Things You Need to Know About Bipolar Disorder

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What Are Depressive Episodes?

A major depressive episode doesn’t just mean “I got sad because a bad thing happened.” While life changes can cause a depressive episode, an episode itself goes well above and beyond regular, appropriate sadness. A major depressive episode is a period of at least two weeks of low mood. People with major depressive disorder usually experience low self-esteem and low energy. They often lose interest in things that they enjoy and things that interest them. Which is really disheartening, in and of itself. The things that a person normally uses to restore themselves when they feel bad no longer do anything for them. 

A depressive episode disrupts a person’s day-to-day life. It affects their work performance, their sleep, their eating habits, and their health. People with severe depression may isolate themselves, or have difficulty dealing with basic acts of self-care. Thoughts of suicide are not uncommon, and neither are attempts. Depression is complicated, but the good news is that we've studied it a lot and we have treatments for it. We know a lot about the biology and brain chemistry behind depression, and we can treat it with medication. When someone is experiencing depression the answer isn’t as simple as “cheer up,” or “go outside.” But there are certain cognitive and behavioral therapies that can sometimes be effective - when used alongside medication.

Image: Jordan Whitfield, via Unsplash.

Did you know...

  • Have you ever told your husband something and he promptly forgets it? It's not his fault, actually. It really is because he's a man. The hippocampus (the part of the brain that deals with memory) begins to shrink with age faster in men than it does in women. That's why you can remember everything, and he can't!
  • Just saying the words "thank you" can measurably improve your mood. Researchers can actually measure happiness and changes in brain structure when people practiced regular "grateful thinking." This included things like writing thank you notes, writing gratitude journal entries, mindfully counting their blessings, and thanking friends. It may be helpful in overcoming depression!
  • There are many factors that contribute to your body odor, but one of the strongest links is our diet. This may be some bad news for meat-lovers because many studies have shown that those who refrained from or ate less red meat were judged as being more pleasant smelling. The meat sweats are real, and they don’t smell great!
  • A hearty laugh is good for the heart. Laughing can increase blood flow by 20%. Additionally, looking on the bright side can help you live longer. Studies have shown that a more optimistic outlook is linked to a healthier heart, lower blood pressure, and a lower risk for coronary artery disease.
  • Starting to feel claustrophobic? The smells of apples may help keep your claustrophobic feelings at bay according to a 1995 study by Dr. Alan Hirsch. Green apples, specifically, helped people change their perception of their space. Maybe they thought of expansive apple orchards? Cucumbers and barbecue made the feelings worse.