Monthly ArchiveFebruary 2021

Learn about the Three Major Types of Bipolar Depression

Bipolar depression is a mental disorder in which an individual bounces back and forth between depressive episodes and periods of elevated mood or mania. The individual course of the disorder can be quite varied and unpredictable. Bipolar episodes can last only a few days or persist for several months. The episodes can complete several cycles each year, or a single cycle can itself last several years.

Major Types of Bipolar Depression

In parsing out the different types of bipolar depression, it’s often the severity of each mood that is the primary consideration:

  • Type-1 Bipolar (with hypermania): This type involves a more extreme version of mania, sometimes called hypermania, that generally lasts between one week and a few months. For these individuals, the mania is marked by high energy, racing thoughts and speech, an inflated sense of self, reduced need for sleep, and reckless behavior. These individuals may be drawn into goal-oriented activities, but they may also be easily distracted. Moreover, an elevated mood does not guarantee a personable attitude, as the person is also more likely to be irritable.
  • Type-2 Bipolar (with hypomania): This course of bipolar disorder is defined by hypomania. Hypomania has all the same general traits as hypermania, just not as severe. Typically, the severity is determined by looking at the occupational and social disruption that is caused, but there are other factors as well. If the inflated sense of self or other symptoms lead to delusions or other signs of psychosis, for example, it’s automatically considered full-blown mania. Moreover, hypomania may persist for as few as four days but may still last several months.
  • Cyclothymia: This type of bipolar depression is characterized by milder forms of both mania and depression—so mild, in fact, that they fail to meet the criteria for a manic or depressive episode. Yet, the swings between depressed and manic mood are frequent and persistent and cannot be explained by another condition or mental disorder. Individuals will go multiple years without experiencing a period of normal mood that lasts longer than two months.

Partial or Specified Diagnosis

Apart from these major categories of bipolar disorder, there are many ways to describe bipolar symptoms that do not meet the full diagnostic criteria. This may be due to something as simple as an insufficient history: A clinician may be able to flag short-duration mood swings or a manic episode that has not yet been accompanied by a depressive episode. These partial diagnoses frequently meet the full criteria later on but are still crucial for early therapy interventions and better outcomes overall.

Even when a full range of symptoms are present, the diagnosis must first consider whether they’ve been induced by substance use, medications, or a general medical condition. The mental health professional must also evaluate whether a different disorder (depression, ADHD, borderline personality) is a better fit for the presentation of symptoms. For complicated cases, a “rule-out” diagnosis may be noted when it’s not yet possible to distinguish between different disorders.

Get Help with Bipolar Depression in Utah

No matter what type of bipolar depression you may have—or even if your symptoms are not indicative of this mental disorder—it’s critical that you seek help for any serious signs of mental illness. Rather than trying to find answers on your own, work with a qualified mental health provider. This is the only way to know precisely what you’re facing and what treatment plan, if any, is likely to provide mental health benefits.

Art Therapy in Utah: A Collage of Mental Health Resources

The fundamentals of art therapy are much the same as other types of expressive therapies—an artistic medium is used to facilitate the expression of a psychological reality. This may be externalizing negative emotions and past events. It can also be depicting beauty, resilience, or other values that can serve as a buffer against psychological stress–all common themes with art therapy in Utah.

This doesn’t mean that every pretty picture is a perfect reflection of some deep personal truth. The simple act of making a meaningful picture has tremendous potential to lift and/or stabilize one’s mood. And that’s just the beginning of understanding what makes art therapy effective. For those who are struggling with psychological stress, troubling realities have a tendency to bubble up to the surface. For all these reasons, the art therapist, the prompt, and the person’s willingness to respond to that prompt can all be crucial elements for getting positive results.

Art Therapy Settings in Utah

One of the surest ways to parse out the different types of art therapy in Utah is to look at the settings in which the art is created. As well as some of specific therapeutic goals that are trying to be achieved—

  • Most of us were asked as school kids to draw a picture of our family. This school activity can be both therapy and an informal assessment tool. Childhood trauma comes in many different forms, but even generally supportive families may be made stronger by exploring the content of these depictions.
  • Group therapy is the most common mode for art therapy. Creating art with others helps provide affordable access to direct feedback from an art therapist. This includes residential treatment centers as well as intensive outpatient treatment programs, especially drug rehab. But it also includes mental health therapists in Utah who offer weekly or monthly art-inspired group therapy. Some of these classes are designed for specific types of mental health troubles. Others are geared more toward particular mediums and themes.
  • Art therapy can also be a homework assignment from a mental health professional in the context of individual therapy. Direct feedback doesn’t have to be immediate feedback. By responding to an artistic prompt and then bringing the artwork to your next appointment, you get that much more from your mental health therapy.

Art as an Evidence-Based Therapy

Even if it’s sometimes overhyped, neuroscience provides plenty of corroborating evidence for the therapeutic value of artistic expression. Art may be subjective, but expressive therapies stand up well to scientific scrutiny. Especially when it comes to specific mental health troubles. Looking for more research and support for art therapy as an effective mental health treatment? The American Art Therapy Association has a lot of great resources put together from mental health professionals who believe in the healing power of art.

