Manic depression is also known as bipolar affective disorder, or simply bipolar. It is a form of mood disorder in which the subject suffers wide mood swings between extreme elation (mania) and extremely low depression. It is a serious condition that first occurs in either gender at the age of 18-24. The condition can be triggered by medical illness or stress.
What are the symptoms of manic depression, and how can it be distinguished from general depression? The first sign is that the depression involved is more than just feeling temporarily down, but is deeper and more serious than that. The subject is unable to cope with normal everyday problems and the depressive state lasts longer.
Symptoms of the Depressive State
Here are a few other symptoms that you can expect to be exhibited by a manic depressive:
- The depression and feeling of unhappiness remains and can't be shrugged off.
- The subject will lose interest in what is going on around, and will feel no enjoyment about anything.
- A feeling of guilt and excessive worthlessness.
- Unable to make decisions.
- Unable to focus or concentrate on anything.
- Sleeping excessively or an inability to sleep.
- General tiredness.
- A disinterest in sex.
- An inability to handle crows of people.
- Unable to function at work.
- Unable to see any future.
- Restlessness and fidgeting.
There are others, and most of the above are also symptoms of general depression. However, what distinguished someone suffering clinical depression and somebody with bipolar affective disorder is the rapid swing from the depressed state to elation, otherwise known as mania. So what are the symptoms of the manic state that distinguished between general depression and manic depression?
Symptoms of the Manic State
Having been depressed, the patient can then spend a week or so in a hyper manic state. Sometimes the subject will behave strangely and lose any sense of reality. They will be unable to make proper decisions, and in fact behave in strange ways that are both embarrassing and dangerous. Some of the outward signs of the manic state are:
- An apparent lack of sleep.
- An exceptionally good mood - a euphoric state where they have a profound sense of well-being within themselves.
- They will talk quicker and louder than normal, and try to keep up with their racing thoughts.
- They may come out with unattainable grandiose ideas that are unrealistic to achieve.
- A lack of inhibitions that may lead them to very inappropriate behaviour well outside their normal character.
- Euphoric delusions and sometimes even hallucinations that underline their excessive believe in themselves.
- Increased sexual drive, and an increased need to spend money quickly.
- Very dogmatic, provocative and aggressive, particularly when people disagree with them.
In fact, the manic state is practically the diametric opposite of their character in the depressed state. It is a form of Jekyll and Hyde situation, though not in the sense of schizophrenia where mood changes are not associated with the accompanying depressive or manic states. Also, manic depressives can go long periods between bouts of depression and mania. Nevertheless, the two have occasionally been misdiagnosed as the other.
Treatment for Manic Depression
The traditional treatment for the depressive aspect of manic depression is by antidepressant drugs, while manic episodes are treated using antipsychotic medication. Medication that helps to stabilize mood may also be used, examples of these being Valium and Tegretol. However, the treatment most commonly given in this respect is lithium.
Each of the various drugs have side effects, and it makes sense to use one or more of the natural herbal treatments that have been shown to be at least as effective as the drugs above with a minimum of half of the adverse side effects. Here are some herbal treatments that have been successfully used in treating manic depression, or bipolar disorder.
Herbal Treatment for Manic Depression
Herbs are used by many people to treat their manic depression, often because they could not tolerate the side effects of the regular drugs or perhaps because of a distrust of artificial drugs. Whatever their reason, they do take them, even though most are not as effective a regular drugs and take longer to be absorbed into the body and to have an effect.
Here are some typical; herbs that are used for manic depression. Keep in mind that there are two aspects of dipolar affective disorder: the depressive and the manic stages, and any remedy or treatment must deal with each of these. A herb that can help with depression (there are several of these) may not be able to handle the manic behavior of the subject.
It has been reported by the University Of Maryland Medical Center that herbs are effective treatment for depression and have fewer side effects, but not much mention of the manic condition.
St. John's Wort
St. John's wort is one of the most powerful herbal treatments available for depression, and is at least as good as the best prescription drugs, if not better. With significantly fewer side effects it is an excellent treatment for the depression part of manic depression. However, this is a serious condition, and while it is very effective with mild to medium depression, the severe form of depression brought about by bipolar disorder is a challenge and you must take the herbal treatment every day without fail. It might not cure the condition but it should be able to contain and stabilize it.
Amoryn is a good herbal treatment for anxiety and sadness. It contains hyperforin, also present in St. John's wort, and so has a similar effect. The main effect of hyperforin is to increase the availability of serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain. These are neurotransmitters than help you to feel good about yourself rather than depressed.
Valerian and Passion Flower
Valerian is a strong herbal treatment for insomnia, and helps those suffering stress, anxiety and depression to get to relax and get to sleep. It also works to reduce your anxiety, but should be taken every day, and at the same each day. Because it is calming valerian is good to take during the manic stage of bipolar affective disorder. Passion flower is another possible herbal treatment during this stage since it too is calming and relaxing.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
These constituents of fish oil may not strictly be herbal, but they are natural and while not a rapid solution to manic depression, it does reduce your depressive feelings over time if taken regularly.
There is no magic pill for manic depression - if there was everybody would take it and the disorder would no longer be a problem. However, there are natural remedies, most of them herbal, which can help you too feel a lot better with the potentially nasty side effects of pharmaceutical treatments.