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Bipolar depression

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What is bipolar depression?

Although people may recognize the term "bipolar disorder," they may be a little less familiar with the term "bipolar depression." Bipolar depression refers to the depressive moods, or lows, of bipolar disorder.

In general, episodes of bipolar depression last longer than episodes of bipolar mania, and when ill, people with bipolar disorder experience depressive symptoms at least three times as often as they do manic symptoms.

Bipolar depression symptoms

When you're dealing with the symptoms of bipolar depression, it's easy to feel like you're consumed by the condition or simply fading into the background. That's because for some patients with bipolar disorder, the depressive symptoms, also called bipolar depression, can be more disabling than the manic symptoms.

According to the DSM‐5,* a medical reference commonly used by health care professionals to aid in diagnosis, bipolar depression consists of many of the following symptoms, occurring for at least two weeks:

  • Depressed mood most of the day; feeling sad or empty, tearful
  • Significant loss of interest or pleasure in activities that used to be enjoyable
  • Significant weight loss (when not dieting) or weight gain; decrease or increase in appetite
  • Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Agitation or slowing down of thoughts and reduction in physical movements
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt
  • Poor concentration or having difficulty making decisions
  • Thinking about death or suicide

*Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition

Your health care professional may discuss some or all of the above symptoms with you. It's important to be open with him or her about how you're feeling.

What is the difference between bipolar depression and bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder thought to be caused by chemical imbalances in the brain that can result in extreme swings in mood—from manic highs to depressive lows. The lows are bipolar depression and the highs are bipolar mania.

Bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition that can affect both how you feel and how you act.

Find out more about how SEROQUEL XR can help.

Your doctor can help find a treatment plan that works for you. To help prepare for your next doctor visit, bring along these questions to ask during your appointment.

Living with bipolar depression

Bipolar depression, a part of bipolar disorder, is not as uncommon as you may think

Millions of American adults are affected by bipolar disorder. A diagnosis of bipolar disorder may be overwhelming at first; you may find it helpful to work with your health care provider and use these helpful tools.

  • Bipolar disorder may make it harder to get along with others and have good relationships
  • Divorce rates, for example, are almost 2 to 3 times higher for people with bipolar disorder than for people without it
  • Tips on interacting with family and friends and maintaining relationships
  • Holding down a job, completing an education, taking care of children, and managing money may also be more difficult
  • Bipolar disorder may make drinking too much alcohol or abusing drugs more likely
  • It may cause you to take risks that could cause harm to yourself
  • The depressive symptoms, also called bipolar depression, can be extremely disruptive to a person's life
  • Get regular sleep. Do your best to go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day
  • Eat regular meals and get regular exercise
  • Reduce stress. People with bipolar disorder may find that an episode of depression or mania might start after they have been under more stress than usual
  • Take medication regularly. If your health care professional has prescribed medication for you as part of your treatment plan, be sure to take it at the same time every day. Having a routine may make it easier to remember to take your medication as prescribed
  • Get help for substance abuse, if needed. People with bipolar disorder may be more likely to use and abuse alcohol or other drugs. This can trigger episodes of illness or make your episodes last longer. If you think you may have a problem with drugs or alcohol, talk to your health care professional about options for dealing with these issues
  • Track your progress. You may find it useful to keep a Mood Tracking Diary

Work with your health care professional to develop a plan for managing your bipolar disorder and to follow your treatment plan closely. Here are a few more resources that are designed to assist someone living with bipolar disorder:

  • Helpful tools that may help you gain perspective, track your moods, and work with your health care professional
  • Support and resources from organizations, advocacy groups, and support groups

How can SEROQUEL XR help bipolar depression?

If you are struggling with depressive symptoms of bipolar disorder, help may be available. SEROQUEL XR is approved to treat the depressive lows and manic highs of bipolar disorder. It is approved to work alone to treat 3 types of episodes that may occur in bipolar disorder (depressive lows, manic highs, and mixed episodes of highs and lows), for the short term.

