Bipolar Manic Depression: More Than Just Mood Swings

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Bipolar manic depression is also known as bipolar disorder. What is bipolar disorder? It is a mental condition, caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, characterised by severe, protracted, often violent mood swings.

It is normal for our moods to shift over the course of daily life. Indeed, few of us would want to live without our shifting moods. Being alternately happy and sad, desiring and being satiated, is what gives spice and variety to this thing we call life. It is what gives our earthly life the sense of meaning and a purpose (aside, of course, from religious explanations).

However, among those suffering from bipolar disorder (aka manic depression), these mood swings are so extreme as to interfere with the ability to lead normal lives. Bipolar people don’t just feel happy. Often, they go into a manic phase that lasts for days. During the manic phase, bipolar people tend to not just feel good about themselves: they feel godlike and all powerful. They feel like they don’t need to sleep. They go around saying things like, “Napoleon only slept three hours a night; I shall sleep two hours a night and make the world bow to my sword!”

While in the throes of bipolar mania, a hard-working family man might start visiting the casino and severely underestimating the financial risks of gambling. Families have been known to fall apart after a bipolar parent gambles away his children’s college tuition or his spouse’s retirement savings.

What’s worse is that, among the sufferers of this disorder, bipolar mania alternates with periods of extreme depression. After a few days or weeks of frenzied activity, the bipolar patient’s world has a tendency to come crashing down. Suddenly, the bipolar patient, who was just a moment ago running from one activity to another in an ultimately unproductive frenzy, becomes sullen, lacking in energy, and consumed by feelings of guilt. Often, the bipolar patient doesn’t want to get out of bed. Bipolar patients suffering from extreme depression have even been known to kill themselves.

Bipolar symptoms devastate not only the patient, but also his nearest and dearest. It is extremely frustrating to be in a relationship with someone whose moods bear no discernible relationship to external reality. When you love someone, you want to make that person happy. You are personally invested in making the object of your love happy. What, then, is more heartbreaking than slowly realising that your actions affect your loved one’s happiness less than his or her own mood swings. The best thing one can do if a loved one is demonstrating bipolar symptoms, is to send that person to a qualified psychotherapist.

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