What is manic depression?
Manic depression is a series of mood disorders which are characterized by recurring disturbances in moods, behaviors and thoughts.
The mood disorders consist of one or more episodes of elevated energy levels and mood with or without depressive disorders.
These elevated moods are known as mania and when they are milder they are referred to as hypomania. Manic depression usually occurs between the age bracket of 15 to 24 years and persevere throughout a person’s life.
Types of Bipolar Manic depression:
There are 3 types of bipolar manic depression. These are: Bipolar I, Bipolar II and cyclothymic disorder. Bipolar I is the most common manic depression form.
Sufferers experience one or more manic depression periods daily for at least one week. These periods result in a combination of symptoms of both mania and depression.
Bipolar II is defined by symptoms of hypomania or depression. Usually the sufferers appear to be in good moods without losing their ability to do daily routines.
Cyclothymic disorder on the other hand, is a mild form of bipolar. Its symptoms shift forth and back from mild depression to hypomania for at least 2 years. However periods of hypomania and depression are usually less severe and short than in Bipolar I and II.
Causes of Manic depression:
There is no certain cause of manic depression however; there are theories that the problem is based on a person’s environment or life experience.
There are also suggestions that manic depression is caused by genetic factors. This means that manic depression can be inherited from one family generation to the other.
However, manic depression is considered to be a biological disorder. Environmental factors just act as triggers for symptoms.
Some the triggers of manic depression includes: sleep deprivation, seasonal changes, medication, drug abuse and stress. Some medicines such as antidepressants, appetite suppressants corticosteroids, caffeine and thyroid medicines are known to cause mania.
Sleep deprivation, even skipping few hours of rest can also trigger mania. Some people suffer from manic depression in certain seasons especially during summer and spring.
Drug abuse can also trigger episodes of mania or even worsen the course of this disease. Such drugs includes cocaine, ecstasy and tranquilizers . Stressful situations are also a major trigger of manic depression.
The situations may be good ones such as getting married or bad ones such as losing a loved one or getting fired.
Symptoms of Manic depression:
Manic depression symptoms occur in a continuous range from mild, moderate, and severe. Mania is one of the most common symptom of manic depression, which includes: increased energy and restlessness, poor judgment, severe insomnia, increased sexual desire, spending sprees, extreme irritability and denial that anything is wrong.
Depression symptoms of manic depression include: feeling of hopelessness, fatigue, decreased energy, difficulty in concentration, decreased appetite, thoughts of death or suicide attempts, loss of interest in hobbies and activities and persistent headaches and digestive disorders. Sometimes symptoms of depression and mania can occur and the same time.
Some patients of manic depression also experience hypomania symptoms. Hypomania symptoms may make the patient to feel good and even be more productive.
If hypomania is not treated well, it can lead to severe mania or even depression. Psychotic symptoms can also be experienced by some people who suffer from manic depression.
Psychotic symptoms occur in severe episodes of depression or mania. Some of the most common symptoms include: hallucination and delusions.
Diagnosis of manic depression:
Correct diagnosis is the very first step in treating manic depression. Diagnosis is usually very difficult since most of the symptoms of this type of depression are similar to other brain disorders such as major depression.
Therefore, it is necessary for the sufferer to see a good psychiatrist who has experience in the diagnosis and treatment of manic depression.
Generally, the psychiatrist or doctor makes a thorough psychiatric evaluation before arriving at a diagnosis. The evaluations involved include: medical tests, physical exam, appropriate laboratory tests and a mental exam.
It is also very important for the full history of the illness to be communicated to the psychiatrist, including changes in moods, movement, behavior and thinking as observed by close relatives, friends or the patient.
Currently, there are no physical tests for this illness. This leaves the doctor to arrive at the diagnosis after ruling out other possibilities, listening to sufferer’s symptoms, and studying the sufferer’s medical and family history.
Manic depression treatment:
There are several treatment methods that can be applied when dealing with manic depression. Self help treatment is one of these methods.
This treatment involves: seeking support from friends, family, and support groups; making healthy choices such as having healthy eating and sleeping habits; avoiding stressing situations and monitoring the symptoms.
There are also some natural approaches that can be used to treat manic depression. Herbal remedies which are specially formulated to lift the mood, reduce anxiety and optimize the nervous systems are used.
Some of the ingredients found in these herbal remedies include: skullcap and Passiflora which help in calming manic episodes. Natural approaches have several advantages such as: side effect free, safe to use even by pregnant women, and they contains no chemicals.
Another treatment option involves the prescription of medicine by a doctor. Most doctors prescribe mood stabilizer medicines such as valproate. In some cases, the doctor can also prescribe antidepressants which balance the lows and highs of manic depression.
In severe cases antidepressants are prescribed in combination with mood stabilizers to boost depressed moods. There are also some supplements that are very helpful in treating this disease.
Some of these supplements include: amino acid, vitamin B complex, zinc, magnesium, multivitamin and unsaturated fatty acids.
When taking these supplements, the patient is recommended not to take sugar, dairy products, soda and alcohol. He or she should also eat foods consisting of vegetables, fruits, nuts and legumes.
For many sufferers of manic depression, a good prognosis consequences from a good treatment. However, prognosis depends on many things such as right medication and dosage, good physical health including regular exercises and eating healthy foods.
Since manic depression has similar symptoms to most mental disorders, a good diagnosis is necessary so as to lead to good treatment and eventually a good prognosis.