Diagnosing Manic Depression

 There is no blood test or lab test for diagnosing Manic Depression. (Bipolar) A Manic Depression Diagnosis is accomplished through the following:

  • Giving the person a complete and thorough physical examination.
  • Taking a full family history, talking with the person as well as family members to determine any family history of mental illness or periods of high mood or mania, when thinking may have been impaired.
  • A psychiatrist, experienced with mood disorders should be consulted for a complete psychological, diagnostic evaluation.
  • Reviewing any symptoms the person is experiencing.
  • The duration and severity of any symptoms.
  • What is Manic Depression?




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      Possible Imitators of Manic Depression

     Although there are no scans or blood tests for diagnosing manic depression, other possible lab testing can and should be done to rule out other medical conditions, or medications that may mimic its symptoms:

  • A possible stroke
  • A thyroid problem
  • Use of antidepressants
  • Lupus
  • A deficiency of vitamin B-12
  • Antianxiety medications
  • A brain tumor, or head trauma
  • Use of Corticosteroids
  • Lyme disease
  • Sodium imbalance
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Epilepsy
  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
  • Neurosyphilis
  • ADHD, …and the list goes on.

  •   Co-occurring Disorders

    -In addition to imitators, when diagnosing manic depression it is also important to note that there are coincidental anxiety disorders that appear to be widespread among those with Manic depressive (Bipolar) disorder:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Social Anxiety Disorder
  • Panic Disorder
  • Agoraphobia
  • Various other Phobias
  • -The addition of these emotional problems, together with medications that may be used for other medical conditions, only cloud the subject and make diagnosing manic depression that much tougher.

    This is why it is so important to have an accurate and up to date history of the individual being examined, both emotionally and physically when trying to diagnose manic depression.

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      Treatment for Manic Depression

     There is no known cure for manic depression or its symptoms, but if the type of manic depression is known, the focus of the treatment can be determined. The appropriate treatment for manic depression symptoms can help to stabilize even the most severe cases of the disorder.

    -Bipolar disorder is a perennial disorder that will need continuing treatment throughout the person's lifetime. Treatment for manic depression includes psychotherapy, (cognitive behavioral therapy) various mood-stabilizing medications, (at times in conjunction with stimulants) and depending on the patient, antidepressants.


     Many are not happy with the medications (side effects) often required for treatment of manic depression, but the fact is, it is the cornerstone for management of the disorder and a necessary part.

    -The symptoms of depression and mania need to be stabilized and relapses prevented. Medications, like them or not, make this possible.


     Once the person is stabilized, many other steps should be added to help reduce the medications required and the dosage (and their side effects)

    -Lifestyle changes to reduce stress, various relaxation methods and a daily dose of exercise can go a long way in reducing this need.

     Adequate sleep and a regular bedtime are also essential.

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      Manic Depression Medications

     Mood Stabilizers are most often the first prescribed medications for those with manic depressive illness.

    -Lithium -The most common mood stabilizer used for bipolar disorder. The first approved by the FDA in the 70's for mania symptoms. Often quite effective for depression episodes as well as mania symptoms.

    -Valproic Acid -A popular alternative to Lithium and generally just as effective for treatment of manic depression symptoms.

     Antipsychotic Medications -Are also used at times for treatment of manic or combined episodes of bipolar depression.
    -Seroquel, Abilify, Zyprexa and Risperdal are some examples of these.

     Antidepressant Drugs -Often used for the treatment of depression symptoms in manic depression. Many believe antidepressants only make mania symptoms and episodes worse, and try to avoid their use. Usually they are prescribed along with a mood stabilizer to prevent this. 

    -Zoloft, Prozac, Paxil, and Wellbutrin are a few, and of these Wellbutrin is often the best tolerated by most when taken without a stabilizer.

     Sleep Medications
    -People receiving a manic depression diagnosis frequently have trouble sleeping, usually making their symptoms much worse.

     Often sleeping improves after treatment, if not the doctor may change manic depression medications or will often prescribe sleep-inducing medications to help with this.

    -Check out the Drug Safety -Medication Guides on various Bipolar Medications at USFDA, they can help avoid any possible adverse affects.

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      Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)

     ECT has been very effective for severe symptoms of depression, mania and combined episodes. Despite its once scary reputation, shock therapy, as it was once referred to, has been greatly improved over the years.

    -Usually used as a last resort for severe cases of manic depression that do not respond well to other treatments, or when other medical conditions preclude their use, such as with a pregnancy.

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      Manic Depression Diagnosis - Best Treatment

     The most effective treatment for manic depression is a combination of;       a healthy diet, daily exercise, regular meetings with a psychiatrist versed in manic depression, and closely monitored prescribed medications.

    -Of course, the correct amount of sleep is extremely important as well.

     A strong support system including family and friends is also a must. With their help, symptoms and certain behaviors can be more easily tracked and managed before they can become problematic.


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     What Are The Most Important Things You Can Do For a Friend       or Loved One Who Has Manic Depression Symptoms?

    -Make sure they see their doctor for confirmation of the disorder.

    -If the manic depression diagnosis is confirmed, the single most important thing you can do for them is to become educated!

    -Go to family therapy with the person, not only will this help you to understand and better deal with the illness, but it will show them you care, thereby reducing their stress and possibly even their symptoms.

    -Learn as much as you can about bipolar disorder.

     Once you realize that most, if not all of what they do while under the influence of their symptoms is caused by the disorder, and not on purpose (out of ignorance or selfishness), the sooner you can help them to stabilize their condition, and eventually to help themselves.

    This seems obvious, but folks can be impatient, and downright cruel at times when it comes to other people's problems, sometimes even with a loved one. 

       -It is not their fault they have bipolar disorder.

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      Prognosis for Manic Depression

     With proper therapies and a close eye on medications, manic depression symptoms can be controlled. With continued vigilance and support, it is quite possible for most with the disorder to live virtually normal lives.


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    Back to Warning Signs of Depression


    -Additional Information on Depression and Your Health...

    Dysthymia Disorder - Clinical Depression Signs - Depression or Eating Disorder?

    Depression Self Help - Psychotherapy Types - Running For Depression

    What is Manic Depression? - Manic Depression Symptoms

    From Diagnosing Manic Depression to Home Page


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    Depression Related:

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        Mania Symptoms

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        Bipolar Imitators

        11 Signs of Depression 

       Depression Diagnosis video

        Clinical Depression Signs

        Dysthymia

        Psychotherapy Types

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        Signs of Depression? Or

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