Characterized by extreme highs and lows in mood, manic-depressive illness profoundly impacts a person’s thoughts, emotions and behaviors. Also referred to as bipolar disorder, this condition causes shifts in energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out daily tasks.
While we all experience ups and downs, the mood changes in manic-depression are severe and interfere significantly with life. During “up” periods or manic episodes, individuals may experience heightened energy, creativity, sociability and impulsivity. However, when mania escalates, judgment falters and risk-taking often occurs.
Conversely, “down” periods of depression may cause excessive sleeping, loss of interest in normal activities, impaired concentration and even suicidal thoughts. These cycles of mania and depression – which vary in frequency and duration individually – lead to marked distress.
What Causes Bipolar Disorder?
Research suggests brain structure, genetics and family history contribute to manic-depressive illness. Stress and traumatic life events can also precede an initial episode. Imbalances in neurotransmitters like serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine are frequently present as well.
However, the exact causal factors in the development of bipolar disorder are still unclear. Ongoing research of neurological, genetic and environmental clues seeks to further pinpoint origins and enhance treatment.
Managing Manic-Depressive Symptoms
Getting an accurate diagnosis through a mental health professional is the first step towards relief. Treatments aimed at stabilization include:
- Medications like mood stabilizers, atypical antipsychotics and anti-anxiety drugs to smoothen out mood highs and lows.
- Psychotherapy to develop coping skills, self-awareness and support systems. Cognitive-behavioral and interpersonal therapy are particularly helpful.
- Education programs for individuals and families to understand symptoms while building a toolbox of management skills.
- Consistent daily routines with regular sleep, activity and meal schedules to maintain balance.
- Stress management techniques such as meditation, yoga and deep breathing.
- Avoidance of recreational drugs and alcohol which can aggravate mood instability.
With diligent treatment compliance, support and lifestyle balance, many individuals achieve long-term control over severe high and low cycles. They can pursue rich, personally meaningful lives. Breakthrough manic or depressive episodes do remain a possibility however. Having an emergency response plan when early warning signs appear can enable rapid intervention to avert relapse.
The Keys to Living Well with Manic-Depression
A combination of medications, therapy, self-care practices and support systems make all the difference for those diagnosed with manic-depressive illness. The keys to living well with this condition include:
- Being self-aware and closely monitoring moods and behaviors.
- Maintaining consistent daily routines – don’t get too high or too low.
- Committing fully to treatment plans instead of abandoning them when feeling better.
- Understanding triggers of manic or depressive symptoms – keep a mood journal.
- Communicating openly about all high and low experiences with your support team.
- Prioritizing sleep, nutrition, activity and lifestyle balance every single day.
- Learning about bipolar disorder so you can catch subtle changes quickly.
- Having structure and purpose through work, activities, social networks and passions.
- Asking for help when you need it – give your support network a chance to assist.
- Believing in hope – with proper treatment and personal ownership, remission is possible.
Manic-depressive illness can be disruptive and challenging. However, countless individuals summon the courage and resilience to actively master their symptoms, embrace support and lead deeply meaningful lives. Diagnosed or not – we all have hills and valleys; it’s all about the balance.
Resilient Mind Psychotherapy is comprised of a group of committed psychotherapists whose primary objective is to provide our clients with exceptional care. In order to promote healing and individual growth, Resilient Mind Psychotherapy in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, NY employs evidence-based therapeutic methods and places a premium on creating a safe and supportive environment.
Make the first step toward a more resilient mind and a more promising future by contacting us today to schedule an appointment.