The very fact of developing depressive illness in response to stress is an indicator of some vulnerability in the person’s biochemistry. Some people have an associated vulnerability to another mood illness, known as Hypomania. This is commonly referred to as “going high”. People who have suffered both depressive illness and hypomania are labelled as suffering from Bipolar Disorder, which was previously called Manic Depressive Illness (manic is another word for going high, and has nothing to do with being crazy or being a maniac).
Many people, and their families and friends, do not recognise as illness the early episodes of being high. Typically, the person is elated, although sometimes they can be simply very angry. The person has lots of energy, and in particular has much less need for sleep than usual, and may for example describe two or three hours sleep a night as perfectly restful and adequate. The person tends to talk a lot, make multiple telephone calls, have a great sense of extraversion and confidence, and may indulge in inappropriate spending or inappropriate sexual activity. The condition can lead to major social disruption, with long term consequences for the person involved, once the illness has stopped. Your doctor will know of various medications which can stop this illness rapidly, and may suggest Lithium or anticonvulsant medications or more modern mood stabilisers to prevent the condition returning.
It is estimated that about five per cent of cases of people becoming hypomanic / high, are actually induced by taking antidepressant medication for treatment of depressive illness, with the treatment in effect being too successful. Giving antidepressant medications to patients with bipolar disorder for treatment of a depressive phase of the disorder, runs the risk of precipitating a hypomanic episode, and specialist intervention is usually advised.
Sudden onset of depression, especially if severe, increases the possibility that bipolar illness will eventually develop.
Suicide in bipolar disorder
Unfortunately, bipolar disorder is a life-threatening illness, with fifteen per cent of sufferers dying from suicide. Recent research indicates the highly beneficial effects of taking Lithium, and perhaps other mood stabilising agents such as anticonvulsants, over very many years, ideally for one’s lifetime. Lifetime prevention may be a nuisance, but the risk of suicide is very high in this disorder, and the severity of the illness suffered in bipolar illness tends to be extremely unpleasant.
Important Disclaimer: This site is medical information only, and is not to be taken as diagnosis, advice or treatment, which can only be decided by your own doctor.