It is difficult to make understood exactly what an agitated depression
is, but it does have some features that are rather prominent. You (or
your loved one) will likely exhibit what may at first seem to be a case
of a manic mood swing. Look closer though and you will see many of the
features of they more typical depressive episode. In simple depression
a person may appear lethargic and very nearly comatose (in some cases
with psychotic features the person can indeed become comatose). They may
sleep excessively, fail to feed or dress themselves, appear withdrawn
and overly quiet and in general a pale reflection of their usual selves.
But in an agitated depression the person will pace, be verbally abusive,
angry (most of the anger is self-directed) and in a general state of dysphoria.
This mood can rapidly accelerate to out and out violence so now is
definitely not the time to pull out all the dirty linen for a fresh (not
so fresh) laundering.
Think of a person in this state as you would nitro glycerine and handle
them accordingly. In other words keep your voice quiet and low, speak
soothingly and be prepared to duck just in case the person goes off in
a rant or a physical attack. Whatever you do, don't try to get physical
with a person in such a mood unless you have plenty of capable back-up.
The best thing to do is to talk quietly and listen…don't argue,
but try to persuade them to call their therapist or their psychiatrist.
The person in this mood needs reassurance that you are there because you
care and value them and want nothing bad to happen to them. A soothing,
calm approach is your best choice of action until the mood passes as it
will in its own time.
Do make sure that the implements for self-destruction are well out of
reach of your loved one (or yourself if it's you. Yes, that means getting
rid of sharp objects, dumping your drug stash down the toilet, and making
sure you find someone to be with). Ride this mood out for it will change.
If there is nothing at all one can say about bipolar disorder it is that
the moods don't last. They are soon replaced by one of their many cousins
in the repertoire, so dig your heels in, grip with all your might, and
wait it out till a less volatile mood replaces it.