Manic-depression, also known as bipolar disease, is a serious mental illness that is best diagnosed and managed by psychiatrists
. A primary care physician
can also help answer questions and assist with securing an evaluation by the appropriate mental health specialists.
Manic-depression, as the name implies, is characterized by periods of depressed mood alternating with an overly elevated or irritable mood known as mania. Both clinical mania and depression have distinct characteristics.
Depressive episodes include: feeling down; loss of interest or pleasure in activities; changes in weight or appetite; changes in sleep patterns, including both insomnia
and excessive sleep; loss of energy or fatigue; decreased ability to concentrate or make decisions; or suicidal thoughts. In depression, at least five of these feelings must last for two weeks and not be related to substance abuse or a medical illness.
In contrast, manic episodes include: feelings of extreme happiness, irritation, or mood elevation; decreased sleep; constant speech or pressured speech where a person can't seem to stop talking and jumps from one idea to another; racing thoughts; hyper-sexuality; impulsivity. These symptoms last for at least one week in a manic episode.
Any symptoms of depression or mania should be taken seriously and evaluated by a physician. Mental illness cannot be diagnosed without a thorough evaluation, so the best thing to do with any concerns about changes in mood is to see a physician right away.