Depression vs. Manic Depression

Depression is a serious mental disorder that affects mood. In its various forms, depression is the third most common reason for hospitalizations for young people and adults. (1)

What Is Depression?

Clinical depression is exhibited by feelings of sadness that continue for weeks or months without letting up. Depression is not simply a day or two of being in a saddened mood; it is longer-lasting and accompanied by a loss of energy, a sense of hopelessness, feelings of being weighed down with problems that are unclear and a loss of pleasure in things that once provided a person with happiness.

Symptoms of Depression

Not everyone shows the same signs of depression. Some people may not seem sad on the surface, yet might complain about being unmotivated. Others may not be able to get dressed for the day or even get out of bed at all.

Some of the symptoms of depression include:

  • Problems with sleeping too little or too much
  • Difficulty with concentration
  • Feeling hopeless and helpless
  • Negative thoughts that cannot be controlled
  • Changes in appetite
  • Irritability, anger, aggression
  • Thoughts of suicide

What Is Manic Depression?

Also known as bipolar depression, manic depression is an affective disorder that involves some of the same symptoms as clinical depression. People suffering from manic depression experience moods ranging from deep depression to high-energy states. Bipolar depression affects nearly 6 million American adults yearly. (2)

Symptoms of Manic Depression

Bipolar depression differs from depression in that a person has uncontrollable mood swings rather than an ongoing feeling of sadness and hopelessness.

Some of the symptoms of manic depression include brief durations of depression symptoms with the addition of the following manic symptoms:

  • Feelings of extreme euphoria
  • Irritability, agitation
  • Reduced need for sleep without tiredness
  • Increased rate of speech
  • Thoughts that cannot keep up with speech
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Impulsive activity, such as going on spending sprees
  • High-energy spurts
  • Increased libido
  • Drug abuse
  • Aggressive behavior

Diagnosis and Treatment

It is sometimes hard to diagnose these mood disorders. It is crucial that you are honest with a therapist or doctor about your symptoms. Antidepressants may be used to treat depression in conjunction with talk therapy. But someone with manic depression or bipolar depression needs drugs of a different kind, such as a drug to stabilize mood and a drug to help with manic behavior.

Some mood-stabilizing drugs include lithium or antiseizure drugs like Depakote. These drugs work to restore the natural chemical balance in the brain affecting mood and behavior. Central nervous system depressants like benzodiazepines may be used to help with sleep disorders in those with manic depression.

An alternative treatment for people who have manic depression and suffer from suicidal ideation or psychosis is electroconvulsant therapy. This treatment can be helpful for pregnant women who cannot take medications that may harm the fetus or for those with severe bipolar depressive symptoms.

Mood disorders of any type take time to treat, which is why it is important to receive a correct diagnosis quickly.


  1. http://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-By-the-Numbers
  2. http://www.dbsalliance.org/site/PageServer?pagename=education_statistics_bipolar_disorder