August 24, 2017

Manic Depression 101 – Symptoms, Causes & More

Manic Depression, more recently and now more commonly referred to as Bipolar Disorder, is a mood disorder characterized by sudden and often drastic mood swings. These mood swings range from mild to very severe. At one end of the mood swing is clinical depression, while on the other end is extreme mania (an extreme form of elation). This is where the term “Manic Depression” comes from.

If these mood swings begin happening at a more frequent rate, it is known as rapid cycling. Bipolar Disorder has many drawbacks besides the state of the individual’s mood, causing changes in energy, an ability to function normally, or sometimes insomnia.

According to studies down by the World Health Organization, Bipolar Disorder is the sixth highest cause of disability in the world today. 2.5% of the U.S. population has been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. That is roughly six million Americans. Bipolar Disorder is a very serious affliction that makes it difficult for a person to live normally without medication. Unfortunately, not all cases of Bipolar Disorder are diagnosed. This can be a serious problem, as severe cases of Bipolar Disorder can lead to suicidal thoughts and tendencies, and even suicide itself.

The Degrees of Manic Depression

There are three different degrees of Bipolar Disorder. They are Bipolar I, Bipolar II, and Cyclothymia.

Bipolar I

Bipolar I patients suffer from the most well known form of manic depression. They have had at least one manic episode and one mixed episode, and often times but not necessarily a depressed episode as well.

Bipolar II

Bipolar II patients have experienced only hypomania (a milder form of elation) and depression. They have not had any manic episodes. It is much more difficult to be diagnosed with Bipolar II because of how hard it is to diagnose hypomania. Persons with Bipolar II disorder are often misdiagnosed as being only depressed. This form of Manic Depression is thought to be the most common form of Bipolar Disorder, and some research reports that it affects almost 5% of the world’s population.

Cyclothymia

This is the mildest form of Manic Depression. The symptoms are not as severe as Bipolar I and Bipolar II, but they do suffer from mood swings, which involve mild depression and hypomania. Around 30% of individuals suffering from Cyclothymia will go on to suffer manic episodes, at which point they are diagnosed with either Bipolar I or Bipolar II disorder.

Symptoms of Manic Depression

One of the reasons Bipolar Disorder can sometimes be hard to diagnose is because there are so many symptoms, it is easy to diagnose it as a different disease or disorder.

Symptoms of a manic state include:

Severe Insomnia

This often leads to hallucinations, disconnected and wandering thoughts, poor judgment, and even grandiose notions about themselves.

Heightened emotions – A heightened sense of elation that is unnatural. Sometimes they display inappropriate social behavior or irritability.

Increased Energy

An increased libido or they display a heightened speed and raised volume of speaking.

Symptoms of a depressed state include:

Changes in Appetite

This includes both a decreased or increased appetite, often leading to either increased or decreased weight.

Depression

Feelings of hopelessness, guilt, sadness, worthlessness. This often leads to anxious moods along with suicidal thoughts and attempts.

Loss of Energy

Difficulty concentrating, remembering certain things, making decisions of any kind. Often times they will display fatigue, a loss of energy and interest, even in things that usually hold their interest (including sex).

Insomnia

Also sometimes experienced in manic states.

As you can see, there are many symptoms that can be mistaken for less serious problems.  It is when you notice multiple symptoms in a person that it becomes likely that they may have a type of Bipolar Disorder.

Causes of Bipolar Disorder

The causes of Bipolar Disorder are not known.  What little that is known about it is that genetics is one of the risk factors for manic depression.  This, however, does not mean that you will be diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder if someone in your family has it.

There have been studies done with brain imaging that reveal actual physical changes in the brains of individual’s suffering from Bipolar Disorder.  Other studies have shown that persons with Bipolar Disorder often have neurotransmitter imbalances, an abnormally functioning thyroid, as well as high levels of Cortisol, which is a stress hormone.  None of these things have, however, been proven to be a direct cause of Bipolar Disorder.

Bipolar disorder symptomsTriggers for Manic Depression

Because Bipolar Disorder is a disorder involving mood swings, the triggers are largely emotional and based on the individual’s thoughts. However there are some external triggers that cause an individual suffering from Bipolar Disorder to enter a state of depression or mania.

Lack of Sleep

Even if the individual receives only a few less hours of sleep than usual it can cause them severe irritability.

Medication

There are medications that can cause a state of mania including antidepressants, cold medicines, caffeine, thyroid medication, and appetite suppressants.

Stress

Even people without the disorder are affected by stress and so do those with the disorder, on a much larger scale. Individuals with Bipolar Disorder do not deal well with the stress from what are usually life-changing events.

Substance Abuse

Unfortunately individuals suffering from Bipolar Disorder are more prone to substance abuse, which in turn tends to trigger both manic states as well as depressed states.  Specifically, cocaine, ecstasy, and amphetamines (what are known as “uppers”) can cause states of mania.  Alcohol and tranquilizers (or “downers) can cause states of depression.

The Seasons

Most states of mania tend to appear during the summer while depressed states tend to come in the other three seasons.

Suffering From Manic Depression

There are many people all over the world who suffer from Bipolar Disorder, many of whom have not been diagnosed.  90% of those affected by Bipolar Disorder I are hospitalized due to psychiatric reasons at least once in their lifetime.  66% of those individuals will be hospitalized a second or third time.

If left untreated, there is a serious threat that many of these individuals will cause harm to themselves. Unfortunately, because there are so many different symptoms, they are sometimes misdiagnosed.

If a combination of symptoms are apparent in someone you know, or in yourself, go see your doctor or medical professional.  It is important to know that even though Bipolar Disorder is something that is hard to live with, there are medications and treatments available. With the proper medications and awareness of your moods, you can live a happy and normal life, even with a Bipolar Disorder.

 

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