Social Question

serenityNOW's avatar

Bipolar's (Or anyone else afflicted with depression) - how do you know the difference between types of depression... (See details...)

Asked by serenityNOW (3631points) February 3rd, 2012

I just ended a two-month relationship with a guy that I really enjoyed being a couple with. Yeah, I know two months. Epic.

Anyway, he was really nice, but a little flakey, so I called it quits. So, I’m experiencing post-relationship blues. I was just wondering, for sake’s argument, if what I’m going through is just melancholy, or if it’s bipolar-depression? (I haven’t been on the roller-coaster of relationships in a long time, primarily because of situations like this.)

It’s just with the depressive bipolar issues, it could be months before I feel better, as opposed to just being bummed out, which should vanish much sooner. It’s just, right now I can’t decipher which it is. How soon will the blues lift? Is there a way to prevent this turning into something bigger?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

9 Answers

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I also have bipolar disorder.

I get sad all the time, but it’s not the same thing as a depressive episode. I remember one therapist telling me that a bipolar depressive episode doesn’t need a reason. It simply happens. My doctor and I have found a medication combination that has kept me stable for quite awhile now, so I haven’t experienced deep depression for more than a year.

Only time will tell if what you have are the blues or depression. I recommend exercise to combat it. Just walking at a brisk pace helps. I am currently dealing with some very deep issues and old traumas with my therapist that can get me down easily. A brisk walk helps me a lot.

I also use affirmations. I take the negative thoughts my mind generates and turn them into positives. I look myself in the mirror and repeat those positives whether I believe them or not. Saying the words has power.

You said one thing that bothers me. You mentioned not being on the roller-coaster of relationships in a long time. I hope you are not denying yourself the pleasure of intimacy because of fear of breakups. That would be a real tragedy. I mention this, because I often do this. I will meet some man and establish some kind of relationship only to end it before it has a chance to get off the ground. I’m working on correcting this behavior, and I’m making progress. Still, it’s slow going.

Coloma's avatar

I think in your case it is most likely what would be called a “situational” depression. If it goes on for weeks and weeks then maybe some intervention is in order.
There is a huge difference between loss related depression that can linger for a few months, and longterm mood disorders and/or biologically induced depression.

Death, divorce, breakups, job loss, pet loss, etc. all can cause mild to moderate depression in otherwise non-depressive types. I don’t know if bi-polar or other brain chemistry issues can just show up out of nowhere at anytime, that would be a question for a professional.

Supacase's avatar

My episodes of depression feels more like despair than sadness. They pop up whenever the hell they want with no real rhyme or reason.

Of course, there are many different types and levels of depression so my experience may not be helpful to you at all.

If you have never had depression before, this is mostly likely situational. Break-ups are hard.

wundayatta's avatar

Are you wondering if you are bipolar, or have you been diagnosed with bipolar?

Bipolar is different from unipolar depression in that you do have the manic episodes as well. You can get check lists of mania signs from places like WebMD, etc, or (depression and bipolar support alliance) or NAMI. We’re talking things like not getting any sleep. Not eating much. Feeling like your mind is always racing twice as fast as it used to. Generating tons of ideas and starting lots of projects, but lacking on follow through. Short attention span. You might get paranoid. You can have hallucinations. Voices. You might find yourself spending lots of money and shopping for shit you don’t need. You might start getting angry easily. Irritable. There’s tons more.

Then there are the dips into depression. These can happen in hours, or for a day, or for a week, or a month and then back up and then down again. And then there are the times when you get into depression and you go so far down and you don’t just think, but you know you are never getting out. It hurts like hell. You feel like shit. You know you are worthless. Everyone hates you. You have no friends. No one cares. They would all be better off without you on the scene.

If that’s the depression you are talking about it, you sure hide it well. Your writing, all two paragraphs of it, lol, don’t show me the signs I’d expect. But that doesn’t mean anything.

If you are worried about this then see a doctor or better yet, see a psychiatrist and get a diagnosis. Depression is not something to mess with. You should be scared if this is depression. 20% of people with bipolar disorder don’t survive the disorder. They take their own lives. It is a serious, serious problem. Are you thinking about suicide? If so, are you thinking about how to do it? Have you started to assemble the things you need to do it? If so, please get help now! You may not even have time to see a shrink. Just get to a hospital now.

Like I said, your question doesn’t sound like this, but you need to know the facts and if you recognize yourself in any of the serious stuff, get help now. Don’t mess with it. This is basic mental health triage, I guess. They are doing a training about it in my area and I should probably go to see what it’s all about. I know this stuff because I’m bipolar and I’ve lived it. Pretty good teacher—life. I’m glad I made it. If you want to know what it looks like when you are sick, check out some of my early posts (August 2008 and after). You’ll see the signs all over the place.

serenityNOW's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake – One thing you mentioned: “I hope you are not denying yourself the pleasure of intimacy because of fear of breakups.” – Guilty as charged. Even my psychiatrist says everyone is entitled to a relationship. I’m not necessarily scared of breakups, but the whole gamut of emotions that manifest during/after a relationship. Often times, I wonder if (romantic) relationships are even worth it. Definitely something I should work on.

