It’s not always easy to figure out what mental health condition you have, even after being diagnosed. Sometimes questions pop up after a diagnosis or new symptoms appear that may give you pause. One of the mental health conditions most questioned is bipolar disorder because it seems to contain a lot of symptoms that can overlap with other disorders, especially depression.
Bipolar disorder is characterized broadly by experiencing cycles of depression and mania. Depression symptoms can be so deep that it seems insurmountable and the mania symptoms can be so extreme that people impulsively take a cross-country trip without packing a thing. But since there’s typically a much smaller swing between the two poles, some people may question if their depression is actually undiagnosed bipolar disorder.
Tracey Marks, an Atlanta-based psychiatrist, is helping people learn the difference between depression and bipolar disorder and how to tell if it’s likely the latter.
In her video, Marks explains that one of the most common markers is that with bipolar disorder, your depression presents between ages 15 and 19, though you may not have a manic or hypomanic episode for years. This can cause people to be misdiagnosed with unipolar depression, otherwise known as major depressive disorder, for years before they’re properly diagnosed with either bipolar 1 or bipolar 2.
“Whereas unipolar depression as we call it, where all you experience is depressive episodes, tends to occur or presents for the first time later in life,” Marks says.
When depression is really bipolar disorder, anti-depressants don’t work or can make things worse, according to Marks. She really helps to put things in layman’s terms to break down what symptoms may actually point to bipolar disorder. You can watch the entire video below.