Unipolar Depression Sign & Symptoms

Unipolar Depression

This is a major depression type named as a major depressive episode, which usually occurs after the manic phase in the form of classic unipolar depression. It is a psychiatric state of mind having all classic symptoms of lethargy, anhedonia, despondency, morbid, sleep disturbance, suicide attempts and feelings of worthlessness, but have no organic dysfunction.

Diagnostic criteria of unipolar depression

The diagnostic criteria define the analyses and identification of unipolar depression. Here is the list of diagnostic criteria with different abnormal moods which significantly interfere with the life of the affected individual:

  • Abnormal loss of all pleasure and interest
  • Abnormal depressed mood swings
  • If 18 or greater than 18, abnormal irritable mood swings, nearly on regular basis, for at least 2 weeks.
  • Abnormal loss of all pleasure and interest mostly day time, nearly on regular basis, 2 weeks at least.

Five of the following signs have been shown during the depressed period.

  • Abnormal unhappy mood (particularly at adolescent age)
  • Weight disturbance
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Decreased appetite
  • Abnormal insomnia, abnormal hypersomnia or sleep disturbance
  • Abnormal activity such as abnormal slowing or abnormal agitation
  • Loss of energy or abnormal fatigue
  • Indecisiveness or poor concentration
  • Inappropriate guilt or abnormal self-reproach
  • Abnormal morbid feelings of death or suicide attempts

Sign and symptoms

There are different factors contributing related to the development of unipolar depression. Typically, these factors manifest in coping reactions and behaviors to how the person feels. Depends on the condition, you may feel the various signs and symptoms.

  • Inability to focus
  • Restlessness
  • Negative thinking with inability to access positive solutions
  • Agitation
  • Irritability
  • Lashing out at loved ones
  • Suicidal thoughts, morbid
  • Lethargy and exhaustion
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Increase in sleep
  • Withdrawing from regular activities or from loved ones

These signs and indications are not due to the mood-contrasting psychosis. There is a combination of hypomanic episodes, diverse episode or manic episode. The signs are not due to the use of prescription, alcohol, street drugs or physical illness. Moreover, it is not due to the normal bereavement. According to the definition of the unipolar depressive disorder, the conditions do not include the following factors:

  • Normal bereavement
  • Street drug use, medication, alcohol, physical illness
  • Bipolar Depressive diseases
  • Mood-contrasting psychosis such as Delusional Syndrome, Schizoaffective Disorder, Schizophreniform Disorder, Schizophrenia disorder or Psychotic Disorder Not Specified).

Unipolar depression causes

Despondency is being generally a normal feedback to loss of interest. However, in unipolar depressive disorder, despondency is due to:

  • Loss of pleasure
  • Persists for more than 2 weeks
  • Functional impairment

Unipolar depression causes disabled physical symptoms such as weight, sleep, appetite and psychomotor activity. The sadness disorder is described as discourage, hopeless or depressive attitude. This sadness is denied at first time. Body pains or aches, is the primary sign of the unipolar depression and considered as true feeling of sadness. The loss of pleasure or interest in this disorder is the reduced capacity of the extreme sad feeling known as anhedonia. The outcome is the lack of motivation that can be quite crippled.

Abnormal irritable mood

Primarily this disorder showing irritable condition, rather than apathetic mood or depressed condition. Officially, this is not recognized by adults and not recognized easily in adolescents and children.  Unluckily, the irritable depressive disorder alienate their close relationship due to their cranky mood and criticisms.

Physical symptoms

Slowing or Agitation: Mental obstruction (an actual physical slowing of movement, speech and movement) or psychomotor anxiety (physical restlessness or observable pacing) mostly present in severe form of unipolar depressive disorder.

Abnormal appetite: many depressive individuals face weight loss or loss of appetite. Sometimes, excessive eating or weight gain also seen in some patient. Alterations in weight have been seen significantly.

Loss of vitality or Fatigue: Reflective fatigue and lack of potential typically is very disabling and prominent.

Abnormal sleep: Most depressed patients will facing frequent awakening, difficulty sleeping during night time or early morning sleeping or awakening. The excessive sleeping occurs in some depressive patients.

