Everyone has ups and downs in mood. Sometimes you may bubble with energy and good spirits, with everything being a lot of fun and healthy positive outlook on life. Other times you feel ‘off mood’, when things are not particularly enjoyable and everything seems to be going wrong. Changes in mood are so much a part of life, that we sometimes fail to recognize when they are abnormal.

Signs of abnormal mood swings :

If these signs of excitement are present, they may indicate an abnormal mood swing on the upward side – (Mania)

  • feeling high, everything seems wonderful
  • fast flow of ideas
  • talks too much, too loud and never sticks
  • seems not to need sleep
  • to one topic, distracted easily
  • highly energetic and active
  • impatient
  • interfering
  • insensitive to other people
  • easily irritated
  • sudden increase in religious feeling
  • feeling one is great or special
  • not understanding that he or she chosen is behaving differently
  • lack of self criticism
  • spending lots of money, energetic, never still

These signs can become more and more intense with the person’s high energy turning into violence and destructive behavior, or they can remain low key, with the person seeming to be in a heightened mood all the time. These signs could be symptoms of a disorder known as manic depressive psychosis (MDP). These ‘manic’ symptoms can sometimes disappear suddenly, giving way to normal behavior or there can be episodes of depression.

These are the signs to look out for on the downward side –

  • withdrawal from social activities
  • crying frequently
  • suicidal thoughts
  • reduced emotional response
  • disturbed sleep specially in mornings
  • poor appetite
  • feelings of worthlessness
  • general tiredness
  • restlessness
  • lack of interest
  • blaming self for problems
  • preoccupied with guilt
  • low energy
  • slowed mental functions

In addition, suicide is a very real possibility in depression and irreversible! So, one should be alert for·any signs of suicidal thoughts or intentions.

Causes of Manic Depressive Psychosis

Manic depressive psychosis is an inherited problem. The reasons for this illness exist in the genetic make up of the person. Often, more than one person in a family will have the same problem but this is not necessary – the tendency to develop the disease can be there without it actually happening. It is a matter of body chemistry and internal biological clock. Psychological stress can act as a trigger for the problem or can make the symptoms worse. Sometimes there is seasonal variation or circumstances after repeated episodes could percipitate future episodes. Alcohol and drugs are known to percipitate attacks, specially of depression. Similarly some physical illnesses or medicines may also percipitate an episode.

When to Consult A Psychiatrist?

If you notice pronounced mood swings and changes from normal to up, from normal to down or from up to down, it would be advisable to check with the psychiatrist for presence of manic depressive psychosis. If a person begins to behave violently or is otherwise destructive, or if daily routine and social life is disrupted and there is the danger that the person may do himself harm, consult the psychiatrist.

Treatment of Mood Disorders :

Medication works best for Manic depressive psychosis. The treatment, which must be taken regularly and for a long period of time, controls the episodes with a high rate of success. When the problem is especially severe, the person may have to be hospitalized until he or she is behaving normally again.

Work therapy and exercises :— During an episode of depression, the person may lose confidence of being able to do anything in future and feeling in control through work helps the person feel better. Mixing with people and engaging in social activities also plays an important part. Exercise builds up certain chemicals which have anti depression activity. Work, exercise and social interaction works off some excess energy in manic episodes but one must ensure that this does not further stimulate the excitement.

Counseling:— The person recovering from a mood disorder may need help with getting his or her life back together. Advice may be needed on how to handle stress situations and on how to get back to’ living as normal a life as possible.

Prevention :— It is possible to control the future episodes of Mania or Depression if the episodes are:— Frequent, Occurring very rapidly, Switches from Depression to Mania very fast without periods of normalcy, Increasing in number, Lasting for prolonged periods and very severe.

Precautions :— The episodes once started do not usually go away on their own and before the episode is over, violence to others or self; total breakdown of work, social support and family are real dangers.

The treatment is to be started immediately and person helped/restrained from making any long term mistakes. The family also must not make the patient a focus of attention and should try and network with other familiar to ensure learning from each other as well as give support.

Although mood disorder is an illness, we should not forget that some people after controlling their mood disorders have done great and novel work in the history of mankind!