In an 8-week bipolar depression study, overall symptom scores of depression started to improve as early as the first week and continued to improve throughout the study (vs placebo).

Goals of treatment for the depressive lows and manic highs of bipolar disorder include:

  • Reduce symptoms of depressive episodes
  • Reduce symptoms of manic episodes
  • Reduce the likelihood of future episodes/relapse
  • Reduce the severity of the disease
  • Provided assistance and support to patients and family

SEROQUEL XR is an extended‐release tablet, which means medicine is delivered around the clock. Because it is an extended-release medicine, the dose should be taken once a day, 3-4 hours before bedtime.

SEROQUEL XR is also approved for long‐term maintenance treatment of bipolar I disorder when added to lithium or divalproex.

If you are still experiencing depressive episodes, SEROQUEL XR could help you feel more centered.

Your doctor can tell you what kind of improvements and possible side effects you may expect with SEROQUEL XR.

What is bipolar mania?

Bipolar mania is an extremely high mood. During a manic high, people feel unusually great. It's common to be overly talkative, have lots of energy, and need little sleep. Hypomania is a less severe form of mania—but it is no less important to report to your health care professional.

One of the ways you can be sure to get an accurate diagnosis is to talk to your health care professional about all the symptoms you are experiencing or have experienced in the past, including any manic or hypomanic episodes. A manic or hypomanic episode is what separates a diagnosis of depression, also called major depressive disorder, from bipolar disorder.

Bipolar mania symptoms

According to the DSM‐5,* a medical reference commonly used by health care professionals to aid in diagnosis, the symptoms of bipolar mania include:

  • A period of elevated, expansive, or irritable mood for at least 1 week unless hospitalized

Other symptoms are usually present and may include:

  • Beliefs in possessing exaggerated power, importance, knowledge, or ability
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • More talkative than usual; pressure to keep talking
  • Rapidly changing, unrelated, or racing thoughts
  • Easily distracted
  • Driven behavior (at work, at school, or sexually); agitation
  • Risky behavior (eg, excessive spending, foolish business investments)

*Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition

Your health care professional may discuss some or all of the above symptoms with you. It's important to be open with him or her about how you're feeling.

Diagnosis and misdiagnosis

If you think you may have bipolar disorder, you are not alone. Bipolar disorder is estimated to affect millions of American adults each year. Yet for many people with the disease, an accurate diagnosis, and, therefore, finding an appropriate treatment, may take years.

To be diagnosed with bipolar disorder you must have experienced a high period (mania or hypomania). However, most people with bipolar disorder when ill or when symptomatic experience more lows than highs. These lows are known as “bipolar depression.”

Misdiagnosis is common.

Many patients with bipolar disorder initially seek treatment for their depressive symptoms. Unfortunately, the diagnosis of bipolar disorder is oftentimes missed. One of the ways to help get an accurate diagnosis is to talk to your health care professional about all the symptoms you are experiencing, including any manic symptoms or hypomanic symptoms. (Hypomania is a less severe form of mania.)

The symptoms of major depressive disorder, also called depression, are similar to the symptoms of bipolar depression. In a national survey, more than two‐thirds of people with bipolar disorder were originally misdiagnosed with other disorders. And over one‐third of people with bipolar disorder who were originally misdiagnosed waited 10 years or more before receiving an accurate diagnosis.

If you have unresolved depressive symptoms caused by bipolar disorder—or if you think it’s possible you’ve been misdiagnosed with major depressive disorder—be sure to talk to your health care professional about all the symptoms you are experiencing, including any manic or hypomanic episodes.

Your health care professional is trained to make a correct diagnosis based on your symptoms and a careful review of your medical history. If you are struggling with symptoms of bipolar disorder, help may be available. Use these questions to have an open and honest dialogue about your condition and to find out if SEROQUEL XR may be right for you.