Depression Definition and Bipolar Definition: Mood Disorders
In psychiatry one of the most common illnesses that we find are mood disorders. Mood disorders consist of Major Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Postpartum Depression, Dysthymia, Cyclothymia, etc; a patient with these diagnoses experience among other symptoms a flat, depressed mood or mood swings. The definition of these illnesses are:
Major Depressive Disorder
The patient with major depression, mood disorders, tend to have episodes, at their worst, where they become so depressed, so flat in their affect, that they lose the will to live; the patient loses the desire to do anything pleasurable, they oversleep, they don’t care about life events, experiencing feelings of helplessness, hopelessness and worthlessness, lack of motivation to shower or eat, they lose the meaning of life and do not care about the well-being or feelings of others. When a patient reaches this state of depression, they may become suicidal. A patient can be doing well and suddenly or progressively become so depressed where they lose the will to live. This most likely is a chemical unbalance, which can be corrected with medication.
The patient with major depression experiences depressed mood, feeling sad, empty, feelings of restlessness, hopelessness, helplessness, or worthlessness, markedly diminished interest on pleasurable activities, decrease or increase in appetite, insomnia or oversleeping, fatigue or loss of energy, diminished ability to think or concentrate, indecisiveness, recurrent thoughts of death, recurrent suicidal ideas without a plan, suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide. In adolescents major depression can manifest itself as irritable mood.
It is very important that the patient taking medication also participates in psychotherapy, we have seen time and time again that taking medication is not sufficient for some patients to stay depression free, therapy is very important for some patients to remain functional, and decrease episodes of depression.
Sometimes the depression can be so severe that the patient becomes psychotic, which means they break away from reality. The chronic depressive patient is admitted multiple times to hospitals due to the severity of their depression; in some patients the depression becomes such a black hole, that they turn into suicide cases and most patients that do commit suicide usually don’t tell the therapist or psychiatrist, they just do it.
Bipolar Disorder presents with mood swings, these patients suffer from significant chemical imbalance that takes them from state of severe depression and to a mania, the manic stage can remain in place for a week, a month or more, but then they crash. In their manic state for the most part, the patient is very likeable, they talk a mile a minute, psychiatrically known as pressured speech, they engage, they tend to think that they know about any topic of discussion, they are very opinionated, they become very egotistic and flamboyant. According to the degree of the mania, the patient can change from being the life of the party to being dangerous and violent, without true conscience of what they are doing.
One of the key factors of the manic stage is having poor judgment. These are patients that get in trouble with the law; they become hyper-sexual, experiencing auditory hallucinations, paranoia, and psychosis. However, these symptoms surface only during full blown manic episodes.
The other spectrum of bipolar is when the same patient goes into a state of depression where they do not want to come out of their room, lose their appetite, develop feelings of worthlessness to the point that they may want to commit suicide; that is why it is called “bipolar” the illness swings from a depressed to a manic stage. A patient in a manic stage become paranoid, loud or depressed, do not recognize they are ill and they are hospitalized quite often, if they do not take their medication.
Some patients respond well to psychiatric treatment with medications, there are multiple mood stabilizers in the market that along with antidepressant medication help the bipolar patient stabilize; most patients respond well after they have been treated for a couple of months, however, after they are stable, some begin to question whether they really need medications, they think that because they are doing well the medication is not needed, when this happens the cycle repeats.
Postpartum depression is the result of a chemical imbalance a woman experiences after giving birth and the mother is unable to connect with her child; does not have interest or mother instinct that most new mothers have, because she is so depressed to the point of suicide, and needs to have active psychiatric treatment.
Dysthymia is a disorder where the patient has been feeling some degree of depression since childhood, they never enjoy life to the fullest, they live with and on again/off again state of the “blues.”; patients with Dysthymia, feel depressed for a while and within weeks, or months they improve, and then the cycle repeats, usually not depressed enough to the point of suicide, they live without causing major disturbances, this illness is resistant to treatment with medication.
Dysthymia patients will do better with psychotherapy and cognitive therapy, to improve their social skills, so they can live a better life with their illness.
I have basically explained Mood Disorders; hopefully I have given you knowledge of a psychiatric illness that needs to be understood in order to help the patient, especially if you are their support system.