Manic depressive disorder is more commonly referred to as bipolar disorder today. This mental health condition is known for its fierce mood changes — from highs to lows, hence its name.
According to recent research by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), 2.8% of people in the United States have bipolar disorder. Whether you are one of them or know someone who is, you probably have some questions.
Here is everything you need to know about manic depressive disorder — including what you can do to get relief from its symptoms.
Signs and Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder
The two major symptoms of bipolar disorder are episodes of mania and episodes of depression. Below is an idea of what each one of these looks like.
Manic episodes are those with a very elevated mood that may include:
Excessive amounts of energy
Feelings of euphoria
Very talkative, often speaking very fast
Having racing, jumbled thoughts
Inability to concentrate, easily distracted
Grandiose thoughts – including an inflated sense of self
Engaging in risky behaviors
Easily agitated and irritable
Sometimes the feelings are not as high as others. This is known as hypomania. It includes many of the above, just not as extreme as a fully manic episode.
Depressive episodes are those that involve a low mood. A few indicative signs of these episodes are:
Feeling exhausted with low energy
Loss of interest in activities
Appetite changes, whether eating a lot or not eating at all
Inability to concentrate
Unable to make decisions
Feelings of sadness, worthlessness, guilt, emptiness, and hopelessness
Anxious and full of worry
Those who find themselves in depressive episodes may also have thoughts about death and/or suicide.
How often these moods switch and how drastic they are will vary greatly. Someone may have an episode that just lasts for a couple of days or they may last for a few weeks or more.
Types of Bipolar Disorder
As mentioned, manic depressive disorder can be experienced differently for each person. So much so that there are a few distinct types.
Bipolar I Disorder
Individuals who have bipolar I disorder are those who have at least one manic episode but have also had depressive or hypomanic episodes, too.
Bipolar II Disorder
This type of bipolar disorder has mood swings between highs and lows, but tends to be more hypomanic without intense highs. However, the lows can still be as low as they are found in bipolar I disorder.
Bipolar III Disorder
A type of bipolar that is characterized by rapid cycling.
Bipolar IV Disorder
Bipolar disorder exists alongside other mental health conditions.
Cyclothymic disorder is a mild form of bipolar disorder. The highs and lows are much more mild and do not occur at a very high frequency.
Bipolar Disorder NOS (not otherwise specified)
This type is used when someone experiences more depressive episodes than manic — and when they don’t fit any other type.
What Causes Bipolar Disorder? Who is at Risk?
Research shows us that many different factors can put people at risk for developing manic depressive disorder. Below are a few of the factors that may contribute to a diagnosis of the condition.
Those with an immediate family member who has a diagnosis, such as a parent or sibling, may be at greater risk.
There appears to be a common link in brain structure and function for all of those who have a bipolar diagnosis.
Individuals who have been diagnosed with another mental health condition, such as generalized anxiety disorder or major depression, are more likely to be diagnosed with bipolar disorder, too.
Substance use, poor sleep patterns, high-stress levels, and more may all increase the risk.
Keep in mind that these risk factors are not definitive. For instance, while there may be evidence that genetics can contribute, it does not mean that someone who has a close familial connection to someone with bipolar disorder will definitely have the condition. And, just because you have a mental health condition does not mean you absolutely will get another.
How is Manic Depressive Disorder Diagnosed?
While you may be able to recognize symptoms that appear like manic depressive disorder may be at play, a true diagnosis is needed. And that means enlisting the help of a mental health professional.
Bipolar disorder is often diagnosed in late teens or early adulthood, but it is not uncommon for signs to appear in younger children, as well.
A thorough interview will be conducted to discuss the concerns — especially as they relate to mania and depressive symptoms. If they are severe enough to disrupt daily life, a bipolar diagnosis may be warranted.
The diagnostic criteria include requiring that the individual experience mania and depression simultaneously or manic episodes that last for at least one week.
Once a diagnosis is confirmed, treatment options can then be discussed.
Treatment for Manic Depressive Disorder
Sometimes the heaviness of the symptoms that come with manic depressive disorder can be overwhelming. And feeling normal again can seem out of reach. Thankfully, it’s not. Treatment is available that will allow you to get symptoms under control so that you can feel like yourself once again.
So, what does treatment for bipolar look like?
You can expect treatment to be very personalized. However, it will often consist of some sort of psychotherapy as well as medication. Working with a therapist can help clients develop the coping skills necessary to better handle their manic and depressive episodes. While there is no specific medication available that will address the episodes specifically, antipsychotics can help with mania while antidepressants help with depression.
Working closely with your mental health and medical team is the best way to get the most successful treatment.
Treat Manic Depressive Disorder at Amend Treatment
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Contact us today to learn more!