The more you know about bipolar disorder, especially the depressive side of it, the better you may be able to support a loved one with it, or to deal with it if you have it yourself.

Bipolar depression is not like the major depression that many people are diagnosed with.  It is one-half the diagnosis of bipolar disorder (the other half being mania).  Unlike regular sadness or loss, bipolar depression won't go away as easily.

Bipolar depression is more persistent than regular depression and can significantly interfere with your (or your loved one's) thoughts, activity and even your physical health.  If it's not under control, it can even interfere with your ability to perform normal, day-to-day functions.

According to an article published on the website, most people with bipolar disorder experience depressive episodes three times more often than manic episodes.[1]

"When people think about bipolar disorder they tend to forget how debilitating the depressive episodes of the disease can be," explains Janet Taylor, M.D., MPH, clinical instructor of psychiatry at Columbia University-affiliated Harlem Hospital. "For people with this problem, managing the depressive symptoms, such as prolonged periods of sadness and loss of energy, may require ongoing support from a medical professional as well as family and friends."

If you think you are experiencing a bipolar depression, seeking treatment is the most important thing.

If you haven't yet been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, seek the help of a medical or mental health professional for diagnosis.

If you have been diagnosed and are experiencing the symptoms of a bipolar depressive episode, call your doctor or psychiatrist for help.  It could be that your medications are not working properly, or that you need a medication adjustment.

If it is something more serious, your doctor or psychiatrist will know what to do.

The main thing is, it is important for you to get help as soon as possible.