Medical Conditions that Can Behave Like Depression

Medical Conditions that Can Behave Like Depression

When you feel down or low for an extended period of time, you may think you have depression. But the truth is, there are actually several medical conditions that have similarities to depression. Some of these conditions include: Post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder and premenstrual dysphoric disorder.

Before looking at other mental health conditions, it is important to first look at the symptoms of depression. Depression, which is also called major depressive disorder or clinical depression, is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Some of the common symptoms of depression include feeling sad, empty or hopeless. You may have a loss of interest in normal activities, sleep too much or too little, and feel fatigued or anxious. Someone who is depressed may have outbursts of anger, trouble concentrating and even have unexplained pains or aches.[1]

Some of these symptoms of depression actually have a lot in common with other mental health conditions. Let’s look a little closer at some of these other conditions and discuss the specific causes, symptoms and treatment.

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a brain disorder that causes extreme variations in mood, energy, activity levels, and hinders the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. Bipolar disorder features extreme mood swings, much more than the normal ups and downs of life. If an individual struggles with Bipolar Disorder, he or she may feel overly happy in an outgoing mood for an extended period of time and then feel very low for a period of time. An individual may feel very restless or anxious as well. For most, the mood shifts last weeks or months, but some individuals experience ultradian cycling in which moods can last just a few hours or days.

The treatment generally used to treat bipolar disorder often includes mood stabilizers, atypical antipsychotics, and antidepressants. For example, Lithium is a specific form of mood stabilizer that is used for Bipolar Disorder.[2]

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) occurs as a response to living through a shocking, scary, or dangerous event. To have a diagnosis of PTSD, an adult must have several specific conditions for at least 30 days. These include:

  • At least one re-experiencing symptom, such as having flashbacks, bad dreams or frightening thoughts
  • At least one avoidance symptom, like staying isolated, avoiding activities normally enjoyed or feeling numb
  • At least two arousal and reactivity symptoms, including sleep issues, being easily startled or having angry outbursts.
  • At least two cognition and mood symptoms such as having trouble remembering, having negative thoughts or a distorted view of the world

In most cases, the treatment for PTSD is often includes talk therapy or medication. In some cases, antidepressants can help control PTSD symptoms such as sadness, worry, anger, and feeling numb inside.[3] PTSD is often thought of as a mental health condition that occurs among those who have served in the military. While this is sometimes the case, please know you can have PTSD even if you never fought in combat. Witnessing or experiencing a shocking or dangerous event such as assault, rape, murder, or natural disaster, can also trigger PTSD.

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a severe form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). The symptoms of PMDD are similar to PMS but are severe enough to interfere with work, social activities and relationships. Many women experience the following symptoms of PMS: abdominal pain, headaches, and feelings of sadness, irritability or discomfort. Recent studies have shown a connection between PMDD and low levels of serotonin, a receptor in the brain that helps transmit certain nerve signals.[4]

Treatment for PMDD includes a healthy diet, exercise, and over-the-counter pain relievers. In some cases, medication such as antidepressants can relieve the symptoms of PMDD.

Find the Right Treatment for You

There are many mental and physical health conditions that can mimic the symptoms of depression. In addition, substance abuse, such as Klonopin addiction, can mimic or exacerbate symptoms of depression. If you know you are not feeling well, please talk to your doctor. It is possible that you may have a Dual Diagnosis, which means you struggle with two issues simultaneously, such as bipolar disorder and substance abuse. If you are having problems with drinking too much or using drugs like Klonopin to numb your pain, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

It is always best to get help instead of just coping with any issues on your own. You can always reach out and get help today. Mental health can be more difficult to diagnose because it is hard to have an unbiased perspective on your own. Even your spouse or family may not see all of the specific symptoms you experience. Talking with a counselor or therapist may help shed light on any problems you are having at this time. If you’d like to talk to a professional counselor, please call our toll-free helpline, anytime, 24 hours a day. There is no obligation on your part as the only thing that will be asked of you is some basic demographic information and what prompted your call. Get the support you need so you can move forward and feel better.


[1] Depression (major depressive disorder)

[2] Bipolar Disorder

[3] Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

[4] Treating Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder.