What Is Unipolar Depression?

Unipolar Depression

A dismal, depressed, or hopeless mood is a symptom of unipolar depression, a mental health disease.

You have symptoms from just one end of the mood spectrum if you have unipolar disorder, which is a phrase derived from the roots “uni” (one) and “polar” (end).

The term “unipolar depression” is frequently used to refer to all forms of depression that solely include one mood state. However, some individuals also use the phrase in a more precise sense as a synonym for major depressive disorder (MDD).

Here’s a simple guide to understanding unipolar depression and how to get treatment for any depressive symptoms, regardless of your individual diagnosis.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

The main unipolar depression diagnostic criteria include a poor mood lasting at least two weeks.

For instance, you might feel depressed, agitated, or generally unhappy with life, and these emotions often won’t get better if your circumstances alter or something good occurs.

Even when spending time with the people you love and engaging in things you typically like, anhedonia, or feeling less excitement, enjoyment, or pleasure, may occur.

Other primary signs of depression include:

  • Changes in appetite: You can get more frequently hungry or not have any desire to eat anything at all.
  • Significant weight changes: Your body weight changes by at least 5% in a single month.
  • Fatigue: Regardless of how much sleep you get, you feel exhausted virtually constantly.
  • Sleep disturbance: You can find it difficult to get to sleep, have difficulties staying asleep, or sleep more than usual.
  • Psychomotor changes: Your motions may feel much slower than usual or your body may feel quite jittery.
  • Extreme guilt: You can place a lot of blame on yourself for errors or think you’re “worthless.”
  • Thinking challenges: You can experience mental fog or have problems recalling details, focusing, or making judgements.

How to get assistance for suicidal thoughts

Help is readily available if you are contemplating suicide right now.

Call the Suicide and Crisis Helpline at 988 to speak with compassionate, private support from a qualified crisis counsellor.

Rather communicate via text? To contact a crisis counsellor at Crisis Text Line, text “HOME” to 741-741.

These free helplines are available to you 365 days a year, around the clock.

Not everyone who has unipolar depression may experience all of its possible symptoms. The most recent version of the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5)” states that at least five of the aforementioned symptoms must be present in order to diagnose MDD. Nevertheless, two people with depression may have completely diverse experiences with the illness.

A 2018 study found that severe depression is frequently indicated by a mix of acute guilt, anhedonia, and suicidal thoughts. However, any combination of symptoms might feel severe and overpowering and significantly affect your day-to-day existence.

In What Ways Does It Differ From Other Forms Of  Depression?

Again, major depressive disorder (MDD), also known as major depression, clinical depression, or classic depression, is frequently referred to as unipolar depression.

Mood swings lasting weeks or months are common in major depression. Usually, your symptoms will get better after the experience. Nevertheless, over half of all individuals who suffer one episode of depression go on to experience another within 8 to 12 weeks. Your symptoms could reappear for no apparent reason.

Other forms of depression that may be classified as “unipolar” include:

  • Chronic depression : This disorder, which has a minimum 2-year duration, is also known as dysthymia or persistent depression. It involves less severe depression symptoms that never completely go away. In other words, you’ll have a persistently bad mood and other signs of depression most days.
  • Seasonal depression: Also known as SAD or MDD with a seasonal pattern, this type of depression is primarily related to the cyclical nature of the seasons. Though you could have symptoms in the opposite way, depression symptoms typically begin during the colder months and vanish when the warmer months arrive.
  • Depression after childbirth: This kind develops following pregnancy. You can struggle to bond with your child, feel worry and anxiety about your parental role, in addition to other depressive symptoms.
  • Situational depression: This type of depression often manifests its symptoms three months following a severe or stressful incident. Since your symptoms appear in response to a particular stressor, this type of depression is also known as reactive depression.

Depression with features of psychosis

In the general population, about 4 in every 1,000 adults experience depression with features of psychosis. With this subtype of depression, delusions, paranoia, and hallucinations may factor into your mood symptoms.

For example, you might develop a deep but unfounded belief that your friend got divorced because of a joke you told at their wedding 5 years ago. You may feel immensely guilty and avoid your friend because you’re convinced you sabotaged their life and don’t deserve them.

