Skip to content
Bipolar Depression vs Bipolar Disorder - Amend Treatment

Bipolar Depression vs Bipolar Disorder: Similarities and Differences 

Navigating mental illness can be difficult when so many different symptoms overlap. Yet getting to the root cause is so important for successful treatment and improved quality of life.  


Bipolar depression vs. bipolar disorder tells us of two intermingled, though distinct, conditions. Let’s take a look at the similarities and differences of both.  


Understanding Bipolar Disorder 

Sometimes referred to as manic depression, bipolar disorder is a mixture of feelings and emotions that swing from high to low. For some, these ups and downs can be very drastic while others may experience more mild symptoms. Nonetheless, bipolar disorder is enough to disrupt daily life.  


Manic episodes include symptoms like:  

  • Feelings of euphoria 
  • Restlessness 
  • High energy  
  • A boost in activity 
  • Grandiose ideas 
  • Unrealistic beliefs 
  • Aggression 
  • Drastic mood swings — especially easy to anger 
  • Increased sex drive 
  • Changes in sleep patterns — usually requiring little sleep 

Mania can last at least 7 days. During this time, the individual may make poor decisions, often engaging in risky behavior. Those who have bipolar disorder don’t often recognize that they have it or that there has been any change in their behavior.  


Keep in mind that while manic episodes are indicative of bipolar disorder, depressive, low episodes also often occur. There may or may not be any calm between the high and low moods. 


Differences in Bipolar Disorder 

When referring to bipolar disorder it is often lumped into the one generic term. However, there are actually three different categories, including:  

Bipolar I

Significant episodes of depression with at least one manic episode. These may or may not alternate.  


Bipolar II

A combination of hypomania (mild mania) and depressive moods – at least one of each for diagnosis.  



Unlike the other two categories, cyclothymia involves cycles of high and low moods which are often not enough to be classified as depression or mania.  


Each client with bipolar disorder tends to come with their own traits that fall into one of the above.  


A Closer Look at Bipolar Depression 

Bipolar depression can look very similar to Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), or clinical depression. It comes with many of the same symptoms and can even last for long periods at times.  


While no one can truly understand the weight of depression unless they experience it first-hand, these symptoms can give you a glimpse.  

  • Feelings of hopelessness, emptiness, and sadness 
  • Irritability 
  • Easily agitated and frustrated 
  • Crying  
  • Lack of interest in things you once enjoyed 
  • Difficulty concentrating 
  • Changes in appetite — not eating or overeating 
  • Lack of energy 
  • Changes in sleep patterns — too much sleep or insomnia 
  • Feelings of guilt and worthlessness 
  • Inability to make decisions 
  • Forgetfulness 
  • Body aches and pains  
  • Thoughts of death or suicid

Many people encounter degrees of these symptoms occasionally, those with depression experience them all at one time for extended periods. Bipolar depression can vary greatly in length, but it has been known to last anywhere from 6 months to a year if untreated.  


Unlike major depression, bipolar depression is usually followed by a major swing in the other direction — the manic or up phase of the disorder.  


Bipolar Depression vs Bipolar Disorder: The Similarities  

Bipolar disorder refers to having periods of manic or hypomanic behavior. It also comes with extensive periods of depression, too. Therefore, bipolar depression is part of bipolar disorder. It may vary in degree, but it is always present.  


Bipolar depression and bipolar disorder could also put you at a greater risk of things like substance abuse, migraines, heart disease, and other mental health conditions such as anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).  


There are similarities found when it comes to treatment — especially since it must be sought for both to yield the most rewarding results. Most mental health professionals will recommend a combination of psychotherapy and medication as part of the treatment plan for each.  


Bipolar Depression vs Bipolar Disorder: The Differences 

Despite their intermingled relationship, bipolar depression couldn’t be more drastically different than manic or hypomanic episodes. A glimpse at the symptoms above shows just how much each one differs from the other.  


Bipolar depression vs. bipolar disorder. Let’s break down a few differences for clarity.   

  • Loss of energy vs. excess energy 
  • Feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness vs. grandiose feelings 
  • Lack of interest in wanting to do anything vs. wanting (and trying) to do everything 
  • Lack of confidence vs. feeling over-confident 

There is a large swing in emotions when going from one episode to the next.  


Are bipolar depression and depression different? Mental health professionals must pay attention to the client to determine whether they are dealing with major depression or a depressive episode. This is so important when it comes to treatment, as you cannot treat bipolar with antidepressants alone. In fact, doing so can be dangerous.  


Finally, bipolar depression will come in two cycles — manic and depressive. Major depression only comes with one — depression.  


Risk Factors for Bipolar Disorder 

Although there is no known cause of bipolar disorder and depression, there are a few factors that may increase the risk of developing the illness.  

  • Genetics 
  • High-stress levels 
  • Experiencing a traumatic event – including childhood trauma 
  • Substance abuse 
  • Gender – women are more likely to experience noticeable changes in episodes 

It is important to note that even those who don’t have any of these risk factors may still find themselves diagnosed with bipolar disorder and depression. 


Getting Help at Amend Treatment  

The similarities and differences of bipolar depression vs. bipolar disorder don’t matter much at Amend Treatment because we look at each client uniquely and personalize our treatment programs to meet their needs.  


Bipolar disorder as a whole can greatly impact one’s ability to fully enjoy and thrive in life. That’s why we take steps to fully immerse our clients in a therapeutic experience. This includes a stay at one of our luxurious residential facilities, access to various treatment modalities, the availability of medication, cognitive therapy, talk therapy, and more. Together, they will help control your symptoms and improve your overall quality of life.  


Contact us today to learn more.

Learn More About Our Depression Treatment ServicesLearn More About Our Bipolar Treatment Services
Skip to content