What is manic depression (bipolar disorder)?

Manic depression is the oldest term of what we call today “Bipolar Disorder”. It is about a disorder of mood, which is featured by periods of hyperactivity with excessively high mood (the patient does not sleep, speaks very fast, his thoughts run, he spends too much, he appears sexually hyperactive, etc.), which alternate with completely opposite periods of intense despair and sorrow.

In this disorder, the major depressive disorder alternates with mania, which may last for days or weeks, while there are cases where periods of recession, which are called normothymia, may occur between periods of mania and depression. The individual ranges from one pole of disorder (depression) to the other (mania) with rapid and unpredictable alternations. Precisely because of this alternation, it was called bipolar disorder.

It is wrong to confuse this disorder with the individual’s incompetence to regulate his reactions, as it is a condition which is mainly related to the brain and its functions and not some inability to coordinate the individual.

TYPES OF BIPOLAR DISORDER

The way in which bipolar disorder occurs, differs from one to another, as it is possible that someone will experience only episodes of mania or depression. Some people get rapidly out of one state or the other, alternating between the two aforementioned symptoms.

Typically it is divided to two types:

Bipolar disorder type I: it is characterized by the appearance of manic episodes with or without a major depressive episode.

Bipolar disorder type II: it is characterized by at least one depressive episode with or without a hypomanic episode

WHICH ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF BIPOLAR DISORDER?

  • Extremely good mood
  • Irritability
  • Reduced need of sleep
  • Increased energy and activity
  • Too much talking, hyperactivity and excessive sexuality
  • Competitive relations
  • Disturbed decision-making ability
  • Megalomania
  • Ease of distraction

Who is affected by bipolarity?

Unfortunately, manic depression does not distinguish or make exceptions among population. Thus, women, men and children can be diagnosed with bipolarity at some point in their lives.

Nevertheless, we can distinguish some of the most vulnerable teams:

  1. Family history is the first element, which can ring the bell of danger. If a member of your family had shown bipolar disorder, you too are at risk.
  2. Intense stressful conditions, such as the death of a beloved person, an unwanted divorce or situations which evoke intense feelings, can easily push someone into an outbreak of a bipolar episode.
  3. Drug and alcohol abuse, in continuous doses and for many years may lead to bipolar disorder.

Bipolar Disorder and Confrontation

In addition to medication, psychotherapeutic intervention is also of great importance in treating bipolar disorder. The duration, frequency and type of psychotherapy depends on the individual’s needs. The most known psychotherapeutic approaches of bipolar disorder are the following:

  • Cognitive psychotherapy, where the patient under the psychologist’s guidance learns to modify any dysfunctional thoughts that may obstruct him and replace them with more functional ones.
  • Systemic family psychotherapy where the family system learns how it has contributed to the appearance of the symptom and is called to seek, as a whole, a different mode of function.

Among the ways of dealing with bipolar disorder, psychoeducation has a key role. Through psychoeducation both the family and the individual themselves are called to understand the disease, the symptoms as well as the best way to manage it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will I ever feel better or my whole life will go like this?

The answer in this question is difficult, because the patient helps himself, in order to control the disease in every uncontrolled episode. There can be no healing in bipolarity, however an effective treatment may offer the individual a good standard of living, even up to create a family. Besides, one may not show any episodes of mania or depression for a long time.

Do I need to go to a hospital?

Manic depression is a disease, which is basically treated normally by the individual himself from the very first moment of its diagnosis. If episodes of mania or depression are intense, this may make the individual unable to calm down. Then, he may need to be hospitalized in order to regain control of his situation.

Should I hide that I suffer from bipolar disorder?

It depends on your character and temperament. If you are in the beginning of a relationship, then the decision is yours regarding the time you will reveal it. As far as your family is concerned, things are clearer, as they need to know everything you care and think about. Family is also the one who will give you the proper support and help.

Are there any tips that will make me feel better?

Yes. You may follow the following tips:

  1. Ensure a stable sleep schedule and follow it
  2. Form your activities in a way, that you can follow them effortlessly.
  3. Avoid alcohol abuse and smoking
  4. Tell your family what you care about and how you feel.
  5. Read books and researches on bipolar disorder. In this way, you will be able to recognize the signs of mania or depression each time they appear.