Manic Depression and Bipolar Disorder

The term manic refers to the condition known in expert circles as manic depression or bipolar disorder – an illness recognized for its dramatic shifts in moods, energy levels and behavior.

The periods of highs and lows (extreme mood swings from overly high to sad and back again) are called manic and depressive episodes.

Almost 2 million American adults are affected by the condition with an equal spread among males and females.

However, there is a strong tendency for men to demonstrate more manic episodes and more depressive episodes for women.

Experts note the high tendencies for the illness to recur among members of the same family therefore pointing to possibilities of genetic origins.

Like other serious ailments, manic depression has a damaging effect on people’s lives.

Symptoms of manic-depression

People who are manic-depressive exhibit experiencing alternate feelings of “highs” and “lows.” The “highs” are called mania while “lows” are periods of depression.

The signs mania, or manic episodes include: 

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– Substance abuse
– Hyperactivity (mental and physical)
– Inflated confidence
– Bad temper
– Heightened aggressiveness
– Ability to perform despite lack of sleep
– Incoherent speech and thoughts
– Impulsiveness and poor judgment
– Easily distracted / short attention span
– Reckless behavior
– Inability to concentrate
– Overly euphoric mood
– High irritability
– Increased sexual drive
– Talking very fast to keep up with racing thoughts

Signs of depression, or depressive episodes, are:

– Crying for no apparent reason
– Unintended dramatic weight losses or gain, extreme changes in appetite
– Recurring feelings of fatigue
– Feelings of helplessness and/or hopelessness
– Long periods of sad or empty moods
– Diminished interest in activities formerly enjoyed
– Pensive moods or restlessness
– Thoughts of and/or attempts at suicide

Hypomania is a moderate type of mania and the person experiencing it may appear to feel and function well.

It is possible that when family or friends recognize the mood swings as possible bipolar disorder, the person in question may actually refuse to acknowledge that something is wrong.

Self-diagnosis is not possible and only trained professionals can definitely conclude if the condition is applicable to your case.

Unfortunately, many individuals choose not to seek expert attention and advice during periods of mania because they feel manic symptoms has a positive impact on their performances.

However, if left untreated, hypomania can develop into severe mania.

Severe manic and depressive episodes can involve signs of psychosis. Commonsymptoms of psychotic episodes are hallucinations (sensing things not actually there) and delusions (false beliefs).

For example, during mania, delusions such as possessing special powers may occur.

On the other hand, in depressive episodes, the person may be deluded to feel utterly worthless as if they were totally ruined.

In other patients, symptoms of manic and depressive episodes may happen at the same time, which is referred to as a mixed bipolar state.

In this state, a person may have a very low view of oneself (self-esteem) while being in a highly energized state.

Causes of bipolar disorder

Scientists are researching the possible causes of bipolar disorder through several types of studies.

Many agree that there is no single cause for bipolar disorder and many factors act together to cause the illness.

Types of Manic Depression

Manic depression is classified into Type I and Type II. The main difference between them is the intensity and severity of the condition.

If signs and symptoms of mania and a depression alternate with each other for a week, bipolar disorder type I may be the case.

Given that this condition is the more serious of the two, Bipolar disorder Type I calls for immediate and expert professional advice and attention.

Although a less severe form of manic depression, Bipolar II disorder still exhibits low depressive episodes accompanied by at least one low- or hypo-manic episode. (Hypo-mania is simply manic episodes of a lesser degree.)

Consult with a doctor or a psychiatrist about hypomania diagnosis if you’ve had or are currently experiencing for several days symptoms such as:

– Inflated confidence
– No need for sleep
– Talkative and hyperactive
– Random fleeting thoughts with inability or difficulty to focus on one idea at a time
– Difficulty in concentrating
– Unusually goal-driven and aggressive
– Doing things uncharacteristic of your usual behavior

Be honest with your feelings and share them as well as the symptoms you’re experiencing with your doctor.

Do not hesitate to see seek a second opinion if you feel your condition is are not properly addressed or if no improvement is felt even after the prescribed treatment.

Bipolar Disorder Treatments

Most people with bipolar disorder can maintain stabilization of their mood swings with proper treatment. Since it is a recurring illness, long-term preventive treatments are recommended.

In most cases, bipolar disorder is much better controlled if treatment is constant rather than going on and off. But even when treatment is continuous, mood changes can occur.

Working closely and communicating with the doctor about treatment concerns and options make a difference in the effectiveness of treatments.

Manic depression is a treatable disease with several therapies and treatments being developed or improved. However, since the condition is still difficult to address, it is highly recommended you consult with a psychiatrist with an established record and experience.

Be sure to share with your doctor your history regarding manic-depressive episodes as well as the current symptoms you’re experiencing. Tell your doctor if any of your family have had the same condition or have had “nervous breakdowns” or have been diagnosed and/or treated for substance (drug/alcohol) abuse.

It is strongly recommended to keep track of daily mood symptoms, treatments, and lifestyle (habits and sleep patterns) as well as life events for people with bipolar disorder so that patients and their families can better understand the illness.

The journal can also help the doctor treat the illness more effectively.

Medications

Medications for bipolar disorder are prescribed by psychiatrists (medical doctors with expertise in diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders).

Mood stabilizers usually are prescribed to help control bipolar disorder. In general, people with bipolar disorder continue treatment for years.

Other medications are added when necessary, for shorter periods, to treat episodes of mania or depression that occur even with mood stabilizers.

Thyroid Function

Bipolar disorder patients are commonly observed to have thyroid gland functions different from most. Since both too much or too few secretions of the hormone thyroid influences mood changes, it is important thyroid levels are diligently managed.

Talk Therapy

To supplement medication, psychosocial treatments help in lending support to people with bipolar disorder as well as for their families. It has been observed that talk therapy can lead to an increase in the stability on one’s mood.

Qualified professionals such as psychologists, or trained counselors can provide these therapy sessions.

To carefully observe the patient’s progress, these professionals often work in tandem with a psychiatrist. The regularity and the kinds of therapy sessions used are decided on the basis of the individual treatment needs of each patient.

Given these treatments however, it is important to understand that bipolar disorder is a long-term illness that currently has no cure.

But with education and understanding on the part of not only the patient, but the family as well, and with continuing treatment (even when not symptomatic), the disease can be kept in check, reducing chances of recurrence and relapse and hopefully lead on to recovery.