LAKEWOOD RANCH - Lakewood Ranch Psychiatrist, Dr. Andrew Cutler, says bipolar 1 depression is not only chronic, but unpredictable.

“There are high and low mood swings, and these we call mania and depression, and these episodes can last for days to months," Dr. Cutler said.

He says bipolar is hard to diagnose. 

“The problem with the depressive symptoms is they can be confused with another disorder called major depressive disorder," Dr. Cutler said.

The manic symptoms of bipolar make it unique.

" thoughts, decreased need for sleep, abnormally high energy and some behaviors that show poor judgment like spending sprees or reckless driving," Dr. Cutler said.

Matt has bipolar I depression and has felt both ends of the spectrum.

“It took me 25 years to get a diagnosis," Matt said.

Dr. Cutler says the condition typically starts in the teenage years or early 20's. Matt says he was 13 or 14 when symptoms appeared.

“For me the depression side of the disease is what showed its head first," Matt said. 

He knew something wasn’t right.

“I didn’t know that me staying up all night and cleaning the house or watching TV all night was a manic episode, so I would be depressed and still be up like that for days on end," Matt said.

It interfered with his life to the point where he couldn’t hold on to a job or take care of his family, but after finally getting the proper diagnosis, medication, and therapy he's feeling good.

“I'm able to cut the grass; I'm able to take my kids to the bus stop in the morning," Matt said.

He says things aren’t perfect but much better than before his diagnosis. He says if you’re experiencing similar symptoms, be honest with your doctor.

“Tell the truth. Don’t be afraid because all it does is hold you back even more," Matt said.

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