Bipolar disorder can be tricky to uncover because the symptoms can easily be mistaken for other disorders and diagnoses. For example, bipolar depression symptoms often look the same and feel the same as the common Major Depressive Disorder. Bipolar depression symptoms can be recognized, however, not by their unique character, but by looking at other symptoms with which they are combined.
If a man or woman shows signs of mania or hypomania, than there is a good chance that the signs of depression are part of bipolar disorder. However, even this is tricky because a person who has bipolar disorder may also experience a reactive depression.
While all this may seem like splitting hairs, it does speak to an important issue in mental health treatment today. Diagnoses must be made carefully with plenty of data about a person’s life and how they experience life. The patient must be known so well that alternative explanations of his or her bipolar depression symptoms are ruled out. Sadly, many medical professionals make snap assessments based on too little data.