Look at art therapy for post-traumatic stress as an example. The toll of past traumas can disrupt our neurological function to the point where the language center of our brain shuts down when remembering traumatic events or when triggered by specific sensory inputs. Much of the power that trauma holds over us is its namelessness. Moreover, left unchecked, post-traumatic stress robs us of our everyday joys. A rose, by any other name, is just as sweet. But if we can’t give it a name at all, we truly do miss out on much of the flower’s sweetness.

More than just PTSD, anyone who has repeatedly struggled to communicate their psychological stress is likely to benefit from art therapy in one form or another. We encourage you to explore which resource in Utah makes the most sense for you.

Treatment-Resistant Depression: Hope in the Absence of Relief

As those who suffer from it know all too well, treatment-resistant depression is more than just depression that’s a little harder to treat. It’s often years of poor mood and lack of interest that persist despite multiple, concerted efforts to treat the disorder with a combination of psychotherapy, meds, and other treatment protocols.

There is no single story or experience that fits everybody with treatment-resistant depression, but there are some touchstones that are familiar to many of those who struggle with the disorder. In those rare times when individuals do find themselves caring about something, it might be some vague combination of anger and envy that’s felt toward the nearest person, or maybe it’s a resentment of those who have similar symptoms but who quickly and permanently respond to treatment, so-called “wannabe” depressives. But these feelings never last and what most often takes their place is a deeply ingrained sense that one’s life is not worth living.

Good and Bad Kinds of Psychoeducation

One of the first and most common ways in which depression is treated is with psychotherapy that includes a heavy dose of psychoeducation and mindfulness. By meeting with an experienced therapist, a client learns more about how depression acts on the thoughts and feelings of the individual. Obsessively thinking about depression, also known as rumination, can be one of the signs of the disorder. Recognizing the way in which depressed thoughts become obsessive and exploring ways to disrupt this cognitive pattern, also known as mindfulness, is an essential therapy method for a lot of depressed people.

Yet, this particular symptom of the depressed mind also helps explain why psychoeducation may, in some cases, actually deepen the depressed mood in someone with treatment-resistant depression. Once you’ve read about how neurotransmitters no longer seem to be the key to beating depression, once you’ve read about the lack of new neurons being created in the hippocampus, once you’ve read about depression as an insidious, slow-moving neurological infection, and determined that none of the theories of depression have helped, the last reservoirs of hope may be threatened.

Let’s Talk about a Revolution — and the Hype that Comes with it

Lithium for people with bipolar disorder, antipsychotics for schizophrenics, antidepressants and better ECT protocols. Perhaps in part because mental disorders have so many different potential causes, there is rarely such a thing as a universal cure for everybody who suffers from them. However, the success stories do tend to be dramatic with rapidly-occurring changes.

Today, the frontier of the next revolution seems to look toward neuroscience. PET scans and new MRI technologies are allowing mental health professionals to observe the functioning brain in much greater detail. The study of this brain-imaging data and the resulting research is commonly referred to as neuroscience. But here’s the thing: Neuroscience as it exists today has been severely over-hyped by its own marketing, in large part by a mental health industry that wants to be taken more seriously by the scientific and medical communities. Now that we mental health professionals have neuroscience, we can tell you that your problems are a real thing.

A Better Approach for Treatment-Resistant Depression

There are several problems with this attitude. For one thing, this messaging seemingly tries to persuade people to seek treatment at all costs, but doesn’t seem to be aware of the ways it may diminish the empowerment that comes with seeking therapy. Put another way, this message leads the average person to more readily adopt the view that they don’t need to talk to anyone about their problems, they just need to get their brain fixed. In truth, understanding treatment-resistant depression is almost always more complicated than that.

Also, neuroscience marketing also dramatically overstates our current understanding of the brain, its underlying mechanisms, and what they might mean for mental health therapy in general. For another thing, it makes it sound like neuroscience has “arrived.” There’s no doubt that brain-imaging technology and the study of neuroscience holds immense promise. Indeed, we’ve only begun to scratch the surface. For many people with treatment-resistant depression, it’s not today’s treatment that offers hope, but tomorrow’s.

The day may come when people suffering from a chronic biological depression have access to an easy, effective treatment, while the people who suffer from situational depression must continue to go through a prolonged course of psychotherapy. Or maybe there’s a breakthrough that doesn’t make the news but which delivers life-changing results to you personally. There are clinical trials that produce dramatic results for a few, while offering some amount of relief to many others. There’s no telling what the future may hold. There is new and sustained research being conducted on treatment-resistant depression.

Hope and Bargaining with Your Life’s Value

Even individuals who struggle to believe their life has value may find a way to avoid suicide by bargaining with themselves about their situation. One of the most common examples is the presence of loved ones in their life. I could never do that to my mom. I could never leave my husband on his own like that. But not everybody has these loved ones in their life. And sometimes it’s hard not to think that ending their own long-standing agony shouldn’t be the bigger concern.

Recognizing that a personal mental health revolution may still be in stars is another way to protect that last threads of hope to which one may cling. Even when it feels like there’s nothing left for the individual to try on their own, there are hundreds of thousands of people across the world who are actively studying and experimenting with different mental health therapies.

The Importance of Documenting Treatment-Resistant Depression

The importance is so that you can be first in line for clinical trials and so that mental health professionals in Utah can match you with the most promising new treatments. Even as they have deepened your depression over the years, the repeated failure of depression treatments may still lay the groundwork for eventual success. Even if the chances aren’t as big as you would like, endless agony or suicide may turn out to be a false choice if you can keep finding a way to make it through another day.