What is Manic Depression: All that You Need to Know
A majority of people experience ‘ups’ and ‘downs’ in their lives. However, when these swings tend to oscillate between moderate and extreme experiences quite often, that person is suffering from manic depression. Depicting a very unpredictable behavior featuring sudden changes of high severity in mood, such a depression can trigger in a person of any age, right from a child of 5 years to an elderly of 65 years. Further, the symptoms are such that this mood disorder can decelerate one’s school and job performance, disturb one’s daily life, and can even damage the social as well as personal relationships. In this article, let’s explore the causes, symptoms, and treatment of manic depression disorder.
Manic Depression: The Actual Meaning
Put into simple terms, manic depression disorder is a mood disorder wherein the mood of an affected person swings from extremely low (depressed) to overly high (manic) poles. So, during these mood extremes, a sufferer experiences either a very low mood marked by hopelessness and the constant negative belief of ‘I cannot do anything’ or a very elated mood called mania revealing a state of bizarre euphoria. Also known as bipolar manic depression, this brain disorder tends to cause very strange changes in the ability to perform, mood, and energy levels.
The manic depressant experiences mood swings that are beyond the normal swing experiences of most people. Talking about the frequency and number of these swings, they actually tend to vary from one individual to another. According to the recent survey, it has been estimated that around 1% of the total population experience manic depression disorder at some time or the other. While a few people experience only one to two spells, others face several episodes of mania or depression. Let’s now find out its causes and symptoms.
Manic Depression Causes
The exact cause of bipolar manic depression is still not clearly known. However, the experts believe that it can occur due to an imbalance of the neurotransmitters. Also known as chemical transmitters, these neuromessengers are vital chemicals in the brain that are responsible for passing the signals. In most cases, the disorder tends to be hereditary, and it is believed that the variations in the genetic composition can increase the risk of manic depressive disorder. Further, even lack of support, prevailing illness, lack of sleep, and frequent stressful events can trigger the extreme episodes.
Manic Depression Symptoms
A manic depressant can tend to experience worse depressive feelings that prevail for a longer time and make it difficult to tackle the daily problems. Below are the manic depression symptoms featuring a depressive (low) episode.
- Constant feelings of unhappiness
- Loss of interest in tasks that were once enjoyed
- Difficulty in making simple decisions
- Excessive feelings of guilt or triviality
- Unable to foresee a positive future
- Mental and physical sluggishness
- Loss of energy (fatigue)
- Weight loss or gain/change of appetite
- Cannot remain still in any pose
- Difficulty sleeping or excessive sleeping
- Difficulty in thinking or concentrating
- Though patterns that point to suicide or hurting oneself
- Difficulty in getting along with people
- Difficulty in performing simple activities such as taking care of own things
If the manic depressant is in the mania phase, she/he tends to experience abnormally excited, good, or hyper. Lasting for at least a week or more, this episode makes the depressant to believe in strange things that are not real and behave embarrassingly or hurtfully. Listed below are the manic depression symptoms that feature a manic episode.
- An elevated mood or euphoric spell marked by an irresistible sense of self-importance
- Increased energy and loud speech that is difficult for others to understand or follow
- Loss of inhibitions resulting in impulsive behavior
- Expression of over-optimistic ideas
- Decreased sleep
- Psychotic symptoms of hallucinations and delusions in severe cases
Sometimes, a manic depressant can suffer from a mixed bipolar spell wherein the symptoms of depression as well as mania tend to occur together. In such a state, the sufferer could have a very discouraging mood while feeling thrilled at the same time.
When the depressive phase becomes quite severe, the thought of suicide prevail, which can be put into action by the depressant at any time. In fact, a manic depressant is more likely to commit suicide than the ones experiencing a usual state of clinical depression. Not only this, but their suicide attempts also are likely to be more deadly. Such a risk of suicide is more in those victims, who often experience depressive spells, mixed episodes, or an early inception of a disease. Further, even a sufferer who has a family history of suicide or history of drug or alcohol abuse is more likely to committing suicide. Listed below are the manic depression symptoms indicating a high risk of committing suicide.
