Manic Depression

Manic depression is one of the more common mental ailments where the symptoms are fairly easy to spot, but the treatments may be difficult to deliver if the person experiencing them does not realize what is happening. However, it is a condition that is treatable and many who suffer go on to lead normal lives. In fact, there have been many people who have gone on to make great accomplishments all while suffering from manic depression. So, if the symptoms can be controlled, a normal life is more than possible.

What Causes Manic Depression?

Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut cause for this particular condition, although genetics does seem to play a very important role as up to 80% of those who are diagnosed with manic depression had family members with the same condition. In studies with identical twins, if one was diagnosed with the condition, it was highly likely that the other would be as well. This is far more than compared to fraternal twins although the studies have been limited in nature.

Other causes include environmental ones that assist in the development of the condition, although the person must be pre-disposed in order to develop it. Upwards of 50% of adults diagnosed with manic depression suffered from traumatic abuse as children, though it is not known if this is an actual cause or more likely a condition that helps set off the manic depressive state that already exists.

There are physiological conditions such as the structure of the brain itself that may lead to being more vulnerable to developing manic depression over time. It’s possible that the physiological conditions combined with environmental could cause a person to become manic depressive. Neurological conditions such as those suffered from a brain injury, stroke, porphyria, multiple sclerosis and even temporal lobe epilepsy and HIV infection may create the conditions for the manic depressive state to exist.

Symptoms of Manic Depression 

Also called bipolar disorder, manic depression affects millions of people around the word. It is a disorder that is characterized by large swings in moods from elation to depression. When the mood is elevated, it is called a manic state or mania where the person feels unusually happy, irritable or even very energetic. It is during these times that they often make poor decisions that have little thought to the consequences that might occur. It is also during this time of mania that they will feel less need for sleep and may speak rapidly as well which is an indication that they are having difficulty expressing their thoughts.

It’s fairly common for those who suffer from the manic state to have substance abuse issues as many of them strive to continue the feelings that they are experiencing. When going to extreme levels, the mania can create conditions of psychosis which pulls the victim away from reality. This can lead to delusions of grandeur or feelings of being unstoppable that may also create hallucinations as well. Quite often, such states will lead to hospitalization due to injury or experiencing behaviors that are violent to the extreme.

The subsequent depression may start with not making eye contact with other, negative feelings towards their outlook on life and crying uncontrollably. It is during this time that the risk of suicide goes up considerably as well as causing physical harm to themselves. Symptoms may also include anxiety disorder, more substance abuse issues and the following;

  • Anxiety, anger and hopelessness
  • Sadness, loss of appetite, no joy in activities of interest
  • Difficulty in concentrating, self-loathing, and apathy
  • Social anxiety, lack of motivation, and suicidal thoughts

There are a number of other symptoms as well, but they are all tied into the depressive state that those with manic depression will experience. In really severe cases, psychosis may develop along the lines of the manic state where delusions and occasionally hallucinations will be experienced. Also, a major state of depression may set in that stays around for over two weeks and up to six months if not treated.

Treatment of Manic Depression

Currently, there are no known preventative measures that work consistently as those who develop this condition often show few signs before it becomes problematic. However, for those who have been diagnosed there are treatments available that will help control the symptoms.

Psychosocial: This type of behavioral treatment helps alleviate the symptoms by recognizing the triggers for the manic depression state and taking action before it can have a detrimental effect. This means going into a state that reduces the overall effect that the condition will have on the person. It is not really preventative, but it is effective in toning down what the person suffering from this condition feels so that they are in a more manageable state. The treatments include family-focused and cognitive behavioral therapy that brings about greater chances of leveling the emotions that are being felt.

However, instituting such treatments may be difficult if an acute attack is experience. When this occurs, other steps may need to be taken in order to bring the person back under control.

Prescribed Medications: In many cases lithium is prescribed for those with manic depression as it is highly effective in treating the more violent episodes and helps prevent relapses as well. The use of lithium will reduce the chances of self-harm, suicide and other actions that may lead to the harm or death of the person suffering from this condition.

In addition, there are other medications such as Carbamazepine, Lamotrigine and Topiramate that may also help in controlling the conditions of someone who is manic depressive.

Overall, the symptoms and cause and treatment of manic depression often combines medication with psychosocial actions that help the person remain calm and head off the more severe mental states that they otherwise would experience. It is vital that a person be diagnosed as early as possible if they suffer from manic depression and get the proper treatment. In a large majority of cases, those who get the treatment they need go on to lead normal lives.

About Jason

As "The Man That Men Will Talk To," Jason Fierstein, MA, LPC is a private practice counselor and psychotherapist for men and couples in the greater Phoenix, Arizona, area. He works with struggling men to find happiness in their lives, and with their wives.
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