Manic depression, also known as bipolar disorder, is characterized by high energy episodes followed by depressive episodes. These manic and depressive states can last anywhere between one week to a few months.
Bipolar disorder is sometimes confused with borderline personality disorder (BPD), as both conditions lead to impulsive behavior followed by depressive moods. However, one of the main differences between BPD and bipolar disorder is the length of these manic and depressive episodes.
In patients suffering from BPD, moods can change from one hour to the other. Patients with bipolar disorder can experience a manic or depressive episode for months.
If you suspect your partner’s mood changes are caused by a mental health issue, read on. We asked our expert, Dr. Gail Zimmerman, to explain the symptoms of bipolar disorder.
Manic depression 101
The causes of manic depression are unknown. Researchers believe a combination of genetics and upbringing causes it. Trauma during development is frequently found in patients who have bipolar disorder.
When an episode does occur, it may take 6-12 months for the sufferer to recover without treatment. However, therapy and medication can shorten these episodes to as little as three months. Drugs that may help include mood stabilizers and antipsychotics.
Most people with bipolar disorder can be treated on an outpatient basis. But those exhibiting severe symptoms may require hospital treatment.
Symptoms of manic and depressive episodes
During a manic episode, your loved one may experience the following:
- Impulsive behaviors (e.g., gambling and irresponsible shopping)
- High levels of energy and joy
- Overconfidence and grandiosity
- Delusions and illogical thinking
During manic episodes, many bipolar patients may skip eating due to being entrenched in a big idea or a big plan. Acting out of character is also common. Hallucinations may also accompany severe episodes of mania.
During a depressive episode, a sufferer’s moods can change completely, and they may feel lethargic, sad, hopeless, guilty, or desperate. Pessimism, lack of appetite, and, in severe cases, suicidal thoughts can also occur.
Getting a diagnosis
The first step towards getting treatment is determining the cause of the symptoms. Dr. Zimmerman offers psychiatric assessments to diagnose bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD),
After the assessment, your partner will receive an interpretation of the results along with a customized care plan to help them get better. To get a diagnosis, contact us to schedule an appointment.