Manic depression is better known as the mental illness Bipolar Disorder. The illness is characterized by mood swings, with abnormal highs of euphoria or irritability (mania) and extreme lows of depression. The illness is called bipolar due to the mood swings going from one extreme to another. It is one of many different depressive disorders but due to its severeness it should not be mistaken for type a major depressive disorder (MDD) because this is something completely separate. This misunderstanding supports the world wide claims that we as a society do not fully understand depressive mental conditions properly.
There are two main types of bipolar disorder. People with bipolar disorder are either type 1 or 2. Bipolar I includes manic symptoms and long-term manic episodes followed by depressive episodes. Bipolar II includes hypomanic episodes and depression symptoms. Hypomania is a form of mania but is milder. If even more mild than bipolar I, a disorder known as cyclothymic will be considered. This is commonly diagnosed in teenagers who are likely to develop bipolar later in life. Sadly bipolar is a chronic condition with no known cure.
Bipolar mood swings can be a mixture between gradual or instantaneous. It is this instantaneous side of bipolar disorder most people are aware of and it could be said this is the side most people fear and therefore unconsciously demonize those who have it because of it. Mania impacts thinking, judgement, and social conduct. An example of this negatively effecting someone may be when they make very poor decisions that can have long term effects i.e. gambling with large amounts of money. Impulsive and excessive spending on bizarre things is very common.
Mania which occurs over a short period of time is known as hypomania and it is closer associated with bipolar II disorder but those with Bipolar I who experience mania and depression may also experience hypomania during their depressed phases. Since hypomania can be considered a less severe version of mania, without correct diagnosis and treatment it can turn into severe mania.
Symptoms of psychosis, which is an impaired relationship with reality (delusions and hallucinations) according to Mental Health America, can appear as part of depressive episodes of mania. Psychotic signs and symptoms in manic depression commonly reflect the patient’s extreme mood (narcissism, grandiosity or delusions). These mixture of symptoms and misunderstanding can also lead to an incorrect diagnosis of schizophrenia.
With proper treatment most bipolar disorder patients can live well balanced lives but this can be difficult due to the many misinterpretation based issues we have mentioned before. Imagine the amount of problems an anti-depressant medication could cause you if you where taking it for the wrong reasons.
Seeing as manic depression is recurrent, long-term treatment is highly recommended as a necessary preventative measure. The common medication in case would be mood stabilizers. Some examples of these include:
Anticonvulsant Medications include carbamazepine (Tegretol), topiramate (Topamax), lamotrigine (Lamictal) or valproate (Depakote) and are effective in treating seizures.
Lithium (Eskalith, Lithobid). As one of the first medications for mood conditions it has reamined as one of the most effective and successful medications.
In addition to mood stabilizers talk therapy is often used to provide support for bipolar patients and their loved ones. They can gain helpful tips on treatments and medications and also educate themselves on the finer details of the condition itself. Some studies have suggested that interventions from family members or concerned parties can be very beneficial for the patient in question as the help and support would require fewer trips to the hospital which can make things worse for mood stabilization.
Common therapies include:
Self-medicating with cannabis is common in bipolar patients, and anecdotal reports suggest some patients use cannabis to handle both their mania and depression. Studies show there are possible therapeutic effects of cannabis for bipolar patients. The cannabinoids Delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) may cause sedative, hypnotic, antidepressant, or antipsychotic effects.
Manic Depression is a term that has been largely replaced by the term Bipolar Disorder in recent years. This disorder is a serious, life changing illness. It can affect everything from school life, careers, family dynamics, friendships and relationships. Managing the symptoms well is the key to maximizing quality of life for someone with Bipolar. Thankfully there are well established treatments available which seem to offer relief and stability for Bipolar patients today.