Cognitive symptoms and major depressive disorder

  • Inappropriate guilt or abnormal self-reproach
  • Indecisiveness or Abnormal poor concentration
  • Reduced concentration is an initial sign of unipolar depressive disorder. The disheartened person rapidly becomes intellectually exhausted when asked to study, read, or solve complex issues.
  • Negative thinking about specific character
  • Marked amnesia often accompanies the unipolar depression. As it degrades, this memorial loss can be easily erroneous for early senility known as dementia.
  • Atypical moody thoughts of death (not just fear of vanishing) or suicide

Unipolar depression causes marked dropping of self-confidence and self-esteem with increased negativity, hopelessness and worthlessness. At risky stages, the person feels unreasonably and excessively mortified. Unipolar depression can be extremely dangerous and it eventually lead toward extremely suicidal or self-defeating actions. The sign and symptoms of the suicidal behavior is correlated with the signs of hopelessness or feeling of worthlessness.

History of depressive patients

Every depressive patient has a series of different life events. The history may include:

  • Severity and time course
  • History related to level of recovery and prior episodes
  • History of hypomanic or manic episodes
  • Suicidal plan, intents or ideation.

Examination of unipolar depressive disorder

Analyses of possible medical outcomes are very necessary, such as chronic infection, hypothyroidism, anemia, substance abuse, drug side effects, antihypertensive and oral contraceptives etc. different screening tests are recommended for medical causes of the unipolar depression after physical examination. Different lab tests include CBC (complete blood count), liver and renal function test, electrolyte or thyroid tests, etc. The suicidal ideation is present in serious condition, there is other complicating conditions and there is lack of supportive behavior at home.


Some scientists believed that antidepressants found to be equally effective in therapeutic doses. Almost 2-6 weeks latent period is effective for effective therapeutic doses. Medications continue to prevent the relapse for 4 to 9 months. For persistent depression, doctors recommend chronic prophylactic therapy.

Second-generation antidepressants:

Second generation antidepressants includes the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors such as:

  • Venlafaxine used to monitor blood pressure
  • Bupropion recommended for the patients having cardiac arrest. Also used as monotherapy with certain antidepressants for rest at bedtime.
  • Trazodone (Desyrel), best treatment for those persons facing poor response or side effects from the antidepressants. Contraindicated with terfenadine and astemizole
  • Mirtazapine (Remeron)
  • Nefazodone (Serzone)


Supportive psychotherapy therapy is a part of unipolar depression treatment. Other categories of psychotherapy proved to be helpful in moderate to unipolar depression, with medication.

Substance abuse:

The substance abuse is very common in depressed persons (especially cocaine and alcohol). Street drugs or alcohol is often used as a home remedy for unipolar depression. Though, the use of street drugs worsens the signs of depressive disorder. Unipolar depression may be an outcome of alcohol or drug withdrawal and normally seen after the use of amphetamine and cocaine.

Risk factors of unipolar depression

  • Neurological syndromes: Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, migraine, different kinds of epilepsy, brain tumors, encephalitis
  • .Endocrine disorders: hyperparathyroidism, diabetes mellitus Cushing’s disease and hypothyroidism.
  • Medications: Few medicines can cause unipolar depression, particularly antihypertensive mediators such as beta blockers, analgesics, calcium channel blockers and few anti-migraine medications.


Chronicity or disadvantages in unipolar depressive disorder ae linked with the following factor:

  • Early age of onset
  • Inadequate treatment
  • Only partial recovery after one year
  • Greater number of previous episodes
  • Severe initial symptoms
  • Severe chronic medical illness
  • Family dysfunction
  • Experiencing another mental disorder (e.g. Cocaine Dependency and Alcohol Dependency)

Unipolar depression VS bipolar depression

This article focuses on the unipolar depression and evidence concerning with the bipolar depression appear to be parallel or unique in their course, symptoms and etiology. Over the past few years, conceptions of the unipolar depression with bipolar depressive disorder varied widely. The change in the conceptualization have been show fundamental changes in the analyses and diagnosis nomenclature. Depression and mania are different terms, yet associated with the phenomena since Greece. According to the recent history, mood disorders have been divided in different syndromes of depression and mania. According to the father of psychiatric nosology, kraeplin is the first individual who differentiates the depression and mania.

