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Life can be up and down, but if you feel bad for a long time, it can be a sign of something more serious. Here you can read more about what unipolar depression is and how you can get help.

What is unipolar depression?

Unipolar depression is a condition where you experience periods of low mood and other depressive symptoms without experiencing manic or hypomanic episodes, as in bipolar depression. The term ‘unipolar’ is used to distinguish the conditions.

What is the difference between unipolar and bipolar depression?

Unipolar and bipolar depression are both affective disorders but they differ mainly in the way they are expressed. People with unipolar depression experience periods of low mood, loss of interest or happiness, sleep disturbances, changes in appetite and other depressive symptoms, as do people with bipolar depression, but these are often interspersed with periods of increased energy, exaggerated moodiness and impulsive behaviour. Bipolar diagnosis also takes different forms, with type 1 being the more severe type with manic episodes and type 2 being the lighter form with more hypomanic symptoms. Read more below.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimated that 2.1 million Australians, or 9.3 per cent of our population, were suffering from some form of depression. On average, around 1 in 6 Australian people – 1 in 5 women and 1 in 8 men – will experience MDD at some point in their lives.

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Treatment for both unipolar and bipolar depression often involves both psychotherapy and medication, but the drugs used may be different. Depression is often treated with antidepressants and bipolar disorder may also be treated with antidepressants, but medication also includes mood stabilizers and antipsychotics. Treatment for bipolar disorder is often long-term, but it is possible to live a normal life without symptoms with the right treatment. At Lavendla, we do not treat bipolar disorder as more specialized interventions are needed.

You are not alone

About 9.3% of the population in Australia suffers from depression so there are many people affected. It is more common among women than men, although it may be under-reported as men may not be as likely to seek help. With the right treatment, it is possible to feel better.

Symptoms of unipolar depression

The symptoms of unipolar depression are the same as the symptoms of depression in general. Depression is caused by several factors: genetic, biological, psychological and environmental. You may experience low mood, reduced desire to do things, tiredness, aches and pains and problems sleeping. If you are depressed, your concentration may be affected and you may have problems studying or working. You may also start avoiding things and stop seeing people you usually associate with. The severity can be mild, moderate or severe and it is important to seek help if you need it. At Lavendla, we can help you with assessment and treatment based on your problems.

Treatment for unipolar depression

There are various treatment options for dealing with depression. Psychotherapy and lifestyle changes are common treatments and sometimes medication is also needed. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) with behavioral activation or interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) have proven to be effective treatment methods. Talking to a professional therapist or psychologist can help you work on concrete strategies to improve your well-being.

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We make the hard things easier

Talking about mental health problems can be difficult, but seeking help is an important step in improving your quality of life. The benefits include improved health, better work ability and improved relationships. By seeking professional help, you can make the difficult a little easier. At Lavendla, we have therapists and psychologists who can help you.

If you or someone you know has thoughts of self-harm, call emergency services immediately on 000 or call Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14 (24 hour service).

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12 frequently asked questions about depression

What is unipolar depression?

Unipolar depression is a depression that, unlike bipolar depression, does not have manic or hypomanic periods.

What are the most common symptoms of unipolar depression?

As with normal depression, the most common symptoms include lack of energy, sleep problems and a reduced appetite. Consultation with a psychologist can help to make a diagnosis.

How is unipolar depression diagnosed?

Diagnosis of depression is usually done through interviews and questionnaires. Sometimes blood tests may also be taken to rule out other medical causes.

Are there different types of depression?

Yes, there are several forms such as unipolar and bipolar. Each type has its own specific treatment methods and symptoms.

How is unipolar depression treated?

Treatment options are as for depression in general, often including a combination of medication, therapy and lifestyle changes. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) are common forms of psychological treatment.

How long does depression treatment last?

The length of treatment can vary depending on the severity and individual needs. Depression can be mild, moderate and severe and the duration of treatment is adjusted accordingly. Some people can experience relief within a few weeks, while others need longer treatment.

What is the difference between unipolar and bipolar depression?

People with unipolar depression experience depressive symptoms and so do people with bipolar depression, but these are often interspersed with periods of manic or hypomanic symptoms.

Do you treat bipolar depression?

No, we don’t treat bipolar disorder, so you have to turn to the specialized psychiatry that has affective clinics. They offer longer treatments and it is possible to get help for better health there.

What are the risk factors for depression?

Crisis, trauma and lifestyle factors contribute to the development of depression. There may also be genetic factors.

Is depression more common in men or women?

Depression is more common in women, but men are less likely to seek help. Symptoms may also differ between the sexes.

How does depression affect relationships?

Depression can make it difficult to maintain healthy relationships and can lead to social isolation. It is important to seek help to overcome the condition.

Where can I get help?

If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, it is important to seek professional help. Our psychologists and therapists are available for online consultations and can help you make the hard part easier.

What does treatment for unipolar depression involve?

Seeking help is a big step towards better health, it is a positive thing to decide to take control of how you feel. Here is an overview of the steps usually involved in therapy.

Step 1: An initial assessment session

The first meeting with your psychologist or therapist is an assessment to review your mental and physical health. You may be asked questions about your life situation, feelings, thoughts and behaviors. You may also be asked to complete assessment forms.

Step 2: Goal setting

This is where you and your therapist set concrete goals for the therapy, both short and long term. It can define which areas of your life are most affected by your wellbeing and how you would like to change them.

Step 3: Treatment for depression

This is the start of the actual treatment phase, which may include treatment such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT). Talk therapy, exercises, and homework assignments aimed at giving you tools to overcome your depression.

Step 4: Monitoring and evaluation

The treatment is monitored regularly to see how well the therapy is working. If necessary, the treatment plan can be adjusted or renewed.

Step 5: Ending and looking ahead

As the therapy comes to an end, it is time to reflect on the progress made. You will also receive a plan on how to use the tools and strategies you have learned in the future.

If you or someone close to you is seeking professional help for depression, don’t hesitate to book a session with one of our qualified psychologists or therapists.

Lavendla – Making the difficult easier

Written by melissa

Melissa is a Certified Kinesiologist who focusses on a client-centred, holistic and integrative approach to health and wellness. She has extensive experience in managing stress, anxiety, fears, phobias and trauma in her clients. Melissa uses visual and auditory feedback to directly access and solve the cause of psychological stressors in the body so that optimal well-being and balance is achieved.