It’s a common misconception that manic depression and bipolar disorder are two entirely separate conditions. In reality, they’re one and the same thing. Bipolar disorder, previously known as manic depression, is a mental illness that causes people to experience extreme fluctuations in mood.
These mood swings can range from moments of extreme happiness and increased activity, known as mania, to periods of deep sadness and despair, known as depression. Bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition that typically begins in adolescence or early adulthood.
It’s estimated that about 4.4 percent of the US adult population will develop this debilitating mood disorder in their lives. People with bipolar disorder often find it difficult to function in everyday life and may require ongoing treatment to keep their symptoms under control.
The Transition from Manic Depression to Bipolar Disorder
Until 1980, manic depression was the term used to refer to what is now known as bipolar disorder. However, since the name “mania” originated from ancient Greece and was used to refer to “madness,” it had a negative and potentially offensive connotation.
As a result, the name bipolar disorder was adopted to reduce the stigma and describe the disorder in a more accurate way. These changes were implemented in 1980 during the publication of the third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM III).
And while “bipolar disorder” and “manic depression” are often used interchangeably, it’s important to remember that that terminology is a sensitive matter when it comes to mental illnesses. Whether you’re speaking to someone with bipolar disorder or writing about it, it’s advisable to be mindful of how your choice of language can affect others and always use the most current terminology.
What Causes Bipolar Disorder?
The exact cause of bipolar disorder is unknown, but it is believed to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. People with a family history of bipolar disorder or other mental illnesses are at an increased risk of developing the condition themselves. Additionally, stressful life events can trigger the onset of this debilitating mental illness.
Other factors that have been implicated in the development of bipolar disorder include chemical imbalances and structural abnormalities in the brain, traumatic childhood experiences, and substance abuse.
How Is Bipolar Disorder Treated?
There is no cure for bipolar disorder, but it can be effectively managed with medication or therapy. The most common types of medication used to treat bipolar disorder include mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, and antidepressants.
In addition to medication, many people with bipolar disorder find relief through therapy (both individual and group) and self-care measures such as exercise, relaxation techniques, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Education about the condition is also critical for those diagnosed with bipolar disorder and their loved ones. Learning about the symptoms, potential triggers, and warning signs of an impending episode can help people take steps to prevent or lessen the severity of an episode.
Manic depression and bipolar disorder are two terms that are often used interchangeably, but they refer to the same condition. However, the term bipolar disorder is preferable, as it helps reduce the stigma associated with mental illness and describes the condition more accurately.