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Major Depressive Disorder
Bipolar Disorder (Manic Depression)

Feeling down from time to time is a normal part of life. But when feeling down lasts more than two weeks and you begin to feel despair or numbness, depression may be a concern. The lows of depression make it difficult to function and enjoy life like you once did. Depression causes you to lack meaning and purpose in your life as you isolate yourself from those around you. You may feel stuck, not being able to lift yourself up by your bootstraps. You are not alone.

Depression is very common in the US. In fact, research has found that 20 to 25% (over 70 million) of the people in the US have suffered from an episode of major depression at some point in their life. At any one time, 10% (over 28 million) of the population is suffering from major depression. Major depression affects men, women, children and people of all races. Depression is not a sign of weakness, but rather how your body responds to internal and external stressors. It is real, and you can be helped.

Depression is classified in two main types: depressive disorders, characterized by one or more period of major depression; and bipolar disorder, once called manic-depression, which includes at least one period of extreme emotional highs, or mania, and one or more periods of major depression.

Depressive Disorders

If you are experiencing depression, you may be feeling some or all of the following for at least two weeks:

• You feel miserable or sad most of the time.
• You feel like there is little hope of feeling better.
• You chronically feel like life has no meaning.
• Activities that you used to like ( for example, hobbies, social activities, relationships, sex) have lost their appeal to_you.
• There has been a significant change in your weight, more than 5% change in your weight in a month. You may have to force yourself to eat, or it may seem like your appetite is out of control and you can't satisfy your hunger.
• You find that you are sleeping more than 10 hours a day (hypersomnia) or that you can't get to sleep or stay asleep during the night (insomnia).
• It is hard for you to do anything because you feel physically drained, to the point where even simple tasks are exhausting.
• You are chronically critical of what you do or how you look, to the point you feel worthless or guilty most of the time.
• You can remember mistakes you made a long time ago and still feel ashamed and guilty about them.
• It is hard to concentrate at work and you have difficulty making decisions or feeling good about the ones you make.
• It is hard for you to remember information or names that you should know. You may not trust your memory.
• You feel anxious or worry too much.
• You feel sluggish and slow or fidgety and anxious.
• Little things frustrate you, or you are grouchy most of the time.
• Thoughts of wanting to hurt or kill yourself frequently go through your mind. You may or may not, be tempted to act on those thoughts.
• You may physically hurt (headaches, backaches, aching joints, body aches).
• You may have gone through a significant trauma or recent loss (for example, death of someone close to you, divorce, fired from job, or legal problems).
• You may also wonder why you feel so bad, since your life is OK or even good.

If you are experiencing five or more of these symptoms, you may be depressed and may need to seek help from a psychologist or therapist. Research indicates the best treatment for Depression involves a combination of medication and therapy. There is hope. (top)


Dysthymia is a low grade, long term, depression. When depression lasts more than two years, it is likely considered Dysthymia. Treatment is similar, in that a combination of medication and therapy is considered best.

Bipolar Disorder (Manic Depression)

Diagnosed mania or a manic episode includes a mood that is elevated, expansive (high and mighty), or irritable. It must be different from one's normal personality. The change must be intense, and must last for a considerable period of time. The mood may appear grandiose, irritated, or angry, and the person may become arrogant and belligerent. Manic symptoms include:

• Elevated, expansive, or irritable mood, for at least a week
• Self Esteem is too high or grandiose
• Less sleep or need for less sleep
• More talkative than usual, or pressure to talk
• Racing Thoughts
• Easily Distracted
• Increase in goal-directed activity, or physical agitation
• Impulsive behavior that is potentially harmful (spending, sex, investments...)

In addition to some of these symptoms, for this to be considered a disorder, this mood disturbance must be extreme enough to interfere with work, school, or significant relationships. At times, this disorder is so severe, that hospitalization may be necessary to prevent self-injury or injury to others.

Hypomania is a term used to describe mild mania. Hypomania can be confused with a really good mood. It is important for someone who has dealt with severe mania to learn to recognize hypomania, as it may be the sign of an impending mania. That warning may help with knowing how to take action to prevent the mania from becoming more severe. Sometimes, a good mood is just a good mood. Yourself, family, and a healthcare professional such as a psychologist or medical doctor, will be helpful in knowing the difference.

Treatment for Bipolar disorder usually involves a combination of medication and therapy. Often, both a Psychologist and Psychiatrist will be involved in one's treatment regimen. While some very effective medications exist for the treatment of Bipolar Disorder, finding the right combination of medication treatment for an individual is sometimes, a lengthy process. A good relationship with a psychologist can help the stress of coping with this disorder and the variance in response to medication. With some help, this disorder is very manageable. It is possible to find peace again. (top)

***As with any psychological disorder, do not consider information found on the internet sufficient in diagnosing or managing your condition. It can be used to find appropriate treatment from a healthcare professional. If in need of help, please call Dr. Austin at 972-986-0150, or if an emergency, always call 911.

Karla Austin, Ph.D.
Licensed Psychologist

1425 W. Pioneer, Ste. 153 Irving, Texas 75061 972-986-0150

Conveniently located in Irving, between Dallas and Fort Worth, and near Coppell, Grand Prairie,
Grapevine, Hurst, Euless, Bedford, Lewisville, Arlington, Keller, Richland Hills, and the DFW Airport.

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