Manic depression, or bipolar illness, is a mood disorder. People who suffer from manic depression have mood swings from severe depression to extreme highs or "mania." There generally are periods of normal moods in between the two extremes. Sometimes these mood swings are dramatic and rapid, but most often swings are gradual. The nature and severity of this disorder varies with the individual person.
Manic depression generally strikes before the age of 35. Nearly 1 in 100 people will suffer from this disorder at some point in their lives.
Signs of Manic Depression
Periods of depression are characterized by:
- Increase or decrease in appetite and weight
- Sleep disturbance; sleeping too little or sleeping too much in an irregular pattern
- Loss of energy; excessive fatigue or tiredness
- Decreased sexual drive
- Decreased ability to think, concentrate or remember
- Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt, which may become unreasonable
- Recurrent thoughts of death or self-harm, wishing to be dead, or thinking of or attempting suicide
- Aches, pains, constipation that cannot otherwise be explained
Periods of mania are characterized by:
- Persistent high or irritable mood states
- Appetite disturbance
- Decreased need for sleep, at times for days
- Increased sexuality
- Rapid speech, at times being incoherent
- Racing thoughts that result in disorganized speech
- Loss of self control and judgment; this can result in impulsive shopping sprees, can range to grand delusions of ability, strength or other prowess
- The individual is easily distracted
If you or someone you know appears to suffer from the signs of manic depression, call for help.