Depression & Bipolar

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What are depression and bipolar disorder?

Depression and bipolar may stem from a variety of factors, but it’s thought that chemical imbalances in the brain cause these types of mood disorders. These imbalances may be genetic or run in families, or may be caused by stressful life events or overwhelming emotional or physical distress.

Women are twice as likely as men to experience depression, and having a brother, sister, or parent that has depression or bipolar will increase someone’s risk for developing symptoms when exposed to the normal stresses of life (job loss, death of a loved one, financial stress, divorce, etc).

Left untreated, symptoms from depression and bipolar may worsen or lead to other problems such as anxiety, strained interpersonal relationships, decreased work or school performance, eating disorders, and even drug or alcohol abuse.

What are the symptoms of depression?

A person diagnosed with depression experiences two or more weeks of sadness, hopelessness or irritability, loss of energy, feelings of worthlessness, poor concentration, physical pain, feelings of guilt or shame, decreased social interest, decreased enjoyment in activities, and even crying spells or thoughts of death or suicide. Those with depression also experience changes in sleep patterns, such as sleeping too much, having insomnia, or maybe just experiencing restless sleep. Changes in appetite are also typical of depressed individuals, as many people who experience depression have little to no appetite or overeat as a way to cope with their sadness and hopelessness.

What are the symptoms of bipolar?

Those diagnosed with bipolar experience dramatic and unpredictable mood swings that include episodes of both depression and mania. Symptoms of mania include excessive happiness, excitement, irritability, restlessness, rapid or increased talkativeness, increased energy, decreased need for sleep, racing thoughts, distractability, increased periods of productivity, inflated self-esteem, impulsive or reckless behaviors, and increased sex drive or risk-taking behaviors.

Occasionally, severe depression or manic episodes can cause psychotic symptoms that are characterized by detachment from reality or confusion. This can cause a person to develop false but strongly held beliefs (delusions), and hearing or seeing things that aren’t there (hallucinations).

What is treatment for depression and/or bipolar like?

Research shows that those experiencing symptoms of depression or bipolar benefit from a combination of both medication and psychotherapy. However, this does not mean that everyone needs to take medication to improve their symptoms. Although this can be discussed further in your sessions with one of our therapists, you will be able to see improvement in your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and behaviors if you take an active role in the therapy process.  Additionally, to get the most out of the therapeutic process, we recommend that our clients engage in regular self-care and have ongoing support from friends or family.

Our therapy practice uses a combination of cognitive, experiential, humanistic, and psychodynamic therapies to get to the core issue of what is causing and perpetuating your symptoms, and you will need to be an active participant in this process.  In particular, we utilize EMDR, Brainspotting, Somatic Experiencing, the NeuroAffective Relational Model, or Hypnotherapy to clear the effects of certain traumatic experiences that may be at the root cause of your depression and bipolar symptoms. 

For mood disorders that include depressive or bipolar symptoms, the best type of therapy will help a client learn about their triggers and what has been successful for them in the past.  Additionally, when one is working with one of our therapists they will also learn to build up their coping skills, self-confidence, and resilience to future stressful situations. If there are specific incidents from the past that are keeping a person stuck, we may use EMDR, Brainspotting, or Somatic Experiencing to process those, while also exploring problematic ways of thinking and behaving that have led someone to feel stuck or hopeless. Lastly, comprehensive therapy will provide our clients with a set of techniques and skills that will allow them to enjoy their life again.

If you suffer from symptoms of depression and/or bipolar, please reach out to us!