Despite my own depression and experiences with anxiety and panic over the years, my knowledge of bipolar disorder was very limited. I knew about bipolar disorder and knew about the mood severities associated with it. But, it wasn’t until two years ago, when Catherine Zeta-Jones came out to the public about her battle with bipolar 2 that I even knew there was a bipolar TWO.
I began my search on the internet, looking for anything that might help me explain my “dips” into short bouts of depression. Along with several excellent bipolar articles on the HealthyPlace.com website, I read a really good book called Why Am I Still Depressed? Recognizing and Managing the Ups and Downs of Bipolar II and Soft Bipolar Disorder, by Jim Phelps. It really resonated with me in relation to my mood dips. It gave me pause until I finally asked myself the question:
Am I Bipolar or Am I Just Depressed?
Among other things I learned from the book, I now understand that some antidepressants can bring on bipolar-like symptoms. Had I been misdiagnosed? Was I on the wrong medication?
I took my concerns to my regular physician. She asked me what I’m sure are the typical questions to validate a bipolar 2 diagnosis. My “depressed” days more or less followed the recipe but my hypomania didn’t fit the bill. My physician respected my concerns enough to refer me to a psychiatrist. He asked me almost exactly the same questions and came to the same conclusion; the “up” side of my depression dips were not hypomanic enough for a bipolar 2 disorder.
My psychiatrist said I had unipolar depression and showed me diagrams similar to this to describe the mood swings associated with BP1, BP2 and unipolar depression. (Read: Differences Between Unipolar Depression and Bipolar Depression)
I imagine that I’m not alone in the grey zone of depression, having some of the symptoms of condition A with some of the symptoms of condition B, with a dash of condition C thrown in for good measure.
Whether it’s depression or bipolar, living and coping with depression is a lifelong challenge.