How Manic Depression Is More Than Just Depression (It Could Be Worse.)

How Manic Depression Is More Than Just Depression (It Could Be Worse.)
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Your alarm didn’t go off and you’re late for work.

Accounting had a glitch in the system and your check wasn’t deposited.

Your best friend told you at the last minute you’re not invited to her wedding.

Ouch.

Everyone has bad days. And it’s normal to feel angry, upset and really bummed out for awhile.

Depending on how severe the issue is, such as a death in the family, it’s totally appropriate to go through a grieving period and maybe even a bout with .

But what if it’s different? What if what you or a loved one is going through isn’t depression, but depression?

Depression is depression, right? Wrong.

It’s really easy to confuse manic depression with clinical depression — especially since both terms contain the word “depression.”[1]

Someone suffering with clinical depression experiences really low points, extreme sadness, easily cries, has no interest in fun activities, zero energy and basically just feels hopeless.

However, someone with manic depression not only has to fight clinical depression, they also have times when they’re really happy and feel on top of the world. Yet, they also have racing thoughts, talk too fast, get little sleep and can become easily irritated.

Because manic depression includes clinical depression, it’s easy to see how the two often get mixed up. To minimize confusion, manic depression is now known as bipolar disorder. According to Psych Central:

Bipolar disorder, also known in some parts of the world by its older name of “manic depression,” is a mental disorder that is characterized by serious and significant mood swings. A person with this condition experiences alternating “highs” (what clinicians call “mania“) and “lows” (also known as depression). [2]

Manic depression affects more people than you may realize.

Before you dismiss manic depression as “another person’s problem,” someone you know be battling this disorder. In fact, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, millions of adult Americans are affected each year, which turns out to be about 2.6% of the population. [3] Because so many people are dealing with it and the numbers continue to grow, it’s important to understand as much as possible about this disorder.

Also, dealing with a friend or family member can be tough if you don’t know what to expect or how to proceed with their highs and lows. Manic depression can cause lots of strain on all relationships. People with this disorder experience such dramatic ups and downs, that it can be a huge shock for someone that’s unfamiliar with manic depression. A manic episode can cause people to behave erratically, act on impulse, be abusive and exercise risky behavior. Even worse, sometimes these people are so overwhelmed that they can lose touch with reality, to the point they show signs of psychotic behavior. [4]

Are you at risk? 3 clues to follow.

While it’s not entirely clear as to why people develop manic depression, there are multiple factors that have been linked to the disorder, including: [5]

  • Genetics – Though not proven, it appears that manic depression can run in families, particularly if there’s a history of mental health issues. Studies also show that a child’s risk of developing manic depression can increase by about 10 to 15 percent if one parent suffers with the disorder. And if both parents are diagnosed, the child’s risk can increase by 30 to 40 percent.
  • Neurochemical Factors – When someone has manic depression, there’s mainly a biological disorder in the brain. This disorder is the result of dysfunctional neurotransmitters. While this biological disorder can remain dormant, sometimes it can activate on its own or by certain triggers, like stress.
  • The Environment – People deal with social situations, life events and stress in different manners. Depending on a person’s genetic disposition, they may be susceptible to developing manic depression from some form of environmental stress. In addition, drugs and alcohol can also cause a person to demonstrate manic behavior.

Breaking it down further.

Within the manic depression/bipolar disorder diagnosis, there are two types: Type 1 bipolar disorder and Type 2 bipolar disorder. [6]

When someone has Type 1 bipolar disorder, they have depressive episodes as well as full-on, all-out manic episodes, which last at least a week and can look like this:

  • Over-the-top happiness
  • Uncontrollable thoughts or speech
  • Signs of narcissism
  • Risky behavior
  • Aggressiveness
  • Bad decision-making with money or relationships

These traits can be so extreme that the person, can end up in the hospital.

Type 2 bipolar disorder is similar to Type 1, but it’s just less severe and people don’t have to be hospitalized.

There are ways to cope.

For people suffering with manic depression, or if you’re trying to help a loved one, there are ways to cope and live a balanced lifestyle. Oftentimes, a combination of psychotherapy and medication can drastically improve a person’s quality of life. In addition, there are other ways to manage this diagnosis, such as: [7]

  • Diet and exercise – Studies show that exercise and a healthy diet can do so much for physical as well as mental health. Carve out some time to take a walk and eat a good meal to help improve your mood.
  • Seek out family and friends – There’s nothing like a good support system, and it’s good to start with those closest to you. Sometimes just having an ear to listen is enough to help brighten your day.
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs – If you want to stabilize your mood, don’t alter it with recreational drugs and alcohol. For some people, drugs and alcohol can trigger a manic episode.
  • Minimize stress – If there’s anything you can get out of your life that’s causing you stress, do so immediately. The best way to manage some of your manic episodes is to avoid situations that stress you.
  • Keep learning – Be sure to stay up to date on news in the mental health community. This way, you’ll always be in the know on latest developments that could benefit you.

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

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