difference between bipolar and manic depression

When wondering what is the difference between bipolar and manic depression it can be a bit confusing. These two terms are still used interchangeably, leaving the impression that they are two distinct mental health disorders. In reality, manic depression is the same disorder as bipolar disorder, but happens to be an outdated label. In 1980, the DSM-3 officially reclassified this particular disorder as bipolar disorder.

Individuals who struggle with bipolar disorder understand why it was once called manic-depressive disorder, as it manifests itself with features of both clinical depression and mania or hypomania. There are different degrees of severity of the disorder, leading to a total of four types of bipolar disorder to be listed in the DMS-5. Since there is no difference between bipolar and manic depression, let’s push past the labeling and talk about bipolar disorder.

What Is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a complex mental health disorder that is considered a “mood disorder,” and features extreme shifts between moods and energy levels. Someone with this challenging condition may find that it can impair daily functioning, career stability, and relationships. According to Mental Health America, approximately 3.3 million adults in the U.S. struggle with this mental health disorder in any given year.

The intensive mood swings between mania and depression can be very disruptive in daily life, although there may be long periods of calm that separate these mood shifts. While there is no cure for bipolar disorder, there are methods and medications that help individuals manage the symptoms and enjoy a productive life. In most cases, bipolar disorder is first diagnosed in the teen years or early adulthood, although there are cases of it being diagnosed in later years as well.

What Causes Bipolar Disorder?

To date, science has not yet been able to identify the exact cause of bipolar disorder. However, there are strong indications that there is a genetic component, as chances of developing the disorder are enhanced if a close family member has the condition. But even so, when studying identical twins there may be one twin with the disorder and the other who never develops it.

It is also thought that particular features in brain structure might predispose someone to bipolar disorder, especially in light of traumatic events or intensely stressful life events that might trigger a bipolar episode.

What Are the Symptoms of Mania?

The symptoms of mania include:

  • Very little sleep
  • Easily distracted
  • Irritability
  • Excessive energy, hyperactivity
  • Intense euphoria
  • Overly ambitious undertakings
  • Exercising poor judgment
  • Impulsivity
  • Engaging in risky behaviors
  • Aggression
  • Psychosis

Hypomania is a less severe form of mania, with symptoms lasting four days or more but which do not cause severe impairment in daily functioning as mania does.

What are the Symptoms of Depression?

The symptoms of depression include:

  • Persistent sadness, feelings of despair
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Changes in weight
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Physical symptoms such as chronic digestive problems or headaches
  • Feelings of guilt or shame
  • Suicidal ideation

Types of Bipolar Disorder

When an individual is being evaluated for bipolar disorder they will first undergo a physical exam to rule out any medical reason for the symptoms. Then using the DSM-5 diagnostic criteria and various assessments, the mental health practitioner can pinpoint the specific type of bipolar disorder According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness there are four types of bipolar disorder. These include:

Bipolar I. Bipolar I disorder involves one or more manic episodes, with or without depressive episodes occurring. The mania must be severe enough that hospitalization is required and last a week or longer.

Bipolar II. Bipolar II disorder is characterized by the shifting between the less severe hypomanic episodes and depressive episodes.

Cyclothymic disorder. Cyclothymic disorder involves chronic mood shifts between depressive and hypomanic lasting more than two years. There may be periods of normal mood as well, but those periods last less than 8 weeks.

Unspecified bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder not otherwise specified is present when the symptoms do not fit the other three diagnoses, but still involve episodes of unusual manic mood.

Treatment for Bipolar Disorder

While there is no difference between bipolar and manic depression labeling, both the mania and the depression must be managed. Once the particular type of bipolar disorder is diagnosed, a treatment protocol will be created for the individual. In most cases, a combination of medication and psychotherapy is the first line of treatment. For those who have bipolar I, admission into a residential treatment program or hospitalization is the appropriate level of care.

Medication: Psychotropic medications are prescribed according to the predominant features of the bipolar disorder. These may include antidepressants, benzodiazepines, and anti-psychotic medication.

Psychotherapy: Talk therapy and group therapy helps individuals process the disruption that their bipolar disorder causes in daily life and find solutions for managing relationships and other stressors better. CBT can assist the individual with shifting pessimistic thoughts that drives irrational behaviors to more optimistic thinking.

Family-focused therapy: Stress that is a common feature within families when a member has bipolar disorder can undermine recovery. This involves helping family members learn to communicate better, practice better problem solving skills, and manage anger and conflicts more effectively.

Stress-management: Teaching individuals with bipolar disorder to better manage their stress level is intrinsic to a positive outcome. These methods include deep breathing, yoga, and mindfulness training.

Medical detox and addiction treatment for dual diagnosis: Substance use disorders often co-occur with bipolar disorder. If so, the individual will benefit from detox and addiction treatment in addition to the targeted treatment for bipolar disorder.

Elevation Behavioral Health is a Leading Provider of Bipolar Disorder Treatment

Elevation Behavioral Health is a residential mental health program that treats individuals with bipolar disorder. What sets Elevation Behavioral Health apart from other residential programs is its “elevation” of treatment interventions to a more focused and comprehensive level of intensity. At Elevation Behavioral Health, patients find themselves in a compassionate, supportive environment that allows them to heal. Interventions are designed to help stabilize the severity of the mood shifts, to learn new ways to recognize and manage oncoming symptoms, improving their level of functioning at school or work, and teach them methods to reduce stress and promote relaxation. For more information about whether there is a difference between bipolar and manic depression, or any other questions, please contact Elevation Behavioral Health at (888) 561-0868.

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