Manic depression,or what we now call bipolar disorder, is a mental condition that drags an individual through cycles of extreme joy and sorrow. These episodes of high and low points, which can last from weeks to years, contribute to risky behavior and thoughts of suicide. Manic depression also jeopardizes social life, making it difficult to hold onto stable relationships. If someone you know has manic depression, learning about the condition will prepare you for the sudden emotional changes.
During a manic episode, an individual experiences a euphoric sense of happiness and excitement. However, her joy can quickly turn into anger and hostility. Thoughts race through her mind. In some cases, the thoughts are short, uncontrollable and unrelated, confusing her and attributing to a trapped sensation. A heightened energy level leads to insomnia.
A manic individual talks rapidly and excessively. He may be unable to control the volume of his voice. During conversation, he will reveal delusional, grandiose plans and rarely stay on a topic for long. He demonstrates poor judgment and reckless behavior. For example, he may suddenly quit his job and spend large amounts of money. Due to a heightened sex drive, he may impulsively pursue sexual relations. He feels invincible or superhuman. In severe cases, psychosis develops.
During a depressive episode, an individual experiences feelings of emptiness and sadness. Her current problems in life appear hopeless, leading to irritability and lack of concentration. A sense of exhaustion increases her need for sleep; however, insomnia may develop. She will have trouble ignoring thoughts of death or suicide.
A depressed individual cannot find enjoyment in former hobbies and interests; his sense of pleasure may be entirely lost. He may cry uncontrollably and appear lethargic. He will express a delusional sense of guilt; for example, he may blame himself for your problems, even if they are unrelated. A drastic change of appetite will lead him to gain or lose weight. In severe cases, he may attempt suicide. When the episode is over, he may find temporary stability or immediately return to mania.