If you have depression with features of psychosis, you’ll only experience psychosis during a mood episode. Symptoms of psychosis that happen when you don’t have depression could suggest another condition, like schizophrenia.


Psychotic symptoms might appear without having a serious depression.

According to studies from 2021, you can have reduced depressive symptoms and still have psychotic symptoms.

Unipolar vs. bipolar depression

You may note that these signs and symptoms essentially match the criteria for an episode of MDD if you read over the criteria for a depressive episode that occurs in conjunction with bipolar illness.

The truth is that it can be challenging for even mental health professionals to discern between unipolar depression and bipolar depression, or an episode of depression that occurs in conjunction with bipolar illness.

Unipolar depression and bipolar depression, however, tend to present in your brain in distinct ways, according to some data.


How about depression that has a variety of symptoms?

Experts refer to “mixed characteristics” as an episode of depression that also includes at least three mania-like symptoms, which affects around 1 in 4 patients with depression. You might, for instance, experience racing thoughts, sensations of impulsivity, and heightened activity in addition to a negative mood.

These symptoms might not feel as severe as those commonly connected to a manic episode, but they may be a sign of manic episodes to come.

The proportion of patients who later fit the diagnostic criteria for bipolar I or bipolar II disorder ranges from 13% to 20% of those who were initially diagnosed with depression with mixed characteristics.

How Do I Treatment My Unipolar Depression

The symptoms of any sort of depression can be treated using a variety of methods.


The American Psychological Association states that second-generation antidepressants are frequently used to treat unipolar depression. Your medical professional or therapist might suggest:

  • SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, influence serotonin levels.
  • Serotonin and norepinephrine levels are affected by the drug serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI).
  • Norepinephrine and dopamine levels are affected by the NDRI (norepinephrine/dopamine reuptake inhibitor).

To locate a drug that is effective for you, you might need to try a few. After taking your prescription medication for eight weeks, you should contact the doctor who prescribed it if you don’t feel any better.

They may suggest a different class of antidepressant or adjust the dosage of the one you are already taking. In some circumstances, changing your dose can have an impact on your symptoms.


Research repeatedly shows that therapy and medicine work better together to treat depression than medication works by itself.

Therapies that have been shown to effectively treat the symptoms of depression include:

  • behavioural therapy activation
  • Behavioral-cognitive therapy (CBT)
  • interpersonal counselling
  • Psychodynamic counselling

Your therapist might also suggest additional forms of therapy depending on your symptoms and worries, like:

  • The process of commitment and acceptance (ACT)
  • therapy using dialectical behaviour (DBT)
  • brain-based mindfulness therapy

Alternative methods

There are a couple other things to think about if counselling and medicine don’t seem to be helping much:

  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) uses electromagnetic pulses to activate the nerve cells in your brain, which may assist to increase pre-depressive activity levels.
  • A box that emits intense light for a predetermined amount of time each day is used in light therapy. This method frequently works well for addressing winter-onset seasonal depression.
  • Since meditation can help you acknowledge and accept uncomfortable emotions and fight back against self-punishing beliefs, it can be a useful adjunct to professional treatment.
  • Some people also find relief with St. John’s wort, a medical herb noted for its calming and mood-lifting properties. Be sure to see a physician or other healthcare provider before using St. John’s wort, though. Some drugs, notably antidepressants, may interact with it.

How to receive assistance

It can be challenging to determine whether a depressed mood is indicative of a mental health issue or merely a passing emotional slump.

Nevertheless, if your signs include any of the following, speaking with a professional for more support may be a wise move.

  • last longer than two weeks.
  • have an impact on your capacity to carry out regular activities like food shopping, going to work, or taking care of basic hygienic needs.
  • a negative impact on your interpersonal communication
  • involve suicidal or self-destructive ideas

Several different professionals might be a part of a care team for depression. You will require a prescription to purchase medication from a psychiatrist, primary care physician, or other prescribing practitioner. You might get in touch with a therapist, social worker, or psychologist for therapy.

Unipolar Major Depression

  • Unipolar Major Depression is a mood disorder that causes persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness.
  • It is more severe and long-lasting than normal feelings of sadness or grief.
  • The exact cause of Unipolar Major Depression is not fully understood, but it is believed to be a combination of genetic, environmental, and psychological factors.
  • Symptoms of Unipolar Major Depression may include loss of interest in activities, changes in appetite and sleep patterns, fatigue, feelings of worthlessness and guilt, and thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
  • It is often treated with a combination of medication and therapy, including antidepressants and cognitive-behavioral therapy.
  • Early detection and treatment can greatly improve outcomes for those suffering from Unipolar Major Depression.