@wundayatta – Yes, I’m diagnosed bipolar, with a propensity toward the depressive side, even though I’ve been known to have some manic-episodes that need to be kept in check every so often. I’m well medicated (Thankfully not over medicated.) So, I can feel these wretched emotions. I think that’s ideal. Also, I can go for a medicine “tune-up” as needed, but granted this does’t exacerbate into some profound bottomless depression, I’d rather work through it.
Oh, and I can see why you would’ve have wondered if I was bipolar after re-reading my question. My bad.

anartist's avatar

Why assume you are mentally ill? It is perfectly normal to be “up” while in love and “down” when a relationship you value ends. Rather than contemplating your navel get out there and find someone new.

My mother once said “Men are like streetcars. Another one comes along every 10 minutes.”

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@anartist : The OP stated in his comment right above your answer that he’s been diagnosed bipolar and that he is doing well on medication.

anartist's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake that doesn’t mean he/she has to assume the worst possible scenario for dealing with life’s ups and downs.

wundayatta's avatar

Well that’s a different kettle of fish entirely. I think it’s important to know what your diagnosis is so we don’t have to go worrying about that. It’s also very important to know you have a psychiatrist and you are on medication. Those are basic facts that anyone who is bipolar probably should disclose when asking for advice, if they want to get anything useful.

So, assuming you are medicated and therapized, you want to know how to tell the difference between situational depression and bipolar depression. Hah! The gazillion dollar question! Not even your hairdresser knows for sure (reference to an old Clairol commercial when they claimed you could color your hair and your hair dresser wouldn’t know). In this case, it’s the shrink that doesn’t know for sure.

Nor do we, for that matter.

Remember when you really were depressed and you thought this was what the rest of your life was going to be like? Remember when it seemed like nothing would ever change? You could not remember what being happy was like, much less imagine ever getting there.

For me, it was like walking on the bottom of the ocean. It was a deep, cold ocean and I could look up and I couldn’t even see a glimpse of the sun. Later on, when I actually did start getting better, I rose towards the surface, and I got to the point where I could see there was sun, but I got stuck. It seemed like I was forever in this depression that was low level compared to the worst, but it never got better and I just couldn’t imagine ever being happy.

My journey had a lot to do with love, since I believed the only thing that would get me out of this depression was if someone would fall in love with me. I was married at the time. I still am married—to the same woman, miracle of miracles. But I was looking for love elsewhere, and that drove both my mania and my depression. I was not diagnosed at the time.

Even after the diagnosis, I had ups and downs driven by my emotions involved with love affairs. Gradually they grew less and less extreme until eventually, things did settle down and I no longer needed to be seeking out love online in order to try to make myself feel better. But I was certainly using love in a way like a drug.

Separating out the effects of my meds and the med changes and the effect of my relationships was pretty much impossible. Figuring out what the underlying contribution of my bipolar is the same. It’s all mixed up. It all affects everything else. There is no saying I can take care of this myself, but I need meds to take care of that, and the advice of my shrink or therapist for the other thing.

We’re always working it. Always fighting for stability. And we always, I believe, benefit from using all the tools we have at our disposal.

At one point, I tried to go off lithium. Then something situational hit me, and I freaked and I went to my shrink and went back on lithium. I stabilized quickly, and later on, realized that I probably could have handled it on my own, without going back on lithium.

Since then, I’ve run into other situations that have thrown me, mostly having to do with relationships of various kinds, and I’ve vowed to fight them without going back to my shrink, and I’ve been successful. Eventually, I straightened out my love life, and things have now been stable with my wife for a long time, and I have been stable emotionally, and I have been coming off my meds.

I came off one med—an anti-depressant, as planned with my shrink. I came off a second, a mood stabilizer, in an unplanned way due to an emergency allergic reaction. Turned out it wasn’t to the med, but we didn’t know that at the time. He told me to come off cold turkey and I did. I had some withdrawal reactions, but I survived them, and am back to my stable self.

I feel like I know myself better. I feel like I have a good sense for what I can handle myself and for when I need to get more help.

I think that if you know yourself and your tools, then you can handle it. You know enough to not fool yourself. You will work on handling this on your own, knowing that when it gets too deep, you’ll ask for medical help. If you know for sure that you will get help, then I think that gives you the freedom to attack the problem on your own. So long as you don’t do the macho thing of saying no more medical help, and as long as you know when it gets too deep, then you’ll be ok.

When is it too deep? Well, if you find yourself asking whether it’s time to go see a doctor, then I’d at the very least talk to someone you trust and I’d probably go see the therapist to get a second opinion. It doesn’t hurt to talk. They will work with you. They won’t always try to give you more meds if you tell them you really want to handle it on your own. I think that most docs will respect that. If your’s doesn’t, find another one. Otherwise, use them, as needed.

Answer this question




to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther