Have you ever had feelings of sadness?

Were they a sign that you were suffering from depression?

If they were, was it then just depression or manic depression?

These two mental conditions can be quite confusing, especially since they both have the word “depression” as part of their names.

These two conditions are indeed different. They also share some symptoms though the shared symptoms are those of one condition—depression.

Manic depression has all the symptoms of depression while depression has none of those of manic depression. To be diagnosed with manic depression, you must first be diagnosed with depression.

Depression is also known as clinical depression or major depressive disorder whereas manic depression is also known as bipolar disorder.

More people are using the names “Clinical Depression” and “Bipolar Disorder” in order to avoid confusion between the two conditions.

A Quick Glance at the Major Differences

Reading through the article will give you more details about the differences between these two. But for a quick memory note, here are four you can easily grasp:

  • Manic depression is characterized by episodes of mania whereas depression is not
  • Manic depression is bipolar while depression is unipolar (more details in the manic depression section)
  • Depression patients are more than manic depression patients
  • Depression is treated using anti-depressant drugs while manic depression is treated using anti-seizure drugs


Depression is a mental condition which can cause you to experience emotional lows. You can also experience feelings of anxiety as well as helplessness and hopelessness.

These lows are sometimes mild but at times strong. They often cause an inability to do the tasks you would normally do. If you’re able to do them, it will be a struggle.

In extreme cases, since depression is deep, it can interfere with everyday life and if left untreated, can result in suicide.

Here is how the figures on depression look like.


To help you be able to recognize depression, we’re giving you the symptoms to look out for.

All the same, note that for an official diagnosis, you need to visit a mental health professional.

The symptoms of depression must also be persistent. You cannot have some symptoms today for two hours then they’re gone and claim to have depression.

1. Prolonged Sadness

One of the clearest signs you could be having clinical depression is if you have an overwhelming feeling of sadness. This can feel like a heavy cloud resting on you and stopping you from doing many ordinary things.

Different from stressful moments, this sadness affects you for a long time without easing up. In most cases, it will be ongoing for more than two weeks. It could also take a month or more.

During such moments, you’ll have difficulty in your relationships. Communication will be a problem and any work you were supposed to do will be affected.

2. Changes in Sleep Patterns

Depression affects your sleep in two different ways. You could end up having too much or too little sleep.

When having excess sleep, you won’t feel like getting out of bed. You might even wake up but not get out of bed. You’ll just want to stay in bed and will even feel like you won’t be able to do any work if you get up.

During the moments of reduced sleep, you will first of all have trouble getting to sleep. You’re likely to stay up—even when in bed—thinking about your condition or other stressful situation.

The lack of sleep can make things worse by increasing your stress levels. Lack of sleep often leads to stress and stress also results in sleep problems.

3. Changes in Appetite (and Weight)

Depression affects your appetite too. For some people, depression might result in a lack of appetite while for others it may be an increase in it.

You may find yourself having no desire to eat at all.

Despite the concerns of your loved ones, you’ll still eat eat nothing or very little food. Even your favorite meal may not look or smell so good any more.

The other end of the appetite problem is over-eating. You may have an insatiable appetite that is actually dangerous to your health.

With appetite problems come weight issues. Weight gain or loss are expected if you have depression. And since this negatively affects your health, it will only worsen the situation by increasing your stress levels.

4. Loss or Decrease in Energy

Apart from the lack of energy obviously caused by not eating, depression also causes fatigue. You’ll feel weak and lacking in energy and won’t feel like doing any work.

Fatigue can greatly reduce your productivity. Coupled with something like excess sleep, both caused by depression, your life may feel like it’s grinding to a halt.

Your job or business will be affected and so will your family. Generally, the quality of your life reduces and a heavier emotional burden comes upon you.

5. Restlessness and Irritability

Another symptom of clinical depression is restlessness and irritability. Depression increase your chances of reacting to situations you would otherwise have ignored.

Being irritable, you will often lash out at those close to you causing them to be afraid of interactions with you.

You will also find it difficult to have peace of mind and this may translate into action.

You may not be able to sit down and relax as others do. You may feel like you should do something yet don’t know what.

Fatigue may also affect your ability to do anything. You may also experience some anxiety during this time.

6. Reduced Interest and Enjoyment of Activities Normally Enjoyed

This is a sure sign which is clearly connected to the feelings of sadness which you feel when depressed.

If you have depression, you’ll automatically lack interest in previously-enjoyable activities.

Whatever games you used to enjoy—whether playing or watching, whatever activities you used to engage in, all these become uninteresting.

As others enjoy themselves, you might be watching them wondering what fun there is in the activities.

7. Inability to Concentrate and Make Decisions

While suffering from depression, it becomes impossible to concentrate on any given task. Finishing assignments become difficult and any work done is likely to be full of mistakes.

If you’re working, you may be called out for mistakes or errors and inaccuracies in your work or reports. Team members may mention your poor performance.

Something similar will happen at home. You might find yourself for example breaking glasses while washing the dishes. And with poor concentration, you may not remember to do all you were supposed to do.

The situation can become manageable with a diagnosis and treatment. This helps people around you know what you’re going through.

Apart from the love and care they will show, you also avoid the pressure to be more productive than you can really be.

8. Suicidal Thoughts and Actions

One of the most dangerous symptoms of depression is having suicidal thoughts. These can be followed by attempts to commit suicide.

These will normally come at an advanced stage of depression.

Note however that depression itself is an advanced mental condition. So even at the moment of diagnosis, suicidal thoughts might just be lurking around.

It’s important to be aware of the signs of suicidal thoughts and potential action, so that you seek help quickly.

Here are some of the signs you can look out for while seeking to prevent self-harm and suicide.

  • Always thinking or talking about death – this might be in the form of thinking or saying how death eliminates pain, dead people are stress-free etc. You might also be thinking or saying how you have nothing to live for, you’re worthless, hopeless etc
  • Engaging in risky behavior which could lead to death – you might get involved in drug abuse, driving through red lights, driving while under the influence of drugs, pulling off stunts etc. These are habits which have the potential of leading to death.
  • Suddenly switching from sadness to extreme calmness – this can be in anticipation of the expected rest you hope to get in death. It can also be that you have already given up on life. You’re not looking forward to any positive changes.
  • Writing a will – whereas writing a will is not a bad thing in itself, when you write or edit a will at a time when you’re suffering from depression, it indicates possible suicidal thoughts. It could be that you’re putting things in order in preparation of your death.
  • Visiting or calling close friends and family – you might start calling or visiting family members wanting to know how they are fairing while seeking forgiveness for past wrongs. If you feel an urge to do this or see someone do this, urgently seek help.

Help in such a time is available. Please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on 1-800-273-TALK (8255).


That is clinical depression or major depressive disorder. So, what is manic depression or bipolar disorder?

Basically, manic depression is clinical depression with additional symptoms. The additional symptoms are those related to mania.

If you have had at least one clinical depression experience in your life, and have the symptoms we will discuss below, then you qualify for a diagnosis of manic depression.

This mental condition is responsible for extreme shifts in moods. The mood alternates between highs (mania) and lows (depression). It’s from this characteristic mood changes that manic depression got the name bipolar disorder.

“Bi” means two. For people with manic depression, they have two distinct states of moods i.e. mania (highs) and depression (lows). These are the two “poles” which make up a bipolar disorder.

This is also the reason why clinical depression is said to be unipolar while manic depression is bipolar. Depression consists of one extreme, the lows, while manic depression consists of two poles, the lows and highs.

Manic or depression episodes can last anywhere from hours or days to weeks and months. These episodes are also unpredictable.

The good news is that the condition is treatable. Treatment is usually done through medication and counseling.

Check out the below numbers on manic depression.

