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I am a 29 year old woman diagnosed with bipolar disorder type 1 and also suffer from general anxiety and panic attacks. I have only been recently diagnosed but have been ill since I was a teenager. I tend to have mixed-manic episodes, hence the name of my blog. I am a regular guest blogger for Black Dog Tribe. I am not a mental health professional. I am just writing from my own experiences with mental illness. If you wish to use any of my blog content please contact me at lababup@gmail.com. Visit me on twitter @lababup

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Depression and sadness

Moving on now to depression and its’ relation to sadness. Feelings of sadness is just one symptom among many for depression. Other symptoms include insomnia or hyposomnia, tearfulness, feelings of worthlessness, lack of energy, lack of sex drive, physical sluggishness, difficulty making decisions, poor memory and concentration etc. Again, like mania, depression is not just about the mood you are in. Mental and physical processes and behaviours are also affected. Therefore it is not just a case of feeling ‘a bit sad’.

When I am depressed I feel like there is a cloud over my vision. Everything about the world looks rubbish and pointless. I feel weighed down by everything and things I usually feel positive about become negative. I can no longer feel love properly. My family who I love suddenly don't seem so friendly anymore. I feel like no one really cares and even if they did it wouldn't make anything better. I can't be bothered to get up, get dressed and washed and get on with the day. I just want to sleep forever. I start thinking about what it would be like to die and how I could kill myself. In all of these ways I am depressed. I do not just feel sad but feel a whole range of extreme emotions.

In addition, these feelings are often unrelated to external events. In normal situations, when you feel sad, something has happened to make you feel that way. Your sadness is an appropriate emotional response. However, with depression your mood state may last many months without any extreme event (such as a death in the family) as the cause. The despair is all consuming and there is often no obvious cause.
Is it possible in some cases to be depressed without feeling sad at all? I would say that, strange as this sounds, it may be possible. In the past I had problems sleeping together with low energy, feelings of worthlessness and tearfulness without actually feeling sad as such. In fact, I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome before they realised I had bipolar because I was not presenting obviously as feeling sad.

Perhaps this is an unusual state to be and was possibly a mixed state rather than a pure depression. Nonetheless I think that the link between sadness with depression and mania with happiness is complex. 

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