I’ve been reading some articles online about the symptoms of Bipolar Disorder and Depression and I’m a bit confused about what it is that I might have. I have been trying very hard not to self-diagnose or to even self-impose these symptoms on me, but I do feel as if I may be suffering from Bipolar or Depression.
I’ve been cycling through very severe depression every month or so, with ongoing, less severe depression, throughout the odd months. When the severe moments hit I become increasingly lethargic and suicidal and I self-harm. Also, I’ve been attributing my not being able to focus to a vision problem I’ve had since school but now I’m starting to think that this is potentially a symptom of my problems?
In any case, I think that it may be hereditary as depression runs in my family and so does bipolar. It’s been progressively getting worse and I am afraid that I will do something drastic, which the logic part of my says that I shouldn’t.
Am I depressed or bipolar or potentially something else? Should I seek medical help and what should I do if my insurance is not favorable?
Thanks in advance.
- Dr. Schwartz responds to questions about psychotherapy and mental health problems, from the perspective of his training in clinical psychology.
- Dr. Schwartz intends his responses to provide general educational information to the readership of this website; answers should not be understood to be specific advice intended for any particular individual(s).
- Questions submitted to this column are not guaranteed to receive responses.
- No correspondence takes place.
- No ongoing relationship of any sort (including but not limited to any form of professional relationship) is implied or offered by Dr. Schwartz to people submitting questions.
- Dr. Schwartz, Mental Help Net and CenterSite, LLC make no warranties, express or implied, about the information presented in this column. Dr. Schwartz and Mental Help Net disclaim any and all merchantability or warranty of fitness for a particular purpose or liability in connection with the use or misuse of this service.
- Always consult with your psychotherapist, physician, or psychiatrist first before changing any aspect of your treatment regimen. Do not stop your medication or change the dose of your medication without first consulting with your physician.
Bipolar Disorder is one of the mood disorders. It is characterized by the fact that there are mood cycles from severely depressed to manic. The depression that accompanies Bipolar Disorder is such that the patient cannot get out of bed in the morning and is having active suicidal thoughts. On the other hand, once in the manic stage of the illness, the patient feels like they are the most powerful person in the world, capable of great feats of all types. The trouble is that, once mania sets in they are unrealistic and if they try those feats they can injure or kill themselves.
Among the feats under a manic phase of this illness are staying up all night and never sleeping, gambling, going on shopping binges and engaging in alcohol and drug binges, among other things.
Whether in the manic phase or depressive stage of Bipolar Disorder, the individual is in a world where their thinking is quite unrealistic. In some cases, a Bipolar patient can even have delusional thoughts and hallucinations.
While Major Depression shares some features in common with Bipolar Depression there are also differences. Major Depression occurs without a manic phase. The duration of Major Depression can be for a minimum of six months and more.
Whether it’s Bipolar Disorder or Major Depression there is the danger of suicide because people feel hopeless and helpless.
It’s never possible to diagnose someone over the Internet. Based on your description, it is fairly safe to say that you have some type of depression. Whether it falls into the category of Major Depression, Dysthymia or Bipolar Disorder, there is no way I could say.
There is little doubt that you should consult a psychiatrist or psychologist about this. If your health insurance will not pay, you could always get help from your primary care physician. However, most health insurance plans do provide at least a minimum amount of psychiatric care. You could be referred to psychiatrist or psychologist who is on your insurance plan.