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What are the symptoms of manic depression?

I've always been prone to mood swings, but recently I've been noticing the highs and lows getting more pronounced. How would I know if I had manic depressive disorder? What are the symptoms?
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.
This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.
If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.

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