Monday, September 29, 2008

Sign and symptoms of clinical depression and bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness)

Dear Friends,

Thanks for stopping by this Mission 4 Monday post.

I am thankful to God that I can continue to serve Him through this blog.

One of the missions of my blog is to share with others God's goodness and mercies to me in managing clinical depression and bipolar disorder, as well as to share resources that will benefit a person with a mood disorder and information for their family and loved ones.

There is still a wide misunderstanding about depression in our society and even among Christians. Many still mistakenly think that all depression is due to a weakness in a person's character or a lack of faith in God. But in reality depression is complex (read more on The Complexity of Depression).

There is a form of depression which is clinical and due to changes in the brain or body in which a person is not able to think or function as per normal. There is also a form of mental illness or mood disorder in which a person alternate between 2 extreme mood swings ie mania and clinical depression.

What are the signs and symptoms of clinical depression or bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness)?

How can one differentiate between spiritual depression and clinical depression or bipolar depression?

Clinical depression and bipolar depression are real medical conditions that can be treated. Different from the normal ups and downs that everyone goes through, the symptoms are severe.

The following is an excerpt taken from an article on the website of National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). (NIMH said "NIMH publications are in the public domain and may be reproduced or copied without the permission from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). NIMH encourages you to reproduce them and use them in your efforts to improve public health. Citation of the National Institute of Mental Health as a source is appreciated.")

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in a person's mood, energy, and ability to function. Different from the normal ups and downs that everyone goes through, the symptoms of bipolar disorder are severe. They can result in damaged relationships, poor job or school performance, and even suicide. But there is good news: bipolar disorder can be treated, and people with this illness can lead full and productive lives.

What Are the Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder causes dramatic mood swings—from overly "high" and/or irritable to sad and hopeless, and then back again, often with periods of normal mood in between. Severe changes in energy and behavior go along with these changes in mood. The periods of highs and lows are called episodes of mania and depression.

Signs and symptoms of mania (or a manic episode) include:
• Increased energy, activity, and restlessness
• Excessively "high," overly good, euphoric mood
• Extreme irritability
• Racing thoughts and talking very fast, jumping from one idea to another
• Distractibility, can't concentrate well
• Little sleep needed
• Unrealistic beliefs in one's abilities and powers
• Poor judgment
• Spending sprees
• A lasting period of behavior that is different from usual
• Increased sexual drive
• Abuse of drugs, particularly cocaine, alcohol, and sleeping medications
• Provocative, intrusive, or aggressive behavior
• Denial that anything is wrong

A manic episode is diagnosed if elevated mood occurs with three or more of the other symptoms most of the day, nearly every day, for 1 week or longer. If the mood is irritable, four additional symptoms must be present.

Signs and symptoms of depression (or a depressive episode) include:
• Lasting sad, anxious, or empty mood
• Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
• Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
• Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed, including sex
• Decreased energy, a feeling of fatigue or of being "slowed down"
• Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
• Restlessness or irritability
• Sleeping too much, or can't sleep
• Change in appetite and/or unintended weight loss or gain
• Chronic pain or other persistent bodily symptoms that are not caused by physical illness or injury
• Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts

A depressive episode is diagnosed if five or more of these symptoms last most of the day, nearly every day, for a period of 2 weeks or longer.

A mild to moderate level of mania is called hypomania. Hypomania may feel good to the person who experiences it and may even be associated with good functioning and enhanced productivity. Thus even when family and friends learn to recognize the mood swings as possible bipolar disorder, the person may deny that anything is wrong. Without proper treatment, however, hypomania can become severe mania in some people or can switch into depression.

Sometimes, severe episodes of mania or depression include symptoms of psychosis (or psychotic symptoms). Common psychotic symptoms are hallucinations (hearing, seeing, or otherwise sensing the presence of things not actually there) and delusions (false, strongly held beliefs not influenced by logical reasoning or explained by a person's usual cultural concepts). Psychotic symptoms in bipolar disorder tend to reflect the extreme mood state at the time. For example, delusions of grandiosity, such as believing one is the President or has special powers or wealth, may occur during mania; delusions of guilt or worthlessness, such as believing that one is ruined and penniless or has committed some terrible crime, may appear during depression. People with bipolar disorder who have these symptoms are sometimes incorrectly diagnosed as having schizophrenia, another severe mental illness. It may be helpful to think of the various mood states in bipolar disorder as a spectrum or continuous range. At one end is severe depression, above which is moderate depression and then mild low mood, which many people call "the blues" when it is short-lived but is termed "dysthymia" when it is chronic. Then there is normal or balanced mood, above which comes hypomania (mild to moderate mania), and then severe mania.

