Manic depressive disorder, also known as bipolarism, is a psychological condition that causes unusual shifts in mood and behavior. Little understood and often difficult to diagnose, the condition can wreak havoc on patients' lives without proper management, causing severe mood swings, energy shifts, and behavioral changes. There is no real cure for manic depressive disorder, though through therapy, lifestyle changes, and medication, many patients are able to manage the condition.
The cause of manic depressive disorder remains unknown. Believed to be a result of unusual brain chemistry, the disorder often co-exists with related syndromes. Some studies have also shown a connection between manic depressive disorder and thyroid malfunction or migraines. There is also some evidence that shows that the condition may be genetic in nature.
The most characteristic symptom of manic depressive disorder is the presence of large swings in mood and behavior often called manic or depressive episodes. A manic episode is characterized by blazes of energy, jumpiness, restlessness, and impulsive behavior. Though often irritable and wired during a manic episode, some people may become hyperactive, completing goals or tasks at overwhelming speeds. Some may also experience a dangerous rise in impulsiveness, that can lead to making seriously risky decisions.
A depressive episode can manifest as exhaustion or fatigue, listlessness, worry, and loss of interest in daily activities. People experiencing a depressive episode may feel physically incapable of completing even basic tasks, even if they want to be productive. Suicidal thoughts and attempts are not uncommon in severe cases.
Although these are the extremes of the condition, many people experience fewer symptoms or even mixed symptoms that combine aspects of mania and depression. In particularly severe cases, hallucinations can occur, leading a person to believe he or she is invincible, or has absolutely nothing wrong even in the face of evidence. These psychotic symptoms may result in a misdiagnosis of schizophrenia or another psychotic condition. Misdiagnosis can lead to terrible consequences, as medicating for the wrong condition may worsen the effects of mood episodes.
There are many forms of manic depressive disorder, meaning that excellent diagnosis and attentive treatment are critical parts of managing the condition. Since people with the manic depressive disorder also have high rates of alcoholism and drug addiction, and some patients also have signs of post traumatic stress disorder and attention deficit hyperactive disorder, a comprehensive psychological diagnosis should be made before treatment progresses. With proper care, many people with manic depressive disorder learn to manage their conditions and may suffer fewer episodes.