Manic depression is a mental health disorder that today is more commonly referred to as bipolar disorder. It's characterized by drastic shifts in mood and energy levels, sometimes throughout the day, other times over the course of a week. The symptoms often are severe, and people who are not getting adequate treatment may have difficulty carrying out day-to-day functions.
Manic depression, which often runs in families, usually first occurs during the late teenage or early adult years. The disorder can be difficult to diagnose at first, as the symptoms may be misidentified as features of another condition or problem.
Symptoms of Manic Depression
The characteristic that distinguishes manic depression from other psychiatric disorders is the frequent fluctuations in mood from highs to lows. When experiencing a “high,” for example, the person might seem incredibly happy, jumpy or excitable. This can swing very quickly to extreme agitation and irritability. Then, just as quickly, the person can experience an incredible “low” mood, barely able to get out of bed, feeling depressed and possibly contemplating suicide. People with manic depression may feel so down that they have trouble with memory or making decisions. These highs and lows can range from mild to extreme and vary from person to person, as does the rate at which someone fluctuates between the two.
Though it seems like a difficult diagnosis, the reality is that manic depression can be treated, and many with the disorder live healthy, productive lives by managing their condition. The mainstay of treatment for manic depression is typically some combination of medication and therapy. A variety of medications and therapies have proven effective for manic depression, so the best approach is to work closely with doctors to find the right approach for each individual.
SOURCES: U.S. National Institute of Mental Health; Helpguide