Life with manic depression

Imagine what it would be like if you struggled with your emotions everyday, not being able to control how you think, judge, or even how you act in social situations. People with the disorder manic depression deal with symptoms such as the ones above and many more. Manic depression is also known as bipolar disorder, and by definition is a mental disorder characterized by episodes of mania and depression; in layman’s terms it’s a disorder that affects a persons emotions, which leads to extreme mood swings.

Most researchers agree that manic depression is a genetic disorder, which means if one of your parents has it there is a possibility you would inherently have the disorder too. Manic depression usually begins between the ages of 15-25, also it affects men and women equally (Board 1). Researchers also found that people with manic depression are generally more quiet about their disorder than people who have normal depression, and and this makes them twice as likely to commit suicide. The reason I choose this topic is a personal one, I grew up in a home with a person who suffers from manic depression, the person I love most in my life.

My mother has had to deal with it for most of her life, and for all of my life I’ve had to sit on the sidelines and watch her suffer. Her dad, my grandfather also had the disorder and actually took his own life after the Vietnam war because he never sought help for it. My mother, my aunt, and my uncle all suffer from manic depression, the disease is genetic and no research has found a direct link to the cause of the disorder, I am worried that I too may have it and just don’t know it yet.

The history of bipolar disorder/ manic depression has many gaps in it and it wasn’t till recently in the 20th century that it was more regularly studied and much more was learned. The first person to document a case of manic depression was in 400 B. C. , it was discovered by Hippocrates and named “melancholy. ” A book entitled, “The Anatomy of Melancholia” was written in 1650 by Richard Burton. The book took research from old philosophers such as Aretaeus and Hippocrates, and combined the symptoms of mania and depression together.

Most of the research of the disorder focused on the depression part until 1854, when professor Jules Falret discovered a link between depression and heightened moods in patients (known today as mania), as well as the link between suicide and depression. After that in 1875, Falret went on to discover a genetic link in families that suffered from what he called “manic depressive psychosis. ” In 1913 a scientist Emil Kraepelin did a study on the effects of manic states followed by depressive states in his patients and coined the term “manic-depressive.

” Finally in 1952 a medical journal concluded that manic depression was passed down in the genes of families with the disorder. It wasn’t until the 1979! That congress finally determined it to be a legitimate illness and had it renamed to “bipolar disorder. ” Lastly in 1999 Oxford University did a very comprehensive study on the disorder, including age, gender, and many other factors that would help physicians diagnose the disease correctly. Manic depression affects about 1 in 100 people worldwide and according to the wexner medical center in america, “Manic depression affects more than 5.

7 million American adults – or about 2. 6 percent of Americans age 18 and older in a given year. When symptoms are present before the age of 12, they are often confused with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) – a syndrome that is usually characterized by serious and persistent difficulties resulting in inattentiveness or distractibility, impulsivity, and hyperactivity” (Wexner 1). The first step to finding out if someone has manic depressive disorder is for them to get the proper diagnosis.

Manic depression mimics symptoms of many other various psychological disorders such as major depression and schizophrenia. Since this disorder is similar to other disorders it makes it that much harder for someone to get the proper diagnosis. Another reason it is hard for people to discover they have manic depression is because many of the people who suffer from it don’t think there is anything wrong with them when they are experiencing periods of mania. From my own experience I understand how hard it is for someone with manic depression to get diagnosed.

My mother, who suffers from manic depression is like many other people who have the disorder, she does not like to talk about it and she also feels like it is something to be embarrassed about. Finally, when a person realizes they need help, or a relative/friend push them to get help, the person with disorder can get the proper treatment and know how to keep track of their symptoms. Although, there are over 5 million cases of manic depression in the united states alone, there is still lots to be learned about this disorder.

Some of the most recent research has focused on how people that suffer from manic depression have a different chemical signature than people without it. A study done by the University of Cambridge and there findings lead them to believe, “that an upset in the balance of different neurotransmitters known as excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters, which are involved in sending signals in the brain, may be central to the disorder. The study also suggests that lithium and valproic acid work by restoring the balance of these neurotransmitters in the brain” (Smith 1).