Functional domainUnipolar depressionBipolar depression
Stress Level,  Anxiety  
Peer RelationshipsMore time on the computer, Decreased  extracurricular activities or socializingExcessive computer time, isolated activities, or isolated extracurricular activities
School &  Academics / Work Moderate  academic  or work stress, work/Grades performance, deteriorating, cutting/missing lass or work, decreased effort    high stress work or academic stress, argumentative,  oppositional, doesn’t care about work, or school, failing performance
Family  RelationshipsOppositional, negative and quietAggressive, won’t talk, withdrawn, angry, brusque
Suicidal IdeationOccasional, vague Prior attempt, has a plan, frequently considered
Other Self HarmNo attempts, but Occasional thoughtsOther self injuries, cutting or damage

Depressive episode criteria

Ideas of self harm Diminished appetite Disturbed sleep Pessimistic thoughts Ideas of unworthiness or guilt Reduced confidence and self-esteemDecreased activity Reduced energy Loss of enjoyment or loss of interest in regular activities Depressive mood

With the move to differentiate unipolar depression from bipolar depression, few changes were made in the classification of depressive disorder which accompanied by mania. Mania and depression within unipolar depression viewed as a basic part of unitary sickness, dysregulation with a single dimension. Actually, the absence or presence of family history of unipolar depression with bipolar symptoms was no more included in the diagnostic criteria. The Unitarian view of unipolar depression justified with the difference between bipolar and unipolar depressive disorder, thought the episodes of unipolar depression are very common to other signs of the depressive disorder. These assumptions about unipolar and bipolar depressions are different and has been continued with the guided research for 30 years. At this stage of differentiation, it is very easy to forget the surrounding creations of the unipolar depression classification. Kraepelin and Hoche’s viewed:

“Manic depressive disorder is a theoretical expression of the opposite pole of affectivity and close internal relationship, but there is no basic objective to raise against it’s relationship”

Different research have been identified from biological correlation of mania depression. It includes the increased level of dopamine activity, increased level of transmembrane potentials and alterations in dopamine receptor mechanism. Although, this article focus on the basic knowledge of unipolar depression and correlation with the bipolar depression, comparison between these two terms, medicines, treatment and suitable home remedies to prevent the situation. While, there is no more research about the positive outcomes for neurotransmitter regulation, amphetamine-challenge mechanism, genetic transporter mechanisms, spectroscopy, neuro-transmitters actions. These suitable approaches are not better for the comparison terms and condition of the unipolar and bipolar depression. Three basic hormones are involved in both condition named as:

  • Dopamine
  • Norepinephrine
  • Serotonin (5-HT)

Psychosocial antecedents to depression

The psychosocial antecedents that are involved in the increased level of unipolar depression are:

  • Cognitive styles
  • Cognition during remission
  • Personality traits
  • Socio-environmental variables
  • Cognition during depressive episodes
  • Cognitive styles as predictors of depression

Psychosocial treatment

Due to personality and cognitive similarities between bipolar and unipolar depression, it seems that psychosocial unipolar depressive treatments should equally effective for other types of the depressive disorder. Explaining the basic reason for equal efficacy is more important in the fact that depression stabilizers are used as mania treatment but not effective for other types.

Treatment and physical therapy

There are many depressive treatment approaches for unipolar depressive disorder. These methods include the following treatments:

  • antidepressant medications
  • somatic therapies
  • psychotherapy
  • electroconvulsive treatment

Electromotive treatment is avoided in many cases, only recommended in severe cases, if antidepressants and psychotherapy is not helpful. A specialist can provide both services prescribed antidepressants and psychotherapy, which is different for every person and depends on the condition. If you are facing any sign and symptoms of major depressive disorder, you should talk to your doctor or specialist. Luckily, unipolar depressive disorder become less activated form in recent years. There is plenty of information that is available for depression disorder, your specialist is likely to choose best strategies to recover your condition. The person should feel better by choosing the best method treatment. Talk to your doctor and specialist, is the first step of happy life. This is the best option to recover soon.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

      Leave a reply