Most everyone has experienced some form of depression in their lives at one time or another. This period can be induced by stress, loneliness, or any one of several factors. It is when these feelings last for more than two consecutive weeks that this can become a major problem (“Depression,” 2006). Another similarly crippling mental issue, is known as bipolar disorder. In generalized occurrence, this term refers to bouts of “mania” coinciding with simultaneous incidences of extreme depression (Greil, 1999). As with anything, correlation does not represent causation, meaning that just because these two psychological issues are in fact related, to a certain extent, depression is not necessarily the cause of bipolar disorder. My intent, through research and critical analysis, is to come to a realization and share a newfound understanding of exactly how these two problems correlate.
Depression in and of itself, is not a contagious illness, however, it can run in families. Direct causes are unclear, although, if one experiences hormonal change, suffers a traumatic event, or abuses any substance, these alterations in body chemistry, can bring on a depressive state (“Depression,” 2006). The good news is, it is treatable. It involves an imbalance of brain chemicals, which are called neurotransmitters. An important fact to remember is, being diagnosed with depression does not signify a character flaw, or an indication of personal weakness (“Depression,” 2006). Only a health professional can positively determine whether the symptoms a person is having derive from depression. It is crucial that an individual consult their physician and be honest about all of their symptoms. The physical evaluation should include a complete exam since some other illnesses could be the reason for the feelings of worthlessness, loss of energy, changes in appetite or sleep patterns, prolonged sadness, unexplained aches and pains, and social withdrawal, which are all possible indications of depression.
There is often times another key obstacle that stands in the way of mental health wellness. It can easily be missed in diagnosis and may play a role in the negativity persisting. The majority of people who are identified as having depression or bipolar disorder are also experiencing symptoms of anxiety. “A survey conducted by the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance shows that both patients and physicians are not fully aware of the correlation between anxiety symptoms and other mood disorders, specifically depression and bipolar disorder” (Clayton, 2005). The severity of anxiety presence with either of these issues is highly underestimated. Anxiety disorders can materialize in the form of any specific phobia, generalized anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, or post-traumatic stress (Clayton, 2005). In America alone, more than 19 million people suffer from some type of anxiety (Clayton, 2005).
Bipolar disorder has ruined many lives. Artists, musicians, and writers experience mood swings and tend to romanticize the illness, which is very serious and comes with an increased risk of suicide (Genetics Workgroup, 2006). More than two and a half percent of America is affected by this debilitating illness. Typically, it emerges in adolescence or early adulthood, but can also appear in childhood. It is defined as cycles or episodes of mania and then depression. More and more frequently, the separate states converge into a manic and depressive or “mixed” experience (Genetics Workgroup, 2006).
Symptoms of the depressive state include a persistent sad mood, loss of interest and pleasure in once enjoyed activities, insomnia or constant desire to sleep, lethargy and agitation, along with inappropriate feelings of guilt and worthlessness (Clayton, 2005). Mania is described as an abnormally elevated mood, overly-inflated self-esteem, sleeplessness, increased talkativeness, racing thoughts,