Another interesting thing behind this study is the fact that they found out that lithium, which is one of the main treatments for manic depression, actually balances the neurotransmitters in the brain. Up until little was known about how lithium worked to help stabilize the mood in people that have manic depressive disorder. Doctor Tsz Tsang, one of the authors of the study about chemical signature of manic depression also added at the end of the study that, “By identifying a distinct biochemical profile in patients with bipolar disorder, our new research provides a valuable insight into the origins and causes of the disease.

Moreover, the changes we see in people’s metabolic signatures may give a target for drug therapy, allowing us to see how effective a drug is at correcting these changes” (Smith 1). This study was the most recent I could find on the disorder and it was in 2008, which goes to show how little we still know about this disorder. Most other older studies have tried to study the direct link between manic depression and genetics, but there is still no physical proof only a strong theory. Older studies also focused more on the effects of mood stabilizers on patients that were bipolar.

There is still much to be learned, but science has came a long way in the study and treatment of manic depressive disorder. Once a person is properly diagnosed with manic depression the next step they need to take is finding the proper treatment. There is no known cure yet for bipolar disorder/manic depression, but with proper medication and therapy people with the disease can live stable and happy lives. The medical side of the treatment focuses on medications that stabilize mood swings and the other part of the treatment is to begin counseling with a therapist.

There are many medications that are prescribed to a patient that suffers from the disorder, the top three are Lithium, Valproate/Divalproex, and Carbamazepine. Lithium is the most commonly prescribed mood stabilizer to treat both manic and depressive episodes. It seems to have the best results on patients because it works more gradually than most other medications. My mother actually takes Lithium, and the difference in her mood and general happiness is night and day compared to when she is off of the medication.

Valproate/Divalproex is actually a anticonvulsant medication, but it is also used as a mood stabilizer and actually was the second mood stabilizer ever prescribed. Carbamazepine is also an anticonvulsant medication, but is now being prescribed as a mood stabilizer and has proven to be pretty effective in people who can’t take the other medications. For people with manic depression medication is only the first part of the treatment, if not followed by support from family and help from a professional therapist the patient may have a relapse.

It’s common for a person with manic depression to stop taking their medication because they feel like they’re better and don’t need to take it anymore, this is why a person with the disorder needs to have strong family support and a professional therapist. If a person with manic depression stops taking their medication and has strong family support one of the family members will notice they aren’t acting the same and make sure they’re taking their medication, even if the person with the disorder thinks they don’t need it anymore.

If left unchecked a person with manic depression will possibly stop taking their medication, this can lead to episodes of depression, that can eventually end up in hospitalization or even death from suicide. Although, there are many medications to help with the treatment of manic depression, they aren’t the only answer, people with the disorder need the help and support of their family and also the help of a trained professional to get the best treatment for bipolar/manic depression. Manic depression is a serious disorder and will not go away without proper treatment. Over 5.

5 million people have manic depression in the U. S. alone and at least 1 in 100 people in the world suffer from it. I choose to research this disorder because my mother has it but still leads a normal life, she is my idol, because I’ve seen her struggle through her ups and downs with this disorder and I almost lost her to it. At first I was hesitant to write about this disorder because it actually scares me, I already knew that the disorder might be hereditary before I researched manic depression and I found it even more nerve racking that most doctors believe it to be.

It’s scary to know that I could have to deal with the same things I watched my amazing mother struggle with when I was a child, but I now know that if I do end up having manic depression there is a treatment and I know my family would be there for me just like I’ve been there for them. There is still so much to be learned about this disorder and I hope in the years to come there will be more research, better treatments, and hopefully someday a full blown cure.

Works Cited Board, A. D. A. M. Editorial. “Bipolar Disorder. ” Bipolar Disorder.U. S. National Library of Medicine, 18 Nov. 2011. Web. 09 Dec. 2012. Smith, Abigail. “Chemical Signature of Manic Depression Discovered by Scientists. “Chemical Signature of Manic Depression Discovered by Scientists. Imperial College London Press,5 Feb. 2008. Web. 09 Dec. 2012. Wexner. “Manic Depression / Bipolar Disorder. ” Manic Depression / Bipolar Disorder. N. p. , n. d. Web. 08 Dec. 2012. WebMD. “Manic Depression (Manic Depressive Disorder): Symptoms, Treatments, Causes, and More. ” WebMD. WebMD, n. d. Web. 09 Dec. 2012.

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