Manic Depression manifests itself mainly through behavioral and mood symptoms that can be classified into two opposite sets. One set involves symptoms of a very elated, or "high," state, while the opposite set involves a very depressed or "low" state. These two symptom sets demonstrate themselves in a continuous range, classified by experts into mild to moderate to severe, in both opposing symptom sets.
The National Institute of Mental Health lists many of the symptoms of Manic Depression. Many of them are mood symptoms, while others involve physical abnormalities and psychological instabilities. The following are some of the more commonly identified symptoms associated with the manic ("high") phase.
Mood changes during a manic phase
An individual suffering from a manic phase almost always feels excessively good, and maintains an unusually euphoric mood. These individuals often find themselves talking and thinking very quickly, sometimes jumping from one thought to the next. This behavior is noticeably different from the individual's normal disposition, and lasts for an abnormally long time.
Sufferers may also feel very irritable, and may result in provocative, aggressive, or intrusive behavior. They may deny that anything is wrong with them, and may even accuse others of conspiring against them. They basically believe that they are invincible and powerful, even to the point of absurdity.
Physical changes during a manic phase
Individuals suffering from a manic phase generally feel restless and excitable, and may display levels of energy unusual to the person. They often engage in activity, no matter what it might be, and may quickly tire and look for other things to do.
These individuals may also need little sleep to maintain their energy levels during the day. A heightened interest and drive towards sexual relations may also be evident.
Psychological changes during a manic phase
Sufferers are easily distracted, preventing them from working or learning effectively. They also exhibit reduced judgment skills, which may result in spending sprees and substance abuse. Some individuals have been noted to resort to cocaine, alcohol, and sleeping medication abuse while in a manic phase.
Conversely, the depressive ("low") phase displays symptoms that are polar opposites from the ones enumerated above, although they can fall into the same rough categories:
Mood changes during a depressive phase
In contrast to a manic phase, a depressive phase causes an individual to suddenly feel hopeless and pessimistic. The sufferer may also feel unexplained pangs of guilt and worthlessness. It is a sad, scared, or otherwise empty mood that lasts for a time.
Physical changes during a depressive phase
A person going through a major depressive phase almost always feels tired or being "slowed down." The individual loses sleep (or the opposite, gets too much), as well as any interest he/she used to have for activities normally enjoyed, even sex.
The individual also suffers changes in appetite, often resulting in unintended gain or loss of weight. Pain and other persistent physical symptoms may also accompany the general discomfort of a depressive phase, even though there is no sign of any underlying illness or injury to cause it.
Psychological changes during a depressive phase
Individuals suffering from a depressive phases suffer from difficulty in concentrating, memory, and decision-making. They are also restless and irritable, and may lead to conflicts with co-workers and peers. This is also a symptom of the manic phase, effectively making sufferers very unfit to work during an episode.
The most serious psychological symptom involves thoughts of death or suicide. Sufferers of Manic Depression have committed suicide before, making the mental disorder a very serious social problem as well.
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