have a second thought. That’s because mania—the downside of a mania—can be very painful as well. You can be paranoid. Maybe hear voices. Feel like everyone is out to get you. Feel like disaster is about to occur.

Worse, you’re not really there any more. Whatever is going on in your mind is keeping your regular self away so completely you may not be aware of anything that is going on. Some people don’t even remember what happened later. Or if they do, it is from such a distance it’s as if it happened to someone else. No control. Very scary. You feel like you aren’t yourself and get so scared that you will never be yourself, and that can make you consider suicide, too. This does not sound like what you’ve felt, though. You’re concerned about family, and that is typical of depression suicidal ideation. It is what keeps most people from doing it. So it’s a good thing.

Now, as far as diagnoses are concerned— you can go to five different shrinks and get five different diagnoses. So what you think is very important. One shrink might tell you you have borderline personality disorder, and the other will say bipolar, the next depression, and another might say schizo-affective.

What your diagnosis is isn’t as important as how you treat it. The major reason why it is important to try to distinguish between depression and bipolar is because if it is bipolar and you treat depression, you can kick off a manic episode of epic proportions. This can be very bad.

You sound like you need a mood stabilizer, which means you’d probably be called bipolar. When you see the shrink, make sure you bring up all your concerns about your moods and investigate carefully if you need a mood stabilizer. Tell him or her you don’t think it is just depression, and you don’t want to take an anti-depressant without a mood stabilizer.

You are asking this question because you think you are bipolar, and if you think that, you’ve probably been researching it. You know. Trust what you know. You know better than the shrink does.

Lithium is considered the “gold standard” as far as mood stabilizers go, but younger shrinks don’t like it as much. It does have long term kidney side effects, but I’m told that on today’s therapeutic doses, those side effects are much less likely. I hope so. I’m on it. That’s all I’m on, these days. One or two more years I think, and if I’m still stable, I’m going to try going off.

There are hundreds of combinations of meds. Many anti-depressants of at least three different kinds. Six or so mood stabilizers I know of. Anti-thises and thatses. You’ll probably have to try several different meds to get to where you want to be. That’s normal. Don’t get discouraged (hah!) Seriously, the best advice my shrink gave me was to hold off on making any major decision for 3 months. This bought him time to mess with my meds. It took two years to get me within shouting distance of where I wanted to be, and he had to make me give the 3 month promise a couple of times, but it makes sense.

You’re depressed. It’s chemical. It will end if and when the meds are right. It’s not you. The pain does not last forever. You can stick through it. Death is not the only way to fix this. I have seen enough people come through bipolar and depression to feel very confident when I tell you that you will get better.

Oh. One last piece of advice. Find a good bipolar and depression group. That is a major component in getting better. Very, very helpful. It is amazing being in a room full of smart people who share all the symptoms. My group is getting very interesting. It happened by accident, but I think it is becoming a kind of story telling competition. There is someone else there who is also very talented—makes his living as a writer, actually. We’re the “heavy hitters” in the group, according to our leader. We usually go last. There’s a kind of energy…. no. I’m getting distracted. This is for another question. Sorry. But I think group is very helpful. Also individual therapy. And meds. The therapeutic triumvirate. And it doesn’t matter whether it’s bipolar or not—these things help. Group is free, often.

Bill1939's avatar

When I retired, I became severely depressed and sought psychiatric help. He diagnosed bipolar disorder. I was put on a variety of antidepressants, none of which worked and in fact a combination of them made my depression worse. I have a history of depression going back to age six. My sister developed paranoid schizophrenia, as did my maternal grandfather, and my mother was likely manic-depressive (though not diagnosed). When I suggested that ADHD might be a better fit (I have a degree in psyc) he insisted his diagnosis was correct. I insisted to be taken off the meds he prescribed and when we had tapered them down to zero I quit seeing him. My point in this lengthy monologue is that the label for you emotional condition is less important than talking with a professional about it and trying non medicinal means of controlling your outbursts and managing ou feelings. Good luck.

MrsLorraine's avatar

I think you could be in the Bipolar spectrum.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

As a Psychologist (PhD) I can tell you that depression with anxiety can present with agitation and restlessness. The features of the Manic phase of bipolar disorder is associated with a group of behavioural and cognitive features very different from what you have described.

By all means seek help regardless. The label has no meaning by itself. What is important is timely, appropriate professional treatment that helps you to fell better and function better in your own life.

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