What is Manic Depression?

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Manic depression, also known as bipolar disorder, is a kind of mental or mood disorder that is characterized by an extreme shift of one’s mood in a period of time. The shift of mood can be from an overly low feeling or depression into extremely high emotion. The change from mania to depression or depression to mania is called an episode.

Episodes of depression or mania vary from person to person. One episode can last for a few days to several weeks or months before changing into another emotion. Sometimes the emotional transition doesn’t immediately follow after an episode (depression or manic); sometimes, transition can happen after a few weeks, months or years.

There are people who can experience predictable emotional patterns; and likewise there are some who do not.

A study made in 1973 revealed that among 400 patients observed with manic-depressive episodes, only 2 did not experience recurrence. Meanwhile, some studies revealed that Lithium reduced the risk of recurrence by about 75 percent.

In general, a person can recover from bipolar disorder without undergoing treatment; however, a person can recover more quickly if treatment is given.

There are 4 types of bipolar disorder according to The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR). Each has its own characteristics and each is used to diagnose the level of damage that the illness inflicts to the person as well as the kind of treatment to be applied:

1) Bipolar I requires the person to experience at least one or more mixed or manic episodes. The Bipolar I patient is not necessarily depressed, although, many who are diagnosed with this category suffer from depression as well.
2) Bipolar II is characterized by one or more episodes of severe depression and hypomania. Hypomania’s presence is merely to establish the bipolar condition from unipolar depression. (There are criteria to determine if the person is experiencing hypomania.)
3) Cyclothymia. To determine if the patient is suffering from this kind of depression, he or she must have several episodes of hypomamia, combined with several episodes of depression (without reaching the full criteria of clinical depression).
4) Bipolar Disorder NOS (Not Otherwise Specified). The patient should not fall on any of the 3 criteria given above but still showing some signs of bipolar disorder.

Symptoms of depression include severe sadness that results in crying and tearfulness, isolation and boredom, sensitivity to negative feedback and rejection, lack of concentration, anger and irritability. They may also experience pessimism and hopelessness, changes in sleeping and eating patterns, physical pain such as headaches, back pain, muscle and joint pains, problems with the digestive system and lethargy, restlessness, a lack of self-confidence that could be the cause of low self-esteem and thoughts of death or suicide

Symptoms of mania include excessive anger over simple things, quick thinking and association of things that may or may not be related to one another which can lead to poor judgment. A significant change in physical energy, extreme irritability, change of mood from normal to extreme, overreacting to stimuli, and high levels of mania (including aggression, hostility, irritability, sexual drive, paranoia, volatility, and psychosis),

There is no particular cure for bipolar disorder that is why it is so important to know its types and symptoms because armed with that knowledge, it can be managed properly. The emphasis however is to treat the emerging symptoms and prevent the further damage through psychotherapeutic and pharmacological techniques.

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