Do You Wonder If You May Be Experiencing Depression Or Have Bipolar Disorder?
Have you been feeling hopeless, unmotivated, physically and emotionally exhausted or like life has no point or purpose? Are you totally overwhelmed by thoughts about the future and can’t seem to get excited about trying anything new or even the things you used to love? Have you been beating yourself up for not being the person you used to be and fear that you’ll feel this heaviness and sadness for the rest of your life? Are you struggling with relationships because of a lack of follow-through, breaking commitments, or increased isolation? Do you sometimes feel like you’re missing out on life and want to experience joy and happiness, but just don’t know how to get there?
People experience different degrees of depression along with a wide spectrum of feelings and challenges functioning. You may be experiencing situational depression, which can be caused by a difficult loss, transition or event. Life continually brings us challenging situations that can cause sadness, but if your sadness and sense of hopelessness don’t lift, you may be clinically depressed. Depression can also be chronic – or ongoing. You may be able to function, but unable to feel sustained happiness, struggle to get out of bed, experience prolonged crying spells, or perpetually beat yourself up emotionally. If your depression is chronic, you’ve likely been experiencing ongoing bouts of hopelessness and limited joy for some time.
People with bipolar disorder experience depression symptoms with intermittent episodes of increased energy, not sleeping, behaving impulsively, and feeling euphoric. If you’re vacillating between feelings of hopelessness and agitated mood, you may have some form of bipolar disorder.
Regardless of form, degree or intensity, living with depression or bipolar disorder is hard. It can affect relationships, your ability to function well in work or at school, and make small tasks feel like insurmountable obstacles. You may be eating and sleeping too much or not enough, feeling heightened anxiety, not taking care of your physical and emotional needs, and generally feeling like life is overwhelming. While everyone experiences times when they just don’t feel like their normal selves, if you’ve been really down for quite some time and your sense of sadness and hopelessness has begun interfering with most or all aspects of your life, you may be experiencing a mood disorder and need help.
Many Young Adults Struggle With Some Level Of Depression
Depression is far more common that you may think. The World Health Organization lists depression as the leading cause of disability worldwide. But, most people don’t talk about their depression the same way they would discuss asthma, diabetes or another health condition. Depression is a quiet, lonely and isolating disorder.
Making the transition from teenager to young adult can be a challenge for many. It’s not uncommon to struggle with the loss of structure that high school, your parent’s home, or even college provided. Experiencing ups and downs as you try to figure out who you are, how you fit into the world, and what you want to do with the rest of your life is hard and a very normal part of development. However, if your mood is consistently far more down than up and has affected your ability to function well for a significant period of time, you may be experiencing clinical depression. If you think you may be depressed, a highly trained and experienced BPS therapist can help determine if your behaviors and feelings indicate more than just a normal transitional struggle. If so, getting expert help can be critically important.
Therapy Can Help You Effectively Manage Your Depression
With the right therapist – someone who is experienced and specifically trained to work with young adults struggling with depression or bipolar disorder – therapy can be tremendously effective.
Most people who suffer from depression have developed negative thinking patterns. Your BPS therapist can provide you with a safe and nonjudgmental space and the support you need as you work through your negative thoughts and patterns and take steps toward feeling and functioning better. With help, you can retrain your brain to think more realistically and positively about yourself and your life situation. Your BPS therapist can help you see the good parts of yourself and identify and build on your strengths. Your therapist can also help you put challenges into perspective by helping you realize that most, if not all, of your challenges are not as overwhelming as you may now think.
Your BPS therapist can also help you learn how to ask for help, develop practical and healthy ways to cope, and encourage you to get back into a routine that feels good to you. You can start with small, easy-to-attain steps and work incrementally toward feeling good again. Therapy is a work-in-progress and your BPS therapist will meet you where you are emotionally and set a pace that works for you.
It is very possible to learn how to manage your depression and feel better. And, you don’t have to do it alone. Your BPS therapist understands the challenges that come with depression and bipolar disorder, and can support, validate and guide you as you work through painful feelings and begin feeling better. There are also so many longstanding and new advances in treatment for depression and bipolar disorder, which have been proven very effective. With the right therapist and appropriate treatment, you don’t have to continue to struggle. You can feel better and find more joy in your life.
But, you still may have questions or concerns…
I’m afraid that I will be diagnosed with a mood disorder and that medication will be prescribed.
First, medication is not the only route to treating depression and in no way will medication be pushed on you. Ultimately, the decision is up to you. The idea is to start with therapy and see how it goes. Many young adults have undergone therapy for depression and felt much better without any need for medication.
Your BPS therapist will assess if you are experiencing situational depression (caused by a specific event) or a more pervasive (ongoing) form of depression. If the depression is situational, it is highly likely that it can be treated without the use of medication. If it is pervasive, it is also possible for you to learn how to manage depression without medication. Many people with a pervasive form of depression have successfully figured out how to work through depression symptoms in therapy alone.
In the case that all other approaches and strategies are not working, your BPS therapist may suggest that you meet with a psychiatrist. There are biochemical factors that contribute to bipolar disorder and some forms depression, which medication can significantly help with. If medication is prescribed, your BPS psychiatrist will work closely with you and your therapist in order to monitor medication and ensure that you are making progress.
Experience shows us that many people experience the best results when taking the right medication and dosage while working with a trained and experienced therapist with whom they can relate. Medication can help take the edge off depression and bipolar symptoms. And, therapy can help you explore imbedded negative thoughts and patterns and make positive changes to the thinking patterns and behaviors that are not serving you well.
I’ve tried everything already and nothing helps.
While you have tried many things and still don’t feel better, there may be ways to feel better that you don’t even know exist. And, there may be value in the things that you have tried – they just may need to be tweaked in order to really work for you and your specific needs, personality, and life situation.
Your BPS therapist can help you set a goal of feeling better and be there with you as you work toward reaching that goal and resuming your life. If your depression is keeping you from really living your life now, isn’t trying something new worth a chance? You may discover some new skills that can help you enjoy life again – maybe even more fully than ever.
I think that therapy could be helpful, but I’m concerned about costs.
This is your life and wellbeing. Addressing your depression or bipolar disorder now can prevent a host of problems that may occur if you allow your symptoms to go untreated. Investing in your self now may not only address your symptoms, but also prevent you from developing coping mechanisms or self-medicating. Untreated depression can also lead to health issues, severely impact your ability to engage in relationships, and limit productivity at work or school.
Many people come to BPS having worked with other therapists who were not trained to work specifically with young adults struggling with depression or bipolar disorder or who they couldn’t relate with – which is a waste of time and money. At BPS, we’ll conduct a referral assessment and match you with a therapist who is trained and experienced to treat young adults with depression or bipolar disorder and whose personality is a good match for you. Once you find that good match, making a commitment to yourself may be one of the most valuable investments there is. Imagine getting your life on track and feeling and functioning better on a regular basis and ask yourself what that’s worth.
If money still is an issue, you can talk with your BPS therapist to see if they work on a sliding scale. They may also be able to help you find other lower cost resources in the community.
We encourage you to schedule a referral assessment with a BPS therapist, trained by BPS Director, Dr. Jan Hittelman. We will work with you to determine what your specific issues are, if additional psychological testing is warranted, and ensure a good match between you a BPS therapist in terms of personality, style and expertise.
You can also check out our free, online therapist directory, which will match you and with a therapist who has expertise working with young adults with depression or bipolar disorder.