Manic depression is a volatile mental disorder in which a person fluctuates between periods of deep sadness, periods of elevation and high energy. The condition is also known as bipolar disorder. The term “bipolar” was assigned to this illness because a sufferer’s emotions travel from one extreme end of the emotional pole to the other. Mental health specialists argue all the time about which name should be used. Both terms accurately depict the kind of anguish and uncertainty that a person with the disorder feels. Bipolar disorder is like a whirlwind of thoughts, feelings and changes in energy.


The positive end of the bipolar spectrum includes a mood called mania. Mania is an elevated mood in which the individual has extreme energy and racing thoughts. A person in this phase can talk on the phone for hours without stopping, create a myriad of songs, develop a new mathematical formula, or paint a house. The individual normally feels like a God of some type and will maintain this grandiose image of the self until the manic phase has ended.

Not all mania is positive. A person with manic depression can become irritable and easily angered, impulsive, and forgetful if the racing thoughts are too strong. Some people in manic episodes endanger themselves and end up in the hospital for treatment.


Depression is the other end of the spectrum. The sufferer will have an extremely low self-esteem and desire to complete the simplest tasks. He or she may miss work and family time due to the lack of energy and the overwhelming sadness. Additionally, a depressed person will isolate, due to the desire to push the rest of the world away. Many sufferers do not believe that anyone else can understand the illness, so they live reclusive lives, only coming out when they are on the hypomanic part of the pole or above.


Manic depression used to be classified in the DSM IV as a mood disorder. With the newest release of the DSM, bipolar disorder was put into a class of its own called bipolar and related disorders. It was separated from being in the same class as unipolar depression and some of the diagnostic criteria has changed. However, most of the changes were minimal. A person who is exhibiting symptoms of bipolar will still receive a diagnosis. However, the doctor might get to add some additional specifiers.

Treatment For Bipolar Disorder:

Treatment for bipolar disorder is difficult in comparison to treatment for other illnesses. Effective treatment includes a balance of several medications with some additional therapy to help the client to cope with the symptoms. Doctors can choose to use mood stabilizers, antidepressants, antipsychotics, or a combination of the three. In some cases, medics have used sleeping pills to treat bipolar disorder.

Lithium is still one of the most effective bipolar medications used today for regulating mood. It has a high success percentage, but many people do not want to use it because of the affect it has on the thyroid. When lithium is not used to balance mood, the specialist usually prescribes an antipsychotic in conjunction with an antidepressant.