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Manic depressive disorder or Bipolar disorder

Posted Dec 03 2012 7:24am

Manic depressive disorder is also known as Bipolar disorder, and it means exactly that – experiencing highly energetic and erratic manic sequences, followed by a wild mood swing to the opposite “pole” – a depressive period.  Manic depressive disorder is cause by chemical imbalance, and an estimated 2.6% of all Americans are affected by this disorder.  When the disorder is diagnosed in time and the appropriate treatment is prescribed and is implemented, then the condition is not that disruptive, and doesn’t interfere with everyday life of the person affected.

Thankfully, recently the stigma associated with this disease has been gradually diminished, mainly because of the fact that various public figures and celebrities loved by the public have “come out” as suffering from manic depressive disorder.  Usually, the fact that they are suffering from this disorder becomes known after news about problems with substance abuse, eating disorders, suicide attempts, and other depression related acts, and strange or scary behavior come out.  Often, it is only when these people have seeked treatment in a rehab of some sort, where they diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Some celebrities who suffer from Manic depressive disorder:

Lark Voorhie – the star from “Saved by the bell” and Jessie Jackson Jr. have gone public with their condition. Demi Lovato who found out she had the disorder after spending three months in rehab for eating disorders and cutting (self-inflicted cuts) and depression.  Catherine Zeta-Jones – the beautiful Welsh actress and wife of Michael Douglas has undergone treatment for bipolar disorder and now publicly defends people affected by the disorder stating they shouldn’t hide and suffer silently by themselves, and be hush-hush about it.

Action actor Jean Claude Van Damme has also admitted being treated with medicaments for his bipolar disorder.  Reality star Amber Portwood has publicly suffered many ups and downs, and was finally diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2008. Carrie Fisher has also been very public with her bipolar disorder, which has caused her to undergo several hospitalizations and rehabilitation therapies.

“Nothing compares to you” Irish singer Sinead O’Connor who also passed through some very erratic public phases and moments through the years, and who has confessed taking steps to treat the manic depressive disorder changed her life. Oscar winner Patty Duke even wrote a memoir about her disorder, called: “A brilliant madness: Living with manic-depressive illness”


Causes and symptoms of manic depressive disorder

Both the manic and the depressive swings are dangerous for the person suffering. Mania can bring along hallucinations, delusions, psychosis, rage from paranoia, whilst the depression can lead to suicidal thoughts, self inflicted cutting, substance abuse, eating disorders, etc.

These two very different moods will swing from one to the other in a matter of hours and even minutes. They are unexpected, and are quite difficult to handle by the people around the bipolar person. These mood swings and the manic depressive disorder as a whole often affects the person’s thinking, leading him to delusional and distorted perceptions, as well as their sociability – often leading to social dysfunction.

The causes of manic depressive disorder are genetic, it is actually hereditary.

The bipolar disorder usually appears in a the teenage years and in early adolescence, rarely are small children or elderly people diagnosed with this disturbing condition, but unfortunately, once diagnosed, the person will remain bipolar their whole life.

2.6% of the adult population in the US is diagnosed with bipolar disorder annually. Currently about 6 million people in the USA are diagnosed with manic depressive disorder. When treated  properly, the disorder can be managed, and the symptoms may disappear and remissions will be less likely. In some cases, the mood swings and symptoms will allow the person affected to continue with their normal life, but in severe cases, the manic and depressive periods will be so severe, that serious treatment and hospitalization might be necessary, so that the affected people don’t hurt someone or themselves.

The typical depression symptoms are as in any other form of depression:

  • Feeling down, hopeless and sorry for oneself;
  • A decrease or increase in appetite – weight loss or weight gain;
  • Lack of concentration, inability to remember and to make decisions;
  • Pessimistic feelings of hopelessness and suicidal thoughts and attempts;
  • Disturbance of the normal sleeping pattern – insomnia or oversleeping;
  • Lack of interest in things that usually were enjoyed – everyday hobbies, people and sex;
  • Some physical symptoms may include headaches or other persistent pain, stomach problems;

The mania episodes will consist of the following symptoms:

  • An increase of the libido.
  • Overblown notions of greatness.
  • Inappropriate behavior in public.
  • Irresponsible and erratic actions.
  • Extreme and unexplained irritability or euphoria.
  • A boost in the energy.
  • Increased talkativeness and louder speaking.
  • Lack of reasonable judgment.
  • Insomnia.

Seeking professional help is crucial for people who have symptoms of bipolar disorder, because in a majority of the cases, people suffering from these “highs”” and “lows” try to self-medicate themselves, and often succumb into substance abuse, which can often worsen the symptoms and may even be fatal.

Doctors are optimistic about managing manic depressive disorder – when diagnosed in time, and handled properly, bipolar disorder is considered one of the most treatable conditions in our time.

To be treated properly and managed, so that a person can lead a normal life, it is of key importance that the disorder is properly diagnosed as early as possible. For this to happen, the person affected must be very open with the therapist and their family and friends.  A strong support from all involved is necessary.  The doctor will assess the severity and specifics of the case and will prescribe medication, which may or may not need to be altered, changed. It is often a trial and error experience until the symptoms are fully managed, because each case of manic depressive disorder has its own specifics. It will take some time, until the symptoms are reduced and eventually disappear, so patience and persistence is required from both the patient and those around him or her. Of course, to stay well, the person with manic depressive disorder should lead a healthy lifestyle and stay away from alcohol or drug abuse, eat well and sleep well too.

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