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Manic depression


Manic depression affects one in 200 people, both men and women alike.


Manic depression is very different from depression - a person with this disorder suffers wide mood swings.


One month they might be deeply depressed and contemplating suicide, the following week they may swing into a 'high' or manic period. Then they will be elated, have excessive energy, talk rapidly and behave irresponsibly.







During a ‘low’ period, people with manic depression feel deeply depressed, with an overwhelming sense of impending doom and worthlessness. They are unlikely to bother with personal appearance or everyday tasks.


Lethargy, suicidal thoughts and even suicide are common.


During the ‘high’ episode, the symptoms are opposite. People are energetic and talk rapidly, boasting about impossible achievements and behaving irresponsibly.


The ‘high’ manic period makes some people highly creative. Handel wrote 'The Messiah' during one of his manic periods. Van Gogh, Graham Greene and Spike Milligan all suffered from manic depression.



Causes of manic depression are not known, but it does tend to run in families.

If an identical twin has the disorder, the other twin has a 50% chance of having it, even if they have not been brought up together.

If your sister or brother has manic depression there's a 10% chance of you being affected.



In 1970 lithium carbonate was first approved for treating manic depression.

It was a breakthrough in treating the condition. Carefully controlled doses help many sufferers control both the up and down mood swings, so they can lead normal lives.


Regular blood tests are needed to check that the lithium is not affecting the kidneys.

Some people suffer minor side effects such as nausea and dryness in the mouth.

Anti-depressant drugs and talking therapies may also be helpful.



For advice and information, go to the Saneline website.