Manic Depression and Bipolar Disorder

Manic is a general term used to describe people who suffer from manic depression, or bipolar disorder. This condition is known for dramatic mood swings and quick variances in both behavior and energy level.

Manic episodes are the periods in which the affected person seems to be extremely elated and to have very high energy levels. Depressive episodes are exactly the opposite.  Mood swings are what take the patient back and forth between the two.
Two million Americans have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and this is almost evenly split among men and women. Men tend to show more manic episodes than women, and women tend to show more depressive episodes than the affected men.  This seems to be a genetic disorder, and to affect many members of the same family commonly. Manic depression, or bipolar disorder, will definitely have a very severe negative impact on the life of the patient and those around them.

Symptoms of manic-depression

Manic episodes are usually indicated by the presence of:

- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Hyperactivity (mental or physical)
- Over-inflated confidence
- Temper flares
- Aggressive behavior
- Low sleep requirements
- Incoherent thoughts or speech
- Impulsive behavior in combination with poor judgments
- Short attention span/Easily distracted
- Recklessness
- No concentration ability
- Extremely happy moods
- Extreme irritability
- Extremely increased sexual drive
- Racing speech and thoughts

Depressive episodes may be indicated by the presence of:
- Crying episodes without a visible cause
- Large weight loss or gain, changes in appetite
- Constant fatigue
- Hopelessness/helplessness
- Marked, unusual sadness for no apparent reason
- No interest in hobbies, or other enjoyable activities
- Restlessness
- Suicidal thoughts or attempts

Hypomania is a type of mania that is considered mild to moderate. The patient may seem to feel fine and to function well in his/her life. Usually, in these cases the patient may not recognize the symptoms although friends and family member may express repeated concerns for the patient.

It is necessary to seek professional help in order to get an accurate diagnosis for bipolar disorder. Only a medical professional will be able to determine that the symptoms experienced are a result of bipolar disorder.  Generally, relief will not be sought during manic episodes, rather it is when the patient is feeling negative about their life that they begin to see a problem within themselves.  The problem with that is that when left untreated, hypomania can evolve into a dangerous condition for the person who is affected.

Hallucinations and delusions are commonly suffered when a patient is experiencing a manic episode.  These two things are very dangerous to the patient and those around them. They should be considered signs of a serious problem.

Delusions may include thinking that one has a super hero like power of some sort.  Obviously, this can be very devastating.  On the other hand, someone who is experiencing a depressive episode may become completely convinced through delusion that they are worthless and a bad person in general.

A mixed bipolar state will occur when both manic and depression hit at the same time. A patient in this state may have very low self-esteem although they appear to be simultaneously in a very energized state of mind.

Causes of bipolar disorder

Researchers agree that there does not seem to be any one specific cause for bipolar disorder. Rather it appears that there are several factors, that in combination will increase the likelihood that someone will become manic depressive.

Types of Manic Depression

Depending on the level of severity of the symptoms experiences, a patient may be diagnosed with either type I or type II manic depression.  The intensity of the symptoms may also be assessed for proper classification of the disease.

Type I is the more serious form of the disorder. If manic and depressive episodes seem to rotate on a weekly or more frequent basis, it is advisable to seek medical attention immediately as it is a sign of a serious problem and risk for the patient.

Type II is still serious, although there are less frequent occurrences of the manic and depressive episodes common to the condition. Hypomania is a less intense demonstration of a manic episode, but it is very common in Type II bipolar disorder.

If you have experienced a combination of the following symptoms, it is probably advisable for you to consult your doctor soon for a consultation:

- Hyperactivity (mental or physical)
- Over-inflated confidence
- Temper flares
- Aggressive behavior
- Low sleep requirements
- Incoherent thoughts or speech
- Impulsive behavior in combination with poor judgments
- Short attention span/Easily distracted

It is important to be completely honest with your doctor about what you feel and how you envision your behavior. If you are acting uncharacteristically, it is important to discover why.

Bipolar Disorder Treatments

Long term stabilization of moods is the goal of a treatment plan for bipolar disorder. It often takes a long time to get the right treatment plan to be effective for a patient. Therefore it is best to begin treatment as soon as possible.

In most cases, bipolar disorder is much better controlled if treatment is constant rather than intermittent. But even when treatment is continuous, mood changes can occur. Working closely with your doctor and communicating with them about treatment concerns and options make an enormous difference in the effectiveness of treatments.

Manic depression is a treatable disease with several therapies and treatments being developed and improved. However, since the condition is still difficult to address, it is highly recommended you consult with a psychiatrist who has 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 members of your family have had the same condition, have had “nervous breakdowns,” or have been diagnosed and/or treated for substance (drug/alcohol) abuse.

It is strongly recommended for people with bipolar disorder that you keep track of daily mood symptoms, treatments, and lifestyle (habits and sleep patterns) as well as life events so that you and your family can better understand the illness. The journal can also help the doctor treat the illness more effectively.


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 having either too many or too few secretions of the hormones that the thyroid influences can produce mood changes, it is important that thyroid levels are diligently managed.

Talk Therapy

To supplement medication, psychosocial treatments help in lending support to people with bipolar disorder as well as their families. It has been observed that talk therapy can lead to an increase in the stability of 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 leading to recovery.



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