In some people, however, symptoms of mania and depression may occur together in what is called a mixed bipolar state. Symptoms of a mixed state often include agitation, trouble sleeping, significant change in appetite, psychosis, and suicidal thinking. A person may have a very sad, hopeless mood while at the same time feeling extremely energized. (read the full article)

(Note: This blog is for me to share my experiences and information I have found, or resources I have found useful. This is not a place for self-diagnosis. But if you recognize some of these signs and symptoms in yourself or your loved ones or friends, you/they may need medical attention, please consult the medical physician.)

I hope to share more from this article and other resources on the diagnosis and treatment of depression and bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness).

If you are keen to read more, you can also read my previous posts:

About depression, bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness) and mental illness or mood disorders:

1. About bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness)
2. Myths and Facts on Mental Illness
3. Treatment of bipolar disorder
4. Various pamphlets and articles on bipolar disorder for sufferer and carer

For friends and carers:
1. Helping someone with mood disorder
2. Family and Friends' Guide to Recovery from Depression and Bipolar Disorder
3. How Carers and Friends can help

Other recent related posts:

1. Trust during rough times
2. Finding meaning in a life with bipolar disorder
3. Mental illness (depression, bipolar disorder, etc) is an illness like any other
4. Video on "Depression - A Stubborn Darkness"

For more Mission 4 Monday posts, visit Peggy.

Thanks again for stopping by! Thanks for all your prayers and encouragements!

Take care and God bless :)


Anonymous said...

Thank you, Nancie, for sharing this. Though many people STILL think as depression as some sort of weakness, spiritual or otherwise, many times it is caused by a chemical imbalance. You know I'm not talking about the normal ups and downs of everyday life.

This is a lasting, everyday of your life problem that needs to be dealt with professionally. Why do so many people fail to seek medical attention?

Because of the social stigmas, STILL, the others have of mental disorders.

You and I have discussed this before--a mental disorder is the same as any other disease--hypertension, heart disease, diabetes--and needs to be treated as such.

I thank you for your outstanding job of making others aware of this!


posting at:


Nancie said...

Thanks, Beth, for your support and encouragement as I seek to serve God by raising awareness about clinical depression. It will take time to educate others because the stigma has been around for too long. I am thankful to God that I can do a small part to share with others.

May God help those who are suffering from severe clinical depression and need medical treatment, to know it and to seek the appropriate medical and other helps, besides praying and reading His Words. Whenever depression lasted for more than 2 weeks and the sufferer have 5 or more of those listed symptoms, they should not hesitate to seek help. It is crucial for sufferers to understand that clinical depression is a medical condition that can be treated.

It is true that clinical depression will affect our relationship with God and ability to read the Bible and pray. But that is because of the malfunctioning of the brain chemicals and once this is rectified by medical or other helps, we will be able to function close to normal again, and be able to pray, read the Bible, enjoy worship, our family, church, work, etc etc. Hopefully these posts on my blog will help sufferers of clinical depression to find help and lessen their suffering, and their family or friends will understand and help and support them to find appropriate help. Thanks for stopping by. Take care and may God grant you a blessed week!

Addicted to Beadz said...

Hey Nancie,

Thanks for your comment on my correction.

There are so many kinds of depression. And, it is an illness, like so many common illnesses. Raising awareness, like you do, is fabulous.

Have a great day!


Debra Kaye said...


I have an award for you. Please come and see me.

Peggy said...

Thank you so much Nancie and many blessings! You have such an ability to take the complexities of depression and make it understandable with many quality resources! You have organized this very well!

I noticed that many of your previous posts to read more about this were back in Feb. & March. That is the time you were in relapse or was that after? Anyways,
I can tell that you really went out and searched for the answers when you needed them. Bless you for saving and posting all of this
for others to benefit from your hours of research & compiling the information. It is so very welled
cross referenced.

