Bipolar disorder – known in the past as manic depression – is a condition that affects your moods, which can swing from one extreme to another. If you have bipolar disorder, you will have periods or "episodes" of:
- Depression – where you feel very low and lethargic
- Mania – where you feel very high and overactive (less severe mania is known as hypomania)
The symptoms of bipolar disorder depend on which mood you are experiencing. Unlike simple mood swings, each extreme episode of bipolar disorder can last for several weeks or longer, and some people may not experience a "normal" mood very often.
We often use the expression "I'm feeling depressed" when we're feeling sad or miserable about life. Usually, these feelings pass in due course. But if the feelings are interfering with your life and don't go away after a couple of weeks, or if they come back, over and over again, for a few days at a time, it could be a sign that you're depressed in the medical sense of the term.
In its mildest form, depression can mean just being in low spirits. It doesn’t stop you leading your normal life, but makes everything harder to do and seem less worthwhile. At its most severe, major depression (clinical depression) can be life-threatening, because it can make people suicidal or simply give up the will to live.
Depression is seen by some experts as a form of unfinished mourning. Often events or experiences that trigger depression can also be seen as a loss of some kind. It could be following the actual death of someone close, a major life change (such as moving house or changing jobs) or simply moving from one phase of life into another, as we reach retirement or our children leave home.
It’s not just the negative experience that causes the depression, but how we deal with it. If the feelings provoked are not expressed or explored at the time, they fester and contribute towards depression. It's important to acknowledge and grieve over what we have lost in order to be able to move on successfully.
You've just had a baby, one of the most important and happiest events in your life. "What could make a woman happier than a new baby?" you wonder. So why are you so sad? We don't know for sure, but you are not alone. As many as 80% of women experience some mood disturbances after pregnancy ("post-natal"). They feel upset, alone, afraid, or unloving toward their baby, and guilt for having these feelings.
For most women, the symptoms are mild and go away on their own. But 10-20% of women develop a more disabling form of mood disorder called post-natal depression. The "baby blues" are usually a passing state of heightened emotions that occurs in about half of women who have recently given birth. This state peaks 3-5 days after delivery and lasts from several days to 2 weeks. A woman with the blues may cry more easily than usual and may have trouble sleeping or feel irritable, sad, and "on edge" emotionally. Because baby blues are so common and expected, they are not considered an illness.
Disclaimer: Counselling or Psychotherapy Treatments are not a substitute for professional medical care by a qualified doctor or other health care professional. Always check with your doctor if you have any concerns about your condition or treatment. Clients are responsible for assessing the outcome of their treatment and are advised to refer to NICE guidelines for further information.