Is It Really Depression?
Symptoms of depression, anxiety disorder and bipolar disorder have similarities -- but require different treatments.
Antidepressant Not Always Best continued...
Under those circumstances, an antidepressant is often prescribed - yet that
may or may not be the right choice. "Antidepressants are used to treat both
anxiety disorders and depression. However, someone with bipolar disorder needs
a different set of drugs -- a mood stabilizer and
antimanic medication," Fagiolini tells WebMD. There are several types of
mood-stabilizing drugs, which include medications like lithium and
anticonvulsive drugs such as Depakote or Lamictal.
The danger: "Giving an antidepressant to someone with bipolar disorder could
trigger a manic episode," he explains. "Manic episodes can be dangerous,
because you have very poor judgment, tend to use more drugs, drive recklessly,
spend a lot of money, have much more sex - and have it completely unprotected.
There's a higher risk of high-risk behaviors because there is poor
Treating a Mood Disorder Takes Time
What's most important, psychiatrists say, is to recognize that something is
wrong. Then see a doctor regularly.
"It's a good sign if your doctor wants to see you more than once before
prescribing something," says Goodstein. "It's better if your doctor wants to
see you regularly, rather than prescribe the medication and say, 'check back
with me in six months.'"
Because bipolar disorder is condition that is ongoing but not always
evident, the National Institute of Mental Health recommends
long-term preventive treatment. The institute notes that a combination of
medication and psychotherapy works best to keep the disorder under control over
With most people, "things are more complicated than they seem on the first
visit," Goodstein tells WebMD. "Almost always, there's something more going on,
and a doctor just can't know all that in one visit. It's erroneous if they
think they can."
It's important to get treated for any mood disorder, because it can affect
your own quality of life -- as well as the people around you, Goodstein adds.
When you're depressed -- for any reason -- "You don't care about yourself. You
don't care about those around you. And often, you don't have the motivation to
get help because you feel hopeless," he says. "You might think there's no way
to solve your problems. But that's not true. We can treat your depression, so
you'll be better able to find solutions to your problems."