Manic Depression

Manic depression, commonly known as Bipolar disorder is a psychiatric and mood disorder which is caused by chemical imbalances in brain, excessively long periods of emotional stress and drug abuse, and genetic factors. Manic depression is called bipolar disorder because a person suffering from this disorder has alternating moods which are completely opposite to each other, for instance, extreme happiness and suicidal depression experienced one after the other without any reason.

The mood extremities in manic depressive patients occur in cycles. During the intermediate period, the patients are able to function like other people and lead a normal life. However, this period tends to shorten with age, and the patient may even experience extremely opposite moods several times within the same day. Manic depression can have major effect on a person’s life. People diagnosed with severe manic depression may harbor thoughts of suicide, and extreme mania has even led manic depression patients to commit acts of suicide and homicide.

Manic depression usually occurs in people within the age group of 15 to 24 years. Manic depressive symptoms in teenagers are often labeled as normal rebellious teenage behavior. A number of people suffering from manic depression may even turn to drug or substance abuse in order to ‘self-treat’ themselves. In many cases, manic depression is not diagnosed until the person is middle aged, till which age the pattern of bipolar behavior becomes apparent.

Manic depression is directly associated with extremely risky behavior, which makes it of prime importance for the disorder to be identified and properly treated during early stages. Manic depression becomes significantly more manageable with early diagnosis, however the treatment runs for long terms and may even continue throughout the patient’s lifetime.

Although manic depression is characterized by bipolar behavior and mood swings, not everyone showing these symptoms can be bipolar. Certain physical and mental illnesses like head trauma or inter-cerebral bleeding, thyroid problems, brain tumor, seizures, neurosyphilis (rare form of syphilis), AIDS, imbalance of sodium, diabetes, ADHD, eating disorder like anorexia and bulimia, social phobia, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder etc. are known to cause mood swings and mild bipolar behavior in patients. Drug abuse and withdrawal may also cause extreme mood swings which may be mistaken for manic depressive symptoms.

Manic depression usually has two opposing moods, viz. mania and depression. Mania of manic depression is the extreme ‘high’, during which a person feels superhuman, full of energy and ready for everything. Manic depressive symptoms during the mania part include reckless behavior, lack of sleep or appetite, ADHD and rapid shift of thoughts, hyperactivity, extremely careless and optimistic attitude, delusions and hallucinations, and overly flamboyant and grandiose ideas of fashion and lifestyle which are completely in contrast to the person’s regular beliefs. These symptoms are very apparent, especially to family members or friends, which may prompt them to seek medical attention for the person, since most people experiencing mania phase of manic depression are completely unaware of anything being wrong with them.

The opposite of mania is depression, also called the ‘low’ of manic depression. Although mania is supposed to alternate with depression, many people suffer from more depressive symptoms of manic depression than others. Manic depressive symptoms for depression include extreme sadness and crying spells, excessive worrying, self-inflicted guilt trips, extremely lethargic behavior and attitude sometimes paired with lack of sleep, sudden loss or gain of appetite, troubles with thought process and focusing, isolation of oneself from society, overly pessimistic attitude, and development of chronic pain which have no physical causes.

People suffering from these manic depressive symptoms are known to harbor suicidal thoughts and tendencies. Untreated manic depression can have a 15% risk of death due to suicide in patients, and the risk of suicide or attempted suicide is about 10 times higher in manic depressive patients than in general population.

Manic depression usually occurs in cycles, with an intermediate period of a few months or weeks between the mood extremes. Severe cases or people who have remained untreated of manic depressive symptoms for too long may even experience the mood swings several times a day, which is known as rapid cycling.

People suffering from manic depressive symptoms may become a threat to themselves, and others in extreme cases. Manic depression patients usually never realize anything amiss within themselves. Therefore, it is usually up to family members or friends to take notice and seek medical care when manic depressive symptoms begin to become apparent. Usually manic depressive symptoms remain undiscovered for quite long and it is not until the patient becomes completely unable to function properly at work or home that anyone realizes the possibilities of manic depression.

Manic depression, or bipolar disorder, has no known cure. However, the condition is fairly manageable with proper medical attention and therapy, and allows people suffering from manic depressive symptoms to lead normal lives. One thing that should be kept in mind is that manic depression symptoms cannot be expected to go away with time. Neither does the patient’s condition get any better without proper medical treatment. Therefore, self-treatment or remedies are absolutely worthless. Manic depression and its symptoms are in no way affected by self-care measures.

Manic depression can be treated and made manageable with medical treatment, which usually consists of medications in order to stabilize the mood swings and regular counseling sessions with an experienced therapist. However, these alone cannot work well without strong emotional support from family members and loved ones. Medications used for treatment of manic depression don’t always work in the first trial, since the causes are subjective and differ from person to person. Medication may be required to change many times before an effective combination specific to the patient’s condition is found.

During the change of medication, manic depression patients need strong emotional support from family members and friends. Periods of stress usually occur unexpectedly during this time, which may throw the patient into one of the extremes of manic depression. Family members and friends should always show constant support and bear with the patient in such times. This can help with better management of moods and eventually, better treatment of the disorder overall.

People suffering from extreme manic depression are typically dangerous to themselves and other members of society, since they are known to harbor suicidal and/or homicidal thoughts and tendencies. These patients require hospitalization and subsequent medical care to ensure safety of the patient as well as others. Psychiatric hospitalization allows better management of disorder through constant monitoring and regular medication to treat of the patients’ manic depressive symptoms. Hospitalized patients may also be set for group therapies or one-on-one sessions with psychiatrists. However, hospitalization is only necessary for most serious cases of manic depression. Other cases can be treated as outpatients without risk.

People undergoing treatment for manic depression are strictly advised to follow the treatment routine to the word. Many patients usually give up medication after a while thinking themselves to be treated of the condition. This should be avoided at all costs. Putting a stop to medication for manic depression may cause the manic depressive symptoms to return and worsen the person’s condition with withdrawal symptoms.

Since there are no known causes for manic depression, nothing is known which can help prevent the disorder. However, avoiding drugs like cocaine and adopting a healthy lifestyle may help.