Source: Healthline

Source: Healthline

Both conditions can lead to suicide if left untreated. Treatment is dependent on accurate diagnosis and this is a challenging part of the treatment. It’s easy to misdiagnose the condition.

Misdiagnosis is common especially because people with bipolar disorder often only seek treatment during depressive episodes. As such, they usually get diagnosed with depression.

To avoid this, it’s important that patients open up and share as much information as possible with the mental health expert.

Close friends and family can also help in this by telling the therapist about manic episodes as well as the depressive ones.


Manic depression has all the symptoms of clinical depression. This is why a diagnosis must include at least one episode of clinical depression.

For distinction however, manic depression, or bipolar disorder (BD) has its own set of unique symptoms.

Here is a list of them.

1. Feelings of Extreme Happiness

Whereas depression is characterized by feelings of extreme sadness, manic depression is distinguished by feelings of extreme happiness. These feelings are what make up the manic episodes.

Since BD is usually a cycle alternating between depressive and manic episodes, feelings of happiness are very evident. If you go through weeks or months of extreme sadness then get into a period of extreme happiness, then that’s a clear sign of BD.

2. Engaging in Risky Behaviors

If you have feelings of extreme happiness, you’re likely to engage in hyper activity. This is quite normal even for people not having manic depression.

But there is a difference. If you have BD, you’ll likely go overboard.

Examples of some risky activities you might engage in include going on shopping sprees, sexual indiscretion and even substance abuse.

These not only affect you in different ways e.g. health and finances, they also affect your relationships. Endangering your life causes those close to you anxiety since they don’t know what you could do next.

3. Grandiose Plans

Having elated moods, you might feel invincible. Nothing will look too big for you since you get the feeling that you can do and accomplish anything.

You can decide to start a new project which is bigger than any previous one. You can also jump from a current project and start a new and bigger one.

This can lead to hasty decisions which are wrong though you may not see it.

4. Reduced Sleep

Still connected to the elated mood, you’ll experience decreased sleep. But unlike the sleep problems in depressive episodes, you’ll not have fatigue. In this case, you’ll have energy in your body and may want to do any or many different things.

Little or lack of sleep in bipolar disorder can keep you up at night, at a time when you can’t really do much. You may find yourself looking for activities to undertake yet the best thing to do would be to sleep.

If you for example work from home, this might be an opportunity to use up the energy in a good way. However, the problem comes in when even the following day, you still can’t sleep.

Keeping in mind that manic and depressive episodes can last for weeks or even months, this can be stressful.

Watch the below video to see how insomnia is a part of manic episodes.

5. Racing Thoughts and Rapid Speech

Another BD symptom is that you’ll have racing thoughts. This can also contribute to the feeling of restlessness mentioned above.

These racing thoughts will be easily recognizable. You’re likely to verbalize them and what will come out is interesting. You’ll be speaking quickly.

Just as fast as your thoughts are flowing, so will you try to speak. It’s an attempt to communicate every thought that comes through your mind.


Both forms of depression are treatable though BD could take longer. You can get relief from depression in as little as a few weeks though the period could be longer.

To benefit from the treatment, it’s important to adhere to the treatment plan.

Depression also has a high relapse rate. That is another reason why you should be careful to stick to the treatment being provided.

Depression is primarily treated through anti-depressant drugs such as Fluoxetine (Prozac), Venlafaxine (Effexor) and Mirtazapine (Remeron).

Treatment for BD includes anti-depressant drugs just like depression. There are also some drugs which are specific to BD like Lithium (Eskalith, Lithobid) and Lamotrigine (Lamictal) which is an anti-convulsant.

In conjunction with medication, both conditions utilize Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to help recognize and counteract negative emotions.

For manic depression, CBT is especially helpful in recognizing the mood swings early enough to get help on time.


There you go. You now are clear on the difference between depression and manic depression.

And with the symptoms of both, you can easily recognize both conditions either on yourself or on someone else. This helps in seeking help early enough to avoid cases of suicide.

What’s the Difference Between Depression and Manic Depression

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