- Feeling helpless or hopeless most of the time in a day
- Use of the word ‘goodbye’ every now and then
- Feeling useless
- Feeling like a burden to others
- Talking about harming oneself
- Belief that death is better
- Reckless behavior
- In search of harmful pills or weapons
Manic Depression Treatment
Fortunately, bipolar manic depression can be treated although it needs a long-term treatment. The fact that it has a recurrent pattern helps one to get out of it via constant monitoring and medical help, although this takes time. Because the manic depression disorder is a relapsing sickness, it becomes essential to continue treatment even if the manic depressant begins to feel better.
Manic Depression Treatment for Depressive Spells
Listed below are the manic depression treatment options for depressive spells.
- Antidepressant medications such as:
- Tricyclics such as Nortriptyline and Amitriptyline
- Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs) such as Tranlcypromine and Isocarboxazid
- Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Fluoxetine and Citalopram
- Serotonin Noradrenaline Re-uptake Inhibitors (SNRIs) such as Duloxetine and Venlafaxine
- Noradrenaline Re-uptake Inhibitors (NARIs) such as Reboxetine
- Reversible Inhibitors of Monoamine Oxidase Type A (RIMAs)
- Noradrenergic and Specific Serotonergic Antidepressants (NaSSAs) such as Mirtazapine
- Psychological therapy such as:
- Cognitive behavior therapy via which the therapist identifies the causes and solutions of such a low mood and its impact on the behavior
- Emotional therapy for controlling extreme emotions
- Group, Family, or Couple therapy depending upon the cause of the manic depression disorder
Manic Depression Treatment for Manic Spells
Listed below are the bipolar manic depression treatment options for manic spells.
- Antipsychotic medications such as quetiapine, olanzapine, and risperidone
- Mood stabilizing drugs such as valproate and lithium for longer-term therapy and bidding farewell to relapses.
In case of manic depressive treatment via lithium, constant monitoring along with recurring blood tests is essential to ensure enough lithium is present in the body, but not too much, as that can be risky.
Note: In special cases, other drugs are also used to treat this bipolar disorder.
A majority of people continue with the manic depression treatment to prevent new spells and live a symptom-free life. Commonly, such a treatment has more to it than only medicines. This is because medicines tend to inflict side effects and that they alone are not proficient in fully controlling the manic depression symptoms.
Tip: The most effective manic depression treatment features a mix of medication, therapy, social and moral support, and lifestyle changes.
Above all, it is always an ideal way to work with a licensed as well as experienced therapist and doctor. Bipolar disorder is quite complex in nature and that its diagnosis is often challenging along with the treatment being difficult. Therefore, constant monitoring is vital for safety reasons. It is only a skilled therapist who can aid you in coming out from these peaks and dips.
Side Effects of Medications for Manic Depression
Among all the above mentioned medications, the SSRIs inflict minimum side effects. But more or less, all medications trigger minor to major side effects, some of which are listed below.
- Muscle tremors
- Dry mouth
- Blurred vision
- Effects on the heart
- Weight gain
- Increased breast size and milk production
- Increased diabetes and sugar levels
- Drop in blood pressure
- Hallucinations and delusions in case of over dosage
Self-help for Manic Depression
It is not easy to deal with the manic depressive symptoms. Still, it is possible for the manic depressant to ensure that the manic depression symptoms do not run her/his life. It is just a matter of helping yourself while undergoing the above given treatments. The key to help yourself is to make a certain number of smart choices by consulting the right doctor or therapist who can be your reliable friend. However, most of the times, the manic depressants are unable to help themselves. So, it is the responsibility of their family members or friends to encourage them to implement the following changes for self-help.
- Get Support via Counseling: It is very vital to obtain help as well as encouragement from the people on whom the sufferer can rely. A better idea is to talk to a close friend or join a support group that consists of manic depressants.
- Keep a Watch on Stress: At no cost a depressant should enter into high-stress situations. Rather, she/he should perform relaxation techniques such as yoga and deep breathing.
- Go for Healthy Choices: Ensure that the victim takes nutritious diet and 8 hours of sleep, performs exercises, and gives much time to the most interested activity.
- Explore the Disorder: Learn about sickness as much as you can so that you are able to boost your own recovery process.