13 thoughts on “Bipolar Disorder Q&A: Can someone have bipolar without depression?

  • June 12, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    Does bipolar disorder worsen with age? I have been under treatment since 1985, when I was finally diagnosed correctly. I am now 69 and seem to cycling faster and deeper.

    Any ideas? Is this truth or fable??

  • June 12, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    Hi, Franeo:

    As Dr. Fink points out elsewhere, brains change over time, so bipolar symptoms can worsen and in some cases diminish with age.

    Have you checked in with your doctor lately? Because brains can change over time, your doctor may need to adjust your medications accordingly.

  • June 16, 2009 at 10:52 pm

    I’m new to all this as I thought I just had unipolar mild to moderate depression my entire remembered life. At first I never wanted to be in therapy and then when thinks got worse after I was about 20, I did a little therapy off and on. I didn’t want to take any kind of drugs either because I know people with addictions to illegal drugs (family members) and didn’t want it to rule my life. However, I finally lost hope on battling this alone and went to see someone for medications so I could at least sleep last year.

    The meds person now says due to the way I respond to SSRI’s (negatively…all four they’ve tried me on–Paxil, Lexapro, Prozac, Celexa–made me agitated, stressed out, with insomnia and impulsive behaviors) and the ways I respond to others (Seroquel, Wellbutrin, and now Effexor…which I just started 4 days ago so am not sure about, but at least I have energy on WB and can sleep with SQ without the negative voice and shadow), along with recalling hypomania throughout my childhood to present (where I have spastic energy and tell tons of jokes and become extroverted and reveal information I wish I hadn’t to strangers or acquaintances), they think I have bipolar II.

    I had to go to the hospital six months ago due to severe depression and writing about being suicidal to a person in authority, who then contacted the local police. They released me. I wasn’t actually going to hurt myself, but I was thinking a lot about death and I still do, but not as much on these meds. I’ve come close to the edge many times. My therapist (new, only 4 weeks now) said that whether I have bipolar or not it doesn’t affect our sessions and my treatment.

    So my question is, does that make sense to you? And how can I tell my friends and family about my condition if my therapist doesn’t seem to think it’s a big deal? Should I keep it from them? They probably just think I’m a pessimist. But I’m still not doing very well. This whole discovery process was shocking to me. I was not wanting it to be true and in denial for months, now I get it and I don’t think I’ll be supported if I do tell people. They’ll probably just dismiss me. I’ve always taken full responsibility for my actions and I’d rather not have this diagnosis. It feels like if I don’t talk about it, I’ll be isolated without a support system, but if I do, people will think I’m blaming my depression on a disease I can’t control. But I’m doing my very best to get it under control with meds and therapy now that I know what’s going on somewhat. 29, F

  • June 17, 2009 at 11:43 am

    Sorry if I posted this question in the wrong place. Feel free to move it to the appropriate place if so.

    I told my partner about the diagnosis last week (I’m in the midst of a major depression episode) and he said he didn’t think I have bipolar, but I tried to explain the difference between type I and type II and he’s still not convinced. So if the person who’s closest to me doesn’t get it (of course he wasn’t there for my childhood) and thinks my up, creative, super productive times are the good part of me, not the problem, why would my family and friends get it?

    They have wildly distorted images of what bipolar people are like (there are relatives and in-laws in our family who have it) and since I’m so rational and have mostly learned to control my emotions… and have been depressed as a result and felt dead inside, I doubt they’ll even try to get it. I’ve probably answered my own question. Just deal with it alone…with my therapist and the psychiatric meds person.

  • June 17, 2009 at 9:40 pm

    Thinker29 had the very same reactions to SSRI’s. That is what got me into trouble. I feel for your situation.

    The support of family and friends is important. So do your best to explain in non clinical terms how this effects you. I’m lucky in that my partner understands totally and holds no grudges about my actions.

    Take care

  • June 17, 2009 at 10:20 pm

    I’m not sure I’ll be able to when I see them. They live in a different state and I’ll only be there for a short time this summer. I have a sibling who I suspect has the same problem if not schizophrenia (which also has never been diagnosed) and he’s going through a crisis so all the focus will be on getting him into treatment. He has drug and alcohol problems in addition to mood swings and seeing things that aren’t there. I’ll just avoid my issues as usual for the sake of others. But thanks for your thoughts. At some point I think I’ll be able to explain it to them.