The NIMH article I had read before but at this time, it helped me to access. I know that this is only to aide someone not as a diagnosis or self treatment!

Your part in sharing this as your mission is very commendable. Your
attitude is always filled with gratitude to God for showing you these truths, His mercies & His Grace! Your breaking the myths and helping others, Christians and non Christians to understand the difference and realize that it is a medical condition is extraordinary!

The problem is that ALL that need to read this are not here reading this! Too many pass over this as it does not apply to them. But that is why the lies & misunderstandings perpetuate the stigma in society.
You would think that Christians would want and readily be open to
having compassion and adding this to the truths. Perhaps they need to look at the many in the Bible, who were suffering from mental illnesses. All the miracles were not just physical miracles of healing the blind or lame. Jesus
came for the depressed not to condemn them but to lift their spirit. The saddest part of this
illness is that when we are most in need of compassion and hope, we are so far removed from making the mental connection to rely on our hope, our faith, God's Word; our prayers seem forgotten or not heard and it worsens the situation.

It is so good to know yourself well and the symptons and your unique
composition so that you are able to catch the depression or the mania before it has progressed too far,
because it makes the recovery time
and adjustments a lot longer. It is so good to recognize and establish a pace. Many people are highly functional people normally and learn coping mechanisms. It saddens me that spiritual & clinical depression are seen the same and from the same perspective, when they are not.

Again your wisdom and compassion for sharing from your own experience and your heart full of
love for others and to help those suffering to get proper help and know they can be treated and live close to normal lives should be applauded by the Christian community and society in general.
You are MORE THAN A CONQUEROR through Christ Jesus but you do
much as a warrior in setting the captives free and bringing truth
into the light. May God continue to shine His light through you to others and draw them to knowing what you have found so special and therapeutic in sharing your mission and living well and as a victor!

Praising God & rejoicing in your triumph and truths breaking the stigma of mental illnesses and how others can support & help! Thanks for joining & sharing with Mission 4 Monday! Your contribution is most welcome and appreciated! Looking forward to reading more and watching the video on a Stubborn Darkness! Trusting in Him through the good times & the bad! Peggy

Nancie said...

Hi Cheryl, thanks for stopping by. Yes, there are many kind of depression and they are complex. It's important to understand that there is a kind of depression that is a medical condition ie clinical depression and it is an illness like so many common illnesses. I am thankful that I can help to raise awareness. Thank you for your encouragement. Have a great day too! {{Hugs}} back to you.

Nancie said...

Hi Debra, thanks for the award! It's so kind of you to share your love and the award with us :)

Nancie said...

Thanks, Peggy, for stopping by and your many kind words of encouragement. I am thankful to God for making so many resources available to us. I am thankful that He has led me to find some of these information they have been so helpful to me. I am thankful that I can share these resources on this blog to help others just like the ways I have been helped.

Most of my posts in Feb. & March 2008 were posted after my recovery from a relapse of clinical depression. I took some time to rest away from work and took the opportunity to develop this blog to share God's goodness as well as useful resources.

I feel that it is crucial for me to know how this condition can affect me and how best I can manage it with medical and other helps so that I can be functional and be a useful person in society as well as in church and family. That is why I search for information and try to apply them. It is still an ongoing journey for me and I hope God will continue to help me and enable me to share resources that are useful as He leads me to them.

I am glad the NIMH article is useful to you. Yes, the resources here are just information to help someone not as a diagnosis or self treatment. We should always seek medical and professional help if we suspect that we are having these symptoms.

Hopefully the resources on this blog will in someway help to fight the stigma and enable suffers to come forward to seek help and their family and friends to be more understanding, prayerful and supportive. Especially may the church learn to show the compassion of Jesus and help and support His suffering people.

Thanks again for all your prayers and encouragements, and for faithfully hosting Mission 4 Monday. Take care and may God bless you as you serve Him!

Anonymous said...

My friend, I am back online. I have missed you, love you.

Nancie said...

Thank God you are back, sweet Denise! We love you and we miss you! I am so blessed by your friendship too. You are loved by so many! Don't be absent for so long again, ok :) Take care and God bless you always! Sending you a great big hug.