The Ups and Downs of Manic Depressive Disorder

Manic depressive disorder, also referred to as bipolar disorder, is a mental illness that is regarded by the psychiatric community as a major affective mood disorder, a serious condition that requires treatment. Though the illness used to be called manic depression, healthcare providers formally refer to the condition today a bipolar disorder, a title that signifies its up and down mood tendencies. An illness marked by relapse, bipolar disorder typically presents in a sufferer’s teen years and may persist intermittently throughout their lives. Treatment is the key to successfully managing this illness.

Bipolar Disorder: An Overview

girl suffering from manic depressive disorder

Intense and sudden mood shifts are the hallmarks of bipolar disorder. A person suffering from this illness may feel incredibly tired one moment, but suddenly, for no apparent reason, become keenly alert and energized. While some sufferers may have mild symptoms, others may find it difficult to work or lead a normal life. If the disease is left untreated, its rate of relapse is apt to increase and symptoms may worsen or include thoughts of and attempts at suicide. The medical community does not believe there is a single cause that leads to manic depression, but rather is a result of various factors that often include some genetic predisposition for the illness.

Bipolar Disorder vs. Depression: What’s the Difference?

Bipolar disorder and clinical depression are separate and distinct illnesses, but they are often confused because they share many similarities. When someone suffering from manic depression is in the depressive phase of their illness, it can look just like a clinical case of depression including symptoms like feeling sad for more than two weeks, crying or experiencing emotional outbursts for seemingly no reason, lacking energy, losing interests in pastimes that were formerly enjoyable, decreasing social interaction, and feeling worthless.

What distinguishes the two illnesses, however, is the “mania” that accompanies bipolar disorder. Someone with bipolar disorder is apt to experience a manic episode following a depressive episode. During the manic phase of their illness, they may feel wired, energized, and overly confident. The sense of joy and happiness may appear exaggerated to an observer. Racing thoughts and speech are associated with the manic phase of this disorder too. Many sufferers make poor decisions when suffering a manic episode and may engage in risky behaviors involving their finances or relationship. Some may even take drugs or behave in a manner that is quite atypical for them when they are not in a manic phase.

Treatment for Bipolar Disorder

woman after manic bipolar disorder treatment

Once someone has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, treatment should begin promptly. With treatment, this disorder can be optimally managed. While some people with severe episodes may require a temporary psychiatric hospitalization, many sufferers can lead healthy and productive lives. Medications like mood stabilizers are extremely effective for managing this illness, especially in conjunction with antidepressants. Various forms of psychotherapy can also help sufferers ward off relapse.

If you believe your loved one is suffering from this debilitating mental illness, be sure to seek treatment. If your loved one is diagnoses with manic depression, take comfort knowing that there are many viable treatments that can help your loved one lead a normal life.


  1. http://psychcentral.com/lib/whats-the-difference-between-depression-and-manic-depression/
  2. http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/bipolar-disorder-in-adults/index.shtml