Major Depressive Disorder… Bipolar Depression — What’s the Difference?

Major depression is when a person feels depressed most of the time, with additiondepression researchal symptoms of weight changes, sleeping difficulties, being tired, feeling worthless or guilty, trouble concentrating or making decisions, loss of interest or pleasure in activities, and thoughts of suicide. When someone has several of these symptoms on most days for two weeks or longer, they may be diagnosed with major depression.

Bipolar disorder, or manic depression, is diagnosed when someone’s mood swings from depression to one with an extremely high level of energy and a “manic” mood, which may be euphoric or irritable.

Additional types of depression include:

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)—This type of major depression occurs during the winter months and typically lessens in the spring and summer.

Psychotic Depression—This is a type of major depression with the added symptoms of hallucinations, delusions, and/or paranoia.

Peripartum (Postpartum) Depression—This type of depression occurs in women during the weeks and months following childbirth.

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)—This occurs in women at the start of their period, with depression and other symptoms such as irritability, anxiety, and fatigue.

Atypical Depression—Atypical depression describes a pattern of depressive symptoms, but that may be temporarily relieved by positive events.

Situational Depression or Stress Response Syndrome—This is not a major depressive disorder, but occurs when someone has a depressed mood due to a stressful life event.

Treatments for depression run the gamut from medications such as SSRIs, MAOIs, and tricyclic antidepressants to diet changes, psychotherapy, and alternative medicine options. Treatment plans are developed by doctors for each individual based on the type of depression, symptoms, and severity. The treatment plan may need to be adjusted over time for maximum effectiveness.

Depression is a complex condition and, while researchers know more now than ever before, there is still much to learn about its origins. Currently, the major factors impacting depression include:

  •  Nerves in the brain, relating to nerve cell connections, growth, and the functioning of nerve circuits
  • Biological factors within the amygdala, thalamus, and hippocampus
  • Genes—according to the article “What causes depression?” from Harvard Health Medical School, half of patients with bipolar disorder have a relative who suffers from a similar mood pattern
  • Temperament, a combination of genetics and life experiences, which determines a person’s “world view” and how they react to situations
  • Stress and stressful life events
  • Medical conditions such as thyroid imbalances, nutritional deficiencies, infections, and degenerative neurological conditions

Some eye-opening statistics from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI):

  • 6.9% (16 million) American adults live with major depression.
  • 2.6% (6.1 million) American adults live with bipolar disorder.

According to the CDC, depression is also associated with an increased risk for mortality, lower workplace productivity and increased absenteeism, and a higher risk for other mental health conditions. The annual economic burden of depression was estimated to be $210.5 in 2010.

For all of these reasons and more, clinical research is critical to improving the prevention, treatment, and eventual cure of depressive illnesses. Meridien Research is conducting several research studies at our locations. For more information or to see if you or someone you know may qualify to participate, please contact us today at 1-888-777-8839.