Manic Depression

Manic depression is a mental health condition that causes the individual to experience intense mood swings. The person can fluctuate between periods of elation (mania) to periods of severe depression. Clinicians will tend to refer to this condition as bipolar disorder, but members of the public will still tend to refer to it as manic depression (this is the old name for this condition). This mental health problem can have a huge impact on a person’s life, but there are treatments that can help to manage the symptoms.

How is Manic Depression Diagnosed?

The usual diagnostic method, used by clinicians to determine if the individual is dealing with bipolar disorder, is for clinicians to take a history. If the individual has been experiencing mood swings over a long period of time, there will first be an attempt to find other medical explanations. The clinician will also need to determine if the person is using any medications that could be causing the mood swings. If the behaviour continues, and there is no other medical explanation, the individual will then be diagnosed as dealing with manic depression.

Treatment for Manic Depression

At present there is no cure for bipolar disorder, but the symptoms of the condition can be managed using drugs or other treatments. It is unlikely that any treatment approach will prevent the episodes of elation and depression occurring completely, but the goal is to make them occur less frequently. This can be done using mood stabilising drugs such as Lithium or Carbamazepine. The individual may also benefit from anti-depressive and anti-psychotic medication. If pharmaceutical agents do not provide control over manic depression another option will be electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).

Woman suffering from manic depression

People dealing with manic depression can differ greatly in how they experience its symptoms.

Prognosis for Manic Depression

People dealing with manic depression can differ greatly in how they experience these symptoms. In some cases the condition will be mild, and the individual can suffer episodes of elation and depression infrequently (perhaps as little as 8 episodes over the course of their life). There are other individuals who will be dealing with a more severe form of the condition, and it will mean that their life will be profoundly impacted. It is suggested that those people who first develop symptoms of manic depression in early childhood will have the worst prognosis.

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