What is Manic Depression?

 21st Aug 2017

How many times have you described yourself as manic or having had a manic day?

Whilst the word has come to mean frantically busy, mania is a psychological state characterised wild, over excited or deranged behaviour.

Manic Depression, or Bipolar Disorder to use its correct term, is a form of mental health issue where the individual experiences extreme mood swings.

This means that the individual could experience depression (low mood) or mania for days or weeks at a time before ‘swinging’ the other way.

However the swing isn’t always as extreme as one may assume. Many individuals experience a gradual adjustment as well as period of feeling ‘normal’ before the next cycle begins.

As with most mental health issues, living with bipolar disorder is different for everyone and therefore the patterns aren’t always the same. Some people experience either rapid cycling or mixed state dipolar depression.

Rapid Cycling

This is where a person repeatedly swings from a high to low phase quickly without really experiencing a ‘normal’ period in between.

Mixed State

People with mixed state bipolar disorder experience symptoms of depression and mania together such as over activity with a depressed mood.


Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

Individuals with bipolar disorder can experience a range of symptoms which include challenges you would expect to find with mild depression through to severe issues such as suicidal thoughts or taking actions that put the person at risk.

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Needless to say not everyone will experience all of these symptoms but the lists below provide a good overview of what to do be aware of.


During a period of depression, your symptoms may include:

  • feeling sad, hopeless or irritable most of the time
  • lacking energy
  • difficulty concentrating and remembering things
  • loss of interest in everyday activitiesfeelings of emptiness or worthlessness
  • feelings of guilt and despair
  • feeling pessimistic about everything
  • self-doubt
  • being delusional, having hallucinations and disturbed or illogical thinking
  • lack of appetite
  • difficulty sleeping
  • waking up early
  • suicidal thoughts


The manic phase of bipolar disorder may include:

  • feeling very happy, elated or overjoyed
  • talking very quickly
  • feeling full of energy
  • feeling self-important
  • feeling full of great new ideas and having important plans
  • being easily distracted
  • being easily irritated or agitated
  • being delusional, having hallucinations and disturbed or illogical thinking
  • not feeling like sleeping
  • not eating
  • doing things that often have disastrous consequences – such as spending large sums of money on expensive and sometimes unaffordable items
  • making decisions or saying things that are out of character and that others see as being risky or harmful


Living with Bipolar Disorder

Living with bipolar disorder is living with a condition of extremes however it is common for individuals with the condition to go for years without a diagnosis.

Whilst they will experience the same kind of mood swings as others with the issue, they may attempt to excuse their behaviour, blaming it on works stress, environmental factors or even the conduct of others.

It’s not uncommon for others to become the perceived subject of the individual’s ire whilst they are in a manic of depression cycle simply because they don’t know what’s happening to them.

Considering the frequency and severity of the attacks varies from person to person it’s not that surprising that some people go undiagnosed for a long time or indefinitely. In some cases the individual is actually experiencing cyclothymia, a more mild form of the disorder.

The unpredictable nature and potential severity of bipolar disorder means that maintaining relationships and employment can be difficult. Unfortunately there is also an increased risk of suicide.

In some cases an episode will provoke hallucinations (seeing, hearing or smelling things that aren’t there) or delusions (believing in irrational thoughts). These form what’s broadly categorised as psychotic episodes.

Whilst not exclusively linked to bipolar disorder it is common and something family and friends should be particularly aware of, especially if there is concern over a loved one’s behaviour.


Seeking Help

If you believe you or someone you know has bipolar disorder it’s important to get help as soon as possible. Getting a diagnosis allows you to access a host of services designed to help you cope with those challenges.

If the condition is enduring and poorly managed, organisations like ours may be asked to support you. But first and foremost either self-refer to your local mental health team or see your GP – depending on which part of the country you live in.

If you are concerned you have bipolar disorder, or any mental health issue, it’s important you tell the people closest to you so they can offer you emotional support.

This is important because even if the diagnosis is confirming something you already suspect it’s a life changing realisation. But the positive is that you’ll be able to get the professional support you need.


Encompass Dorset supports individuals with enduring mental health issues. If you would like to speak to one of our team about this issue or something else, contact us today. Alternatively, learn more about our services by click here.

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