However, mental health professionals can be found through a variety of sources, including:

  • Your primary care physician or healthcare provider: They may be able to refer you to a mental health professional or provide resources for finding one.
  • Mental health clinics or community health centers: These facilities may offer mental health services, including therapy and medication management, for a reduced cost or on a sliding scale.
  • Insurance provider: Check with your insurance provider to see if they cover mental health services and if there are any in-network providers in your area.
  • Online directories: There are many online directories that can help you find a mental health professional, such as Psychology Today, GoodTherapy, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

Remember, seeking help for anxiety can be a difficult but important step towards managing your symptoms and improving your overall well-being.

The conclusion

Major depression is frequently referred to as unipolar depression, however it can also refer to various forms of depression. In a nutshell, this word aids in differentiating between periods of depression that occur with bipolar disorder and regular depression.

Cognitive symptoms like brain fog, bodily symptoms like exhaustion, and emotional symptoms like guilt feelings and suicidal thoughts are all examples of symptoms.

Unipolar depression can take on a variety of forms and manifestations, and it can also be treated in a variety of ways. Don’t give up even if your initial attempts don’t seem to have much of an impact. You still have choices, and receiving the correct help can significantly reduce your symptoms.

Last worded from author

If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of anxiety, it is important to seek help from a mental health professional. Treatment options may include therapy, medication, or a combination of both. It is also important to practice self-care, such as getting enough rest, eating a balanced diet, and engaging in activities that bring joy and relaxation. Remember, anxiety is a common condition that can be effectively managed with proper treatment and support. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help.


How is Unipolar Depression diagnosed?

Unipolar Depression is typically diagnosed by a mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist. The diagnosis is based on a thorough evaluation of a person’s symptoms, medical history, and family history. The mental health professional may also conduct physical exams or laboratory tests to rule out other conditions that may be causing the symptoms.

What are the risk factors for Unipolar Depression?

There are several risk factors that may increase a person’s likelihood of developing Unipolar Depression. These may include a family history of depression or other mental health disorders, a history of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, chronic stress or traumatic life events, certain medical conditions, and certain medications.

What are the treatment options for Unipolar Depression?

There are several treatment options for Unipolar Depression, including psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of both. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy that is commonly used to treat Unipolar Depression. Antidepressant medications, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), may also be prescribed by a psychiatrist or other medical professional.

Can Unipolar Depression be prevented?

While there is no surefire way to prevent Unipolar Depression, there are several steps that individuals can take to reduce their risk of developing the disorder. These may include maintaining a healthy lifestyle, such as getting regular exercise, eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, and avoiding alcohol and drugs. Additionally, seeking treatment for other medical or mental health conditions and managing stress can also help reduce the risk of developing Unipolar Depression.

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Greetings, I am Dr. Ashutosh Tripathi, a psychologist with extensive expertise in criminal behavior and its impact on psychological well-being. I hold a Master of Physics (Honors), a Master of Philosophy, a Master of Psychology, and a PhD in Psychology from BHU in India.Over the past 13 years, I have been privileged to serve more than 3200 patients with unique and varied psychological needs. My clinical work is guided by a deep passion for helping individuals navigate complex psychological issues and live more fulfilling lives.As a recognized contributor to the field of psychology, my articles have been published in esteemed Indian news forums, such as The Hindu, The Times of India, and Punjab Kesari. I am grateful for the opportunity to have been honored by the Government of Israel for my contributions to the Psychological Assistance Program.I remain committed to advancing our understanding of psychology and its applications through my ongoing research, which can be found on leading online libraries such as Science Direct, Wiley, Elsevier, Orcid, Google Scholar, and loop Frontiers. I am also an active contributor to Quora, where I share my insights on various psychological issues.Overall, I see myself as a lifelong student of psychology, constantly learning and growing from my patients, colleagues, and peers. I consider it a great privilege to have the opportunity to serve others in this field and to contribute to our collective understanding of the human mind and behavior.

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