The depression symptoms of Bipolar Disorder are similar to Unipolar Depression (also called Major Depressive Disorder or MDD) and may include an individual being withdrawn from family and friends, showing noticeably little interest in usually pleasurable activities, and perhaps a significant change in weight or sleep. Persons with Bipolar Disorder also tend to have low energy levels during their depressive periods, and may have a hard time concentrating. In its most serious forms, these periods may result in thoughts of death or suicide.
IMPORTANCE OF TREATING MANIA IN BIPOLAR DISORDER
An individual with Bipolar Disorder may also experience manic episodes which are often just as problematic as depressive episodes. These may include racing thoughts, inability to focus for an extended period of time, reduced need for sleep, and engaging in high risk activities (gambling, excessive spending, or indescriminate sexual activity, etc.). In addition to these symptoms, someone in a manic episode will often be noticeably more talkative and feel an inflated sense of self.
Many people with Bipolar Disorder will present during periods of depression, and fail to report prior manic episodes. A detailed history is important to establish a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder. Collateral information from family, friends, emergency room visits, or other sources may be needed to make an accurate diagnosis.
OPTIONS FOR TREATMENT OF BIPOLAR DISORDER
There are a number of options that someone with Bipolar Disorder can take when it comes to treatment. The most common is medication, which can be very effective. However, there may be side effects such as headache, stomach upset, weight gain, tremor, thyroid and kidney problems, or sexual issues.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is an FDA-approved treatment for Major Depressive Disorder that uses a MRI-strength magnetic field to stimulate very specific parts of the brain. One of its main benefits is its low tendency to produce negative side effects. Current studies have shown TMS may also have a role in the depressed phase of Bipolar Disorder.
*At this time, TMS is not FDA-approved for the treatment of Bipolar Disorder, which would be considered an off-label application.