    The hospital trip actually probably saved my life in terms of waking me up that I needed to get more serious treatment for my depression and stop thinking it would go away or I could manage it somehow.

  • June 19, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    I just read your comment to the question can you have BP if you have never been depressed. I have an opposite kind of question. Can a person have BP if the have had symptoms of depression without any mania? this person’s moods range from quite depressed to baseline 95% of the time.

  • June 21, 2009 at 1:03 am

    Lisa, that’s what my experience has been…neutral to low grade to severely depressed most of the time, most of my life. However, due to the way I react to medications and events that I saw in a new light through therapy, we discovered that I had had manic episodes and never viewed them that way. You don’t even have to be elated or creative during them. You can be irritable and impulsive. Like, I got in a car and drove across the entire country and then back again with little to no sleep feeling angry and irritated and not even sure why. And this was obviously dangerous to myself and others, but I’d have never thought in a million years before last week that this could be related to something called bipolar disorder. I thought I was unipolar depressed. Unfortunately, many bipolar diagnoses were originally wrongly diagnosed unipolar because neither the patient nor doctor can recall/explain a manic episode as such until one winds up in the hospital for being treated as unipolar (SSRIs can push you from one end of the spectrum to the other). That’s just my experience. I hope it helps, but obviously you or the person need to talk to/see a doctor or psychiatrist and discuss your concerns about the person in question. Plenty of people do just have depression and are not bipolar. But mood disorders can be interrelated and it’s not uncommon to find multiple diagnoses with a person who’s been through a lot of early childhood trauma (eg. PTSD, anxiety, depression, etc.).

  • August 22, 2009 at 9:39 pm

    Can I be bipoler or is it just a anger issuese becuse i can be happy n out of no reson i be very mad to point of thikin that i should be dead last time i cut myself then the next morning i woke up with alot of enrgy like nutthin had happend then i falt very mad again

  • September 4, 2009 at 10:05 am

    I need help paying for my Quetiapine medication.Where can get I get help?I have no credit,no credit card,and no bank account.Please help me.

  • January 8, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    It’s definitely possible! I have bipolar and *knocks wood* have never been depressed. I’ve never done drugs, and it’s definitely not schizoaffective disorder. I have my bad moods, but they’re anxious or angry, not depressed.

  • April 20, 2011 at 8:52 am

    My husbands ex-wife has bipolar and so yes we are easy targets to begin with, however do other people with this disorder have predictable season changes and if so can you pin point the times of manic and depression? Like say in spring does the mood go to anger and so on? Is there a time bipolar goes in remission without crisis?

  • July 15, 2018 at 4:14 am

    Hi there,

    I have a few questions about a comment you mentioned in regards to drugs and being diagnosed bipolar.

    I was diagnosed bipolar 1 for mania only, the feeling of God was the reasoning. The first manic episode, I was going to do the street drug Molly for recreational use with friends. I then went into a manic state and the doctors had me in and out of the psychiatric floor 3 times because of trial and error with the medicine. I also smoked a lot of weed, which I have read can lead to psychosis. Once leveled out I got myself off of the medicine with no symptoms for 2 years, again never had depression.

    The 2nd manic episode happened after traveling and stressing over my job and also it being Father’s Day. Under stress, I have trouble eating and sleeping. I also smoked marijuana. I never thought marijuana was bad so I have been a consistent user for about one year. I was held involuntary for 20 days and almost sent off to the state hospital because I would not corporate or believed in taking their medication because “it did not work”. It took 10 days for the doctor to take me off of Latuda (my mother had to ask her to try what I was on the last time, she was just going to increase the dose)

    I am on lithium and Abilify for being bipolar 1 and to control any manic episodes. I have a appointment with a new psychiatrist, would you recommend I am honest with my psychiatrist? What can be done IF I was diagnosed incorrectly? Is there testing that can be done?

    I do know now to stay away from ALL drugs, including alcohol because of addiction issues within the family.


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