Many people believe manic depression and bipolar disorder are two separate conditions. However, they are the same. Manic depression was the original name for bipolar disorder. Today, there are four types of bipolar disorder.

The condition, now known as bipolar disorder, was known as manic depression or manic-depressive illness until the 1980s. With the release of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), Third Edition, health experts changed the name of the condition. Additionally, the current diagnostic criteria began to form.

This article discusses manic depression and its change to bipolar disorder. It also explains the symptoms, types, and treatments for bipolar disorder.

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Health experts first classified manic depression as a psychiatric condition in 1952 with the release of the first edition of the DSM. Some of the criteria were similar to the current criteria for mania and depression. However, it did not consider the cyclic nature of bipolar disorder.

By 1980, the DSM had received a third update. At this time, it began to characterize psychiatric conditions with specific diagnostic criteria. One of the main differences was the requirement of various episodes for the diagnosis of bipolar disorder, as health experts had begun to call it at the time.

This was also the time when detailed definitions of both manic and depressive episodes were available — these also included mixed episodes. Additionally, health experts introduced the term hypomania in the third edition of the DSM. The types of bipolar disorder were also beginning to receive classifications.

It was the realization of the complexity of symptoms of the condition that led, at least in part, to the change from manic depression to bipolar disorder.

A person with bipolar disorder typically experiences periods of intense changes in emotions, sleep patterns, and activity. People often call these periods episodes. During an episode, either manic or depressive, symptoms generally last most of the day or all day, while episodes can last for days or weeks.

Symptoms of manic episodes include:

  • feeling very elated or up
  • feeling very irritable or touchy
  • feeling jumpy, wired, or more active than usual
  • experiencing a decreased need for sleep
  • talking fast and racing thoughts
  • experiencing excessive hunger, sex drive, or desire for pleasurable activities
  • feeling unusually important or powerful

Symptoms of depressive episodes include:

  • feeling sad or down
  • feeling anxious
  • feeling restless or slowed down
  • experiencing difficulty falling asleep, waking too early, or sleeping too late
  • talking slowly and forgetfulness
  • having difficulty concentrating
  • having a lack of interest in most activities
  • having feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
  • having thoughts of death or suicide

Suicide prevention

If you know someone at immediate risk of self-harm, suicide, or hurting another person:

  • Ask the tough question: “Are you considering suicide?”
  • Listen to the person without judgment.
  • Call 911 or the local emergency number, or text TALK to 741741 to communicate with a trained crisis counselor.
  • Stay with the person until professional help arrives.
  • Try to remove any weapons, medications, or other potentially harmful objects if it’s safe to do so.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, a prevention hotline can help. The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available 24 hours a day at 988. During a crisis, people who are hard of hearing can use their preferred relay service or dial 711 then 988.

Find more links and local resources.

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Read more about bipolar disorder.

In the decades since manic depression became bipolar disorder, health experts have classified the condition into types. The types of bipolar disorder are:

  • Bipolar 1 disorder: In this type, a person experiences one or more episodes of mania. Most people also experience episodes of depression. However, depressive episodes are not a requirement for diagnosis. Manic episodes of this type must last at least 7 days or be severe enough to require hospitalization.
  • Bipolar 2 disorder: In this type, a person will experience depressive episodes. These episodes often switch back and forth with hypomanic episodes. Hypomania is when a person experiences less severe symptoms of mania that never reach the requirements for a full manic episode.
  • Cyclothymic disorder or cyclothymia: With this type, a person experiences hypomania and mild depression for at least 2 years.
  • Other specified or unspecified: This is when a person experiences periods of significant mood elevation but does not meet the criteria for one of the other types of bipolar disorder.

Read more about the types of bipolar disorder.

Treatment for bipolar disorder typically includes a combination of medications and psychotherapy.

The most common type of medication for treating bipolar disorder is a mood stabilizer. However, treatment for bipolar disorder depends on the individual. A person may need to try various medications before they find the most effective one for them.

Psychotherapy can help someone live with the difficulties of mood changes. Some mental health professionals recommend keeping a mood journal to help a person better understand their moods. This often focuses on recognizing patterns in mood, energy, and sleep.

The following are some questions people frequently ask about manic depression and bipolar disorder.

Why is bipolar no longer called manic depression?

Health experts changed the name “manic depression” to “bipolar disorder” in the 1980s. This may be due in part to the negative stigmatization of the former term. Changing the label of the condition may have been to try and reduce the negative attitudes toward it.

How serious is manic depression?

Without treatment, bipolar disorder can lead to serious issues that affect all areas of a person’s life. These include issues relating to drug or alcohol use, legal or financial issues, and thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts.

What is the life expectancy of someone with manic depression?

Research shows that bipolar disorder can reduce a person’s life expectancy by anywhere between 7 and 10 years.

While many people believe manic depression and bipolar disorder are separate conditions, they are the same. Health experts renamed manic depression to bipolar disorder in the 1980s.

In the decades since then, doctors have divided the condition into four types according to the severity of the symptoms and how often a person experiences manic or depressive episodes.

Treatment for bipolar disorder generally involves a combination of medication and psychotherapy.