Can you have bipolar disorder and depression?
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Have you ever heard of someone having both bipolar disorder and depression? You may be interested to know that many mental health disorders occur comorbidly, meaning the presence of one can suggest that there is likely to be another also occurring. 


You may be more interested to learn that bipolar disorder and depression can’t occur comorbidly — meaning that you can’t be diagnosed with both disorders at the same time. A diagnosis of bipolar disorder “trumps” a diagnosis of depression. Sometimes people start off with a depressive episode, which makes it look like they have a depressive disorder. However, once they experience a manic episode, their diagnosis changes to bipolar disorder. 


Research estimates that about 4.4% of adults in the United States experience bipolar disorder at some point in their lives. Of those who were diagnosed with bipolar disorder, nearly 40% of them were diagnosed with depression first. The symptoms of bipolar disorder and depression can appear very similar or overlap, which can contribute to why so many people are misdiagnosed with depression first. Bipolar disorder can look like depression during depressive episodes, but when a person also experiences manic episodes, it usually becomes clear that they have bipolar disorder. You can learn more about each disorder and how the symptoms overlap by reading the sections below. 


What is bipolar disorder?


Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that is typically characterized by periods or “episodes” of high and low moods. These extreme moods are called manic and depressive episodes. It can significantly affect a person’s ability to perform daily functions and tasks. 


Bipolar disorder is split into three different categories: bipolar 1, bipolar 2 and cyclothymic disorder. They’re distinguished by severity and the frequency in which they cycle. Bipolar disorder usually comes with a set of symptoms that may mirror depression during depressive episodes, but during manic episodes, the symptoms significantly change. 


What is depression?


Depression is a mental health condition that is characterized by a negatively affected mood that can interfere with a person’s ability to function and perform daily activities and tasks. It’s estimated that about 280 million people across the world have depression. Someone who is depressed won’t have manic episodes where they experience symptoms of euphoria, rapid speech and decreased need for sleep. The most common symptoms of depression are:


  • Chronic or persistent sadness
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Lack of sleep or excessive sleeping
  • Suicidal ideations
  • Restlessness or irritability


Is it possible for someone to have both bipolar disorder and depression?


It’s not possible for someone to have both bipolar disorder and depression at the same time. A diagnosis of bipolar disorder trumps a diagnosis of depression. If a person has only depressive episodes, they have major depressive disorder. If a person has depressive episodes and manic episodes, they have bipolar disorder. Here are common symptoms someone might experience during a manic phase:


  • Being easily distracted
  • Sudden exciting ideas or plans
  • Illogical thinking
  • Reckless behavior or speech
  • Lack of sleep
  • Sudden or excessive energy


If you think you may be dealing with bipolar disorder and you’re interested in learning more, you can take our bipolar disorder quiz.


Lightfully can help you whether you have bipolar disorder or depression


Our mission at Lightfully is to work with individuals to change their life compassionately. We strive to provide high-quality mental health care to various types of clients through a focused approach to process-based therapy. The framework of our clinic consists of evidence-based, clearly defined, data-driven and whole-person-centered care.

Lightfully offers multiple levels of care to both adults and teens: Residential Treatment, Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), and Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP), also referred to as our Day Treatment Program. We also offer a Virtual Intensive Outpatient Program (vIOP) for adults.

If you have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder or depression, we’d like to help you. Our therapists are experienced in dealing with a variety of conditions and unique circumstances, including bipolar disorder and depression. If you haven’t been diagnosed with either and think you may be experiencing one of these disorders, you can take our bipolar disorder or depression quizzes before speaking with one of our licensed mental health professionals who can formally diagnose you and who see you as much more than just your diagnosis.

Change is possible. When you’re ready to take the first step, reach out to our Admissions Concierge Team. We’ll take the next steps together, toward the fullest, brightest version of you.

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