ZocdocAnswersDoes manic depression mean I'm bipolar?

Question

Does manic depression mean I'm bipolar?

I think I have manic depression. I'm 21 years old. Could I be bipolar?

Answer

Bipolar mood disorder, also know was manic depressive disorder, is a psychiatric condition characterized by periods of mania and periods of depression. People with bipolar disorder, similar to people with major depressive disorder, suffer from periods of depressed mood. These are typically characterized by depressed mood, loss of interest or pleasure in activities you once enjoyed, low energy, sleeping more or less, eating more or less, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, among other symptoms. The difference between major depression and bipolar disorder is that people with bipolar disorder also experience periods of acute mania. These are characterized by a distinct periods (lasting at least one week) of elevated, expansive or irritable mood. The symptoms people usually experience as part of a manic episode include inflated self esteem or grandiose thoughts, decreased need for sleep, being more talkative than usual, being highly distractable or not being able to finish any activities, increased agitation, racing thoughts, or even spree behavior (e.g. excessive shopping, gambling, sexual activity). These manic and depressive need to be present for a sufficient length of time and need to be of sufficient intensity to cause the patient significant dysfunction, distress, or dissatisfaction in their life. Bipolar disorder is not uncommon, affecting about 1% of people, but is certainly less prevalent than other common psychiatric disorders like major depression. It is a disorder with very serious implications: the morbidity and mortality of the disorder is very high owing mostly to the negative influence it has on the patient's ability to make rational decisions during periods of mania, the mortality associated with suicide, and the high prevalence of comorbid psychiatric disorders such as substance abuse and dependence. This is why it is crucial to seek consultation in person with a licensed psychiatrist if you think you may have bipolar disorder or have any of its symptoms. I can not urge you strongly enough to seek evaluation by a psychiatrist so you can be adequately assessed or possibly treated for this serious disorder.

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