Bipolar and Unipolar Comparison


  • Results from disturbances in the areas of the brain that regulate mood
  • It involves periods of excitability (mania) alternating with periods of depression
  • This may affects men and women equally
  • Usually appears between ages 15 – 25
Manic Phase
  1. Agitation or irritation
  2. Elevated mood (hyperactivity, increased energy, lack of self-control, racing thoughts)
  3. Inflated self-esteem (delusions of grandeur, false beliefs in special abilities)
  4. Little need for sleep
  5. Over-involvement in activities
  6. Poor temper control
  7. Reckless behavior (binge eating, drinking, and/or drug use, impaired judgment, sexual promiscuity, spending sprees)
  8. Tendency to be easily distracted
Depressed Phase
  1. Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
  2. Eating disturbances
  3. Fatigue or listlessness
  4. Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness and/or guilt
  5. Loss of self-esteem
  6. Persistent sadness and thoughts of death
  7. Sleep disturbances
  8. Suicidal thoughts
  9. Withdrawal from activities that were once enjoyed
Medical Intervention
  • Proper History Taking and Observation
  • Antipsychotic medications (such as lithium and mood stabilizers or antidepressant for depressive phase)
  • Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)
Nursing Interventions
  1. Provide a calm environment
  2. Giving health teachings about regular exercise, and proper diet
  3. Explain to patient that getting enough sleep helps keep a stable mood


  • Another name for major depressive disorder
  • Occurs when a person experiences the symptoms for longer than a two-week period
  • The biopsychosocial model proposes that biological, psychological, and social factors all play a role in causing depression
  • The diathesis–stress model specifies that depression results when a preexisting vulnerability, or diathesis, is activated by stressful life events
  1. Depressed mood
  2. A lack of interest in activities normally enjoyed
  3. Changes in weight and sleep
  4. Fatigue
  5. Feelings of worthlessness and guilt
  6. Difficulty concentrating
  7. Has thoughts of death and suicide
Medical Interventions
  • Antidepressants
  • Tricyclic antidepressants
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors
  • Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors
  • Electroconvulsive therapy
Nursing Interventions
  1. Interpersonal Therapy
  2. Psychotherapy
  3. Encourage client to have a regular exercise
  4. Cognitive behavioral therapy
  5. Behavioral modification therapy

Difference between Bipolar and Unipolar Disorder

Gender and Age of Onset Affects women more often than men, appears later in life Affects men and woman equally, average age of onset suspected to be 18 years
Sleep Generally insomnia, difficulty falling asleep or waking repeatedly during the night Generally hypersomnia, excessive tiredness and difficulty waking in the morning
Appetite Often has a loss of appetite and diminished interest in eating Often binge-eating and cravings for carbohydrates, may alternate with loss of appetite
Activity Level Agitated, pacing and restlessness are more common Inactivity, somnolence, a slowing down of movements (psychomotor retardation) more common
Mood Sadness, hopelessness, feelings of worthlessness Same as for unipolar, although guilt is often much more prominent
Other Episodes often last longer, sometimes more responsive to treatment Risk of drug abuse and suicide higher than in unipolar depression