Our expert says:
At one level its prety simple. Depression can recur, but in every episode one's mood swings down. In Bipolar Disorder, the mood can swing in either direction, either down into a depression or up into a manic episode when one is unrealistically over-excited and at risk. This needs special mood-stabilizing drugs in addition to treatment for either phase. Anxiety commonly goes along with Depression. The distinction from Bipolar Disorder is the direction of the mood swings, and both often are acompanies by anxiety.
If one has had several depressions, one usually does best to remain on antidepressant meds long-term ; there is some evidence suggesting that if one leaves too many depressions untreated, they may get harder to treat successfully. The severity of the depression isn't what distinguishes between these conditions.
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