Mental Health Home > Manic Depression

Also known as bipolar disorder, manic depression is a brain disorder that involves episodes (or cycles) of mania and depression. Most people with the condition are free of symptoms between cycles, but as many as one-third can have residual symptoms. Similar to medical conditions like diabetes or heart disease, manic depression is a long-term illness that must be carefully managed throughout a person's life.

What Is Manic Depression?

Manic depression, also known as bipolar disorder, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in a person's mood, energy, and ability to function. The symptoms of manic depression are severe -- much different than the normal ups and downs everyone goes through. They can result in damaged relationships, poor job or school performance, and even suicide. But there is good news: Manic depression can be treated, and people with this illness can lead full and productive lives.
More than 2 million American adults, or about 1 percent of the population age 18 and older, have manic depression in any given year. The condition typically develops in late adolescence or early adulthood. However, some people experience their first symptoms during childhood, while others develop them later in life. Manic depression is often not recognized as an illness, and people may suffer for years before it is properly diagnosed and treated. Like diabetes or heart disease, manic depression is a long-term illness that must be carefully managed throughout a person's life

The Cycles of Manic Depression

Manic depression involves episodes, or cycles, of mania and depression. These episodes typically recur throughout a person's lifetime. Between episodes, most people with manic depression are free of symptoms, but as many as one-third have some residual symptoms. A small percentage of people experience chronic, unremitting symptoms despite treatment.
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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