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3.9 How do you tell unipolar depression and bipolar disorder apart?




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This article is from the Bipolar Disorder FAQ, by barry@webveranda.com (Barry Campbell) with numerous contributions by others.

3.9 How do you tell unipolar depression and bipolar disorder apart?


If the person in question is known to have had even a single Manic or Hypomanic
Episode, then there is virtually no question; the diagnosis is a form of bipolar
disorder (or, in the case of hypomania, possibly cyclothymia.)

If the person in question is currently depressed, and his or her history is not
known, or is incomplete, the following guidelines by Dr. Ivan Goldberg may prove
to be useful:

The things that make me suspect bipolarity in a patient
diagnosed as unipolar are:

- oversleeping when depressed

- overeating when depressed

- a history of bipolarity in the family

- a patient who when depressed can still joke and laugh

- anyone with a history of frequent depressive episodes
(rapidly cycling unipolar disorder)

- success as a salesperson, politician, or actor (in school
or real world)

- extreme rejection sensitivity

- a history of having ever been diagnosed as bipolar or given
lithium (except to potentiate antidepressants)

Of course, a unipolar patient can still sleep too much, unipolar depression or
bipolar disorder can surface earlier or later in life, and so on. These are
guidelines, not hard-and-fast rules.


 

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