Bipolar Jacket

What is a depressive episode?

A depressive episode in bipolar disorder (occurring in both bipolar 1 and bipolar 2) is a period of intense sadness, hopelessness, and loss of interest in activities that a person typically enjoys. It is one of the two main mood states that people with bipolar disorder experience, the other being manic or hypomanic episodes.

During a depressive episode, a person may experience:

  1. Intense sadness and despair: They may feel hopeless, worthless, and overwhelmed by negative emotions.
  2. Loss of interest in activities: They may lose interest in activities that they typically enjoy, including hobbies, socializing, and spending time with loved ones.
  3. Fatigue and loss of energy: They may feel tired all the time, even after getting enough sleep, and may struggle with everyday tasks.
  4. Changes in appetite and sleep: They may experience changes in appetite and sleep patterns, including overeating or loss of appetite, and insomnia or oversleeping.
  5. Difficulty concentrating: They may have difficulty concentrating, making decisions, and remembering things.
  6. Thoughts of self-harm or suicide: They may experience thoughts of self-harm or suicide, and may even make plans to harm themselves.

A depressive episode can be a very difficult and distressing experience for individuals experiencing it and for those around them. It’s important to seek professional help from a mental health provider if you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of depression or bipolar disorder.

The DSM-5 Criteria for a Depressive Episode

According to the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition), a depressive episode is characterized by the presence of five or more of the following symptoms for at least two weeks, and represent a change from previous functioning. One of the symptoms must be either depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure in activities:

  1. Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day
  2. Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in nearly all activities most of the day, nearly every day
  3. Significant weight loss or gain, or significant decrease or increase in appetite
  4. Insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day
  5. Psychomotor agitation or retardation nearly every day
  6. Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day
  7. Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt
  8. Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness nearly every day
  9. Recurrent thoughts of death, recurrent suicidal ideation, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide

These symptoms must cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other areas of functioning, and cannot be due to a medical condition or substance use.