Docs Tag: bipolar

Mood Disorders: Depression and Bipolar

Mood disorders are conditions that cause people to feel intense, prolonged emotions that negatively affect their mental well-being, physical health, relationships and behaviour.


Depression is a mental illness that affects the way a person feels. Mood impacts the way people think about themselves, relate to others, and interact with the world around them. This is more than a ‘bad day’ or ‘feeling blue.’ Without supports like treatment, depression can last for a long time. People can lose interest in things they used to enjoy and may withdraw from others. Depression can make it hard to focus on tasks and remember information. It can be hard to concentrate, learn new things, or make decisions. Depression can change the way people eat and sleep, and many people experience physical health problems.

Signs of depression include feeling:

  • Sad
  • Worthless
  • Hopeless
  • Guilty
  • Anxious
  • Irritable
  • Angry


With bipolar disorder, people experience episodes of depression and episodes of mania. An episode of depression in bipolar disorder is the same as other types of depression. Mania is an unusually high mood for the person. People may feel like their thoughts are racing. They may feel unrealistically confident, happy, or very powerful. Many people don’t sleep much when they experience mania. They may act without thinking and do risky things they wouldn’t normally do.

People usually experience periods of wellness between episodes of depression or mania. The length, frequency, and type of episode can vary greatly. For example, some people experience many episodes of depression with only a few episodes of mania. Others experience long periods of wellness with only a few episodes during their lifetime.


Anyone. They are likely caused by many different factors that work together, including family history, biology, the environment, life experiences, personality and physical health problems.


Depression and bipolar disorder are real illnesses that can be very challenging, but people can and do recover.

Counselling and support
A type of counselling called cognitive-behavioural therapy (or ‘CBT’) is common for mood disorders. It teaches you how your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours work together. It also teaches important skills like solving problems, managing stress, realistic thinking, and relaxation.

Support groups are also very important. Depression and bipolar disorder can be isolating. Support groups are a safe place to share your experiences, learn from others, and connect with people who understand what you’re going through.

Taking care of your well-being is especially important if you’re working through recovery, but this can be easy to overlook. Regular exercise can boost your mood and help you manage stress. Eating well and learning or maintaining healthy sleep habits are also very helpful. It’s always important to spend time on activities you enjoy, find relaxation strategies that work for you, and spend time with loved ones.

Antidepressants are the main kind of medication used to treat depression. There are many different classes and types of antidepressants, and they each work a little differently. However, antidepressants may not be the best option for bipolar disorder. Instead, bipolar disorder may be treated with mood stabilizers. Most people use a combination of medication and counselling.

Relapse prevention
A big part of recovery is learning to recognize relapse. A relapse is when symptoms come back. Seeking help as early as possible can do a lot to reduce problems or challenges.


You can offer support in different ways: you can offer emotional support or practical support to help make the journey less daunting. You can also help a loved one watch for signs of relapse or other difficulties, which is an important part in maintaining wellness.

People who experience an episode of depression may have thoughts of ending their life. This is a sign that a loved one needs extra support. If you believe that a loved one is in danger, don’t hesitate to call 911 or your local crisis line.

Here are some tips for supporting someone you love:

  • Learn more about the illness and listen to your loved one so you have a better understanding of their experiences.
  • Someone who experiences an episode of depression may want to spend time alone or act out in frustration, and this can hurt other people’s feelings. These are just symptoms—it isn’t about you.
  • Ask your loved one how you can help. Think about practical help with day-to-day tasks, too.
  • Make sure your expectations are realistic. Recovery takes time and effort. It means a lot when you recognize your loved one’s work towards wellness, regardless of the outcome.
  • Make your own boundaries, and talk about behaviour you aren’t willing to deal with.
  • Seek support for yourself and think about joining a support group for loved ones. If family members are affected by a loved one’s illness, consider family counselling.