What is Unipolar Depression? Symptoms, Causes, Treatment 

Unipolar depression also goes by the name of major depressive disorder. The term unipolar means that the depressive episode doesn’t go through the cycle of mania just like in bipolar disorder. Today, we’ll discuss what is unipolar depression; its symptoms, causes, and treatment.

What is Unipolar Depression? 

Unipolar depression comprises losing interest in routine enjoyable activities, worthlessness feelings, low mood, suicidal ideation, and continuous sadness feelings. In order to meet the diagnostic criteria of depressive disorder, the person should exhibit any of the five following symptoms;

  • Suicidal Thoughts: death by suicide, thoughts of dying, and harming yourself
  • Concentration Issues: experiencing brain fog, and having difficulty thinking clearly, paying attention, or focusing
  • Fatigue: emotionally and physically exhausted to the point where it disturbs your routine life
  • Sleeping Issues: sleeping difficulties, either too much or too little
  • Appetite or Weight Changes: gaining or losing weight roundabout 5% of their body weight without eating or performing exercising
  • Losing Interest: losing interest in the pleasurable activities
  • Depressed Mood: depressed feelings on most days like uncertainty about your future, sadness, hopelessness, and empty feelings. The children would exhibit in the form of behavioral issues

Unipolar depressive condition is a severe mental illness that impacts roundabout 8.4% of Americans. The UD condition is more common among females than males, and among young people than adults. According to an estimate, approximately 14.8% of the adults experienced the episode of UD, out of which 66% of the people with the condition received treatment.

Unipolar versus Bipolar Depressive Disorder

Unipolar is the differentiating between major depressive disorder and bipolar depression, and it outlines the alternating episode of mania and depression. In case of misdiagnosis of bipolar disorder with unipolar, the treatment plan won’t work because treatment is different for both disorders.

The UD has got clear differences from bipolar disorder, and it comprises limited manic and hypomanic episodes. A depressive episode is also the main sign of bipolar disorder. If you’re experiencing the symptoms of a depressive episode, then it is significant to consult with the doctor and diagnose it properly whether it’s unipolar or bipolar.

Symptoms of Unipolar Depression 

Some of the main symptoms of unipolar depression are as follows;

  • Self-harm and suicidal thoughts
  • Guilty feelings
  • Worthlessness feelings
  • Difficulty in finishing the task
  • Agitated feelings
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Noticeable change in appetite
  • Limited energy
  • Difficulty in focusing and concentrating
  • Emotionally numb feelings
  • Difficult to experience happiness and joyfulness
  • Not enjoying activities that were enjoyable and pleasurable once
  • Chronic lower mood and sad feelings

Causes of Unipolar Depression 

There are many causes that could play their part in the development of unipolar depression. Some of the main possible causes are as follows;

  • Differences in neurology and brain chemistry
  • History of mental, sexual, and physical abuse and childhood abuse
  • Having a family member with a depressive condition
  • Hereditary in approximately 35% of the cases

Some risk factors that would amplify the development of UD condition are as follows;

  • Having some other medical conditions
  • Females are more at risk of developing this condition
  • Having panic and social anxiety disorder
  • History of substance abuse disorder
  • Widowed, separated, and divorced

Diagnosis of Unipolar Depression 

For the diagnosis of unipolar depression, your doctor or therapist would examine you medically and physically; and ask you questions about your family history and other relevant information. The symptoms of UD are similar to hormonal disorders or thyroid, and that’s why it’s important to rule them out.

According to the diagnostic criteria of DSM-5-TR for unipolar depression (UD), the person must exhibit any of the five following symptoms for two weeks or more;

  • Dying and suicidal thoughts
  • Difficult in thinking and making the decision
  • Guilty, self-blame, and worthlessness feelings
  • Fatigue, incapability to focus, and lower energy level
  • Acting sluggish, agitation, and moving slowly
  • Sleep issues
  • Change in appetite and weight gaining or losing
  • No or little interest in the pleasurable activities
  • Depressed mood

Treatment of Unipolar Depression 

Diagnosis of UD is tricky and it’s difficult to live with it, but the treatment for the unipolar condition is possible. If you are experiencing the symptoms of suicide, dying, and self-harm, then you need urgent treatment. Your doctor would prescribe both medication and therapy in combination. Some of the main treatment plans are as follows;


Some of the main medicines for the treatment of UD condition are as follows;

  • Mirtazapine or bupropion
  • Serotonin modulators
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors
  • Tricyclic antidepressants
  • Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors


Therapeutic treatment is the most effective way to deal with the unipolar disorder. You should choose such therapist that has got experience in treating such patients, and you feel comfortable talking to him.

Conclusion: What is Unipolar Depression? Symptoms, Causes, Treatment 

After an in-depth study of what is unipolar depression; its symptoms, causes, and treatment; we have realized that the depressive episode could badly disturb your life. If you’re experiencing its symptoms, then you should consult with the therapist to work on the treatment plan.