Home > Types of Depression > Bipolar and Manic Depression

Bipolar and Manic Depression

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 3 May 2014 | comments*Discuss
Depression Bipolar Condition Illness

Bipolar illness also known as manic depression disorder, is a serious medical condition that is responsible for drastic changes in moods. These changes usually prevent a person from functioning in a healthy manner. Many people experience various ups and downs through daily life but these are the normal shifts of mood that don't stop functioning and are not steadily persistent.

Bipolar disorder is also commonly seen alongside other mental health disorders such as anxiety. The actual term 'bipolar' represents the two sides or 'poles' of a person's mood. On one side is the low mood of depression and on the other is the high mood known as 'mania.' A person will experience mood swings, which involve a flip from a low mood to a high one, and vice versa. These swings can vary from mild to severe and include characteristic cognitive patterns and behaviours.

Common Symptoms

The symptoms of bipolar disorder involve two separate phases: the manic phase and the depressive phase.

Manic Phase

During the manic phase, symptoms tend to be those of extreme excitability and elevated moods. A person will often be overly talkative, to the point that others have difficulty understanding the person. They are also very hyperactive and may even be agitated. Other signs of mania include:

  • Hostility
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Compromised judgement
  • Racing thoughts
  • Overwhelming energy
  • Increased sexual drive and activity
  • Less sleep than usual

Manic episodes are usually of shorter duration than depressive ones. A depressive episode will last approximately 6 months while a manic one is about half that time. During diagnosis, a person is often diagnosed with major depression but once a manic episode is experienced, the diagnosis evolves to bipolar disorder.

Depressive Phase

During the depressive phase, a person will have a low, sad mood, often with feelings of intense helplessness and misery. They may cry a great deal, and experience anxiety, guilt and withdrawal from friends and family. Other symptoms characteristic of the depressive phase are:

  • Appetite changes
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep disorders
  • Non-specific aches and pains
  • Reduced sexual interest and activity
  • Loss of interest in once enjoyable activities


The presentation of bipolar disorder varies from one person to another. Unfortunately, if treatment is not begun, the illness can progress as time passes. Treatment is multifaceted and will depend on the frequency and severity of your manic and depressive symptoms. Medications commonly prescribed for depression include:

  • Lithium
  • Carbamazepine
  • Fluoxetine
  • Lamotrigine

Medications that may be prescribed to moderate the manic phase are:

  • Valproate
  • Carbamazepine
  • Lithium
  • Risperidone
  • Haloperidol

There are many ways to address bipolar disorder and these also involve alternative treatments and lifestyle modifications. Some of the things you can do to help stabilize bipolar disorder are:

  • Learn to sense the symptoms that trigger a mood swing and use techniques or medications to control them

  • Keep open communication with a supportive doctor

  • Read about your illness and alert family and friends to your moods

  • Adopt a healthy lifestyle, which includes a balanced diet, exercise and plenty of sleep

  • Take any medications as directed

  • Avoid stimulants such as caffeine

In addition, psychotherapy can be beneficial for treatment of bipolar disorder. Before the introduction of medications such as antidepressants and tranquilizers, psychotherapy was more commonly used to treat bipolar disorder. Many doctors now use medication as a primary treatment means and don't find psychotherapy to be needed. A comprehensive plan, however, will likely utilize both strategies to provide maximum benefit to the patient. By approaching you bipolar disorder from all angles and including medication alongside psychotherapy and lifestyle adjustments, you can experience greater control over your illness.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
i am on olanzapine.does olanzapine cause depression?have a nice day.thanks.
richard - 3-May-14 @ 4:09 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Sasha
    Re: Depression After an Abortion
    Im 8 and half weeks pregnant. I am 38 and have a 9 and 11 year old. This wasnt planed. My husband wants me to get an abortion but…
    26 July 2017
  • Nells
    Re: How to Reduce the Risks of Depression Reoccurring
    I found these article extremely useful.I was able to identify with almost everything. I was also liked…
    21 July 2017
  • Matthew
    Re: How to Rebuild Your Life After a Breakdown
    I have just finished writing myself through a prolonged period of mental illness and think that I may have come…
    20 July 2017
  • Anon
    Re: Depression After an Abortion
    I had a medical abortion today... I had the intention of keeping my pregnancy but something within me kept tugging on that thought…
    2 July 2017
  • kunjumol
    Re: Driving and Depression
    i am taking medicines for anti depression i am ok but i very nervey and memory level is not good anxiety and ,negativity the qualities…
    28 June 2017
  • less
    Re: Depression After an Abortion
    I had also an abortion ten years ago i got depressed until now because my ex wanted to abort our baby and i am so scared with my…
    26 June 2017
  • debily
    Re: How To Assert Yourself
    Hyy, I'm a student pursuing my B.tech carrier,currently in the final year of it. criticism and comments arouse out of some of my foolish…
    17 June 2017
  • Mrs P
    Re: How to Rebuild Your Life After a Breakdown
    Returning To Work After Depression Have had several depressive incidents in the past, both reactive and through…
    9 June 2017
  • Mrs P
    Re: How To Assert Yourself
    Have had several depressive incidents in the past, both reactive and through steroid side effects. In each case, once on meds have…
    9 June 2017
  • Devistated
    Re: Depression After an Abortion
    I had a medical abortion 3 weeks ago and the grief, upset, heartbreak is consuming me! I went through with it due to no support,…
    4 June 2017
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the OvercomeDepression website. Please read our Disclaimer.