How Therapy Can Help Students With Manic Depression

Manic depression or bipolar disorder is a neurobiological disorder affecting the brain’s functions. Symptoms of this condition can be difficult to manage, especially for kids and teens. Some signs of early bipolar disorder in adolescents can include impulsivity, talkativeness, and a short attention span, all of which can negatively impact their academic performance.


Beyond academic performance, untreated manic depression can result in serious problems such as substance abuse and suicide attempts. Despite all these challenges, students with manic depression can still succeed in the classroom. So early diagnosis and treatment would be most helpful to combat future problems. To help them understand their condition, support and mental health resources must also be readily accessible.

What Is Manic Depression?

Studies show that depressive disorders affect 1 out of every 7 people in the United States. Manic depression, more commonly known as bipolar disorder, is a mental health condition that affects how a person’s brain functions. People with manic depression have their moods swing from extreme emotional highs to extreme emotional lows. The highs are called mania, while the lows are depression.

Two distinct types of manic depression differ in the severity of manic episodes. Bipolar 1 disorder is characterized by experiencing at least one manic episode that precedes a major depressive episode. Some people with bipolar 1 also experience psychosis. On the other hand, people with bipolar 2 disorder experience at least one depressive episode and one hypomanic episode. Symptoms for episodes include: 

For Manic Episodes

  • abnormal hyperactivity or agitation
  • exaggerated self-confidence (euphoria)
  • lack of sleep
  • impulsive behavior

For Depressive Episodes

  • feeling sad or hopeless
  • loss of interest in hobbies
  • weight loss or gain
  • sleeping problems
  • loss of energy
  • suicidal thoughts

What Causes Manic Depression?

While there is no exact known cause for bipolar disorder, several factors may lead to it. These include:

  • biological makeup
  • genetics 
  • family history
  • traumatic experiences
  • substance abuse

Your genetics contribute to a higher risk if an immediate family member also has bipolar disorder. Traumatic episodes, such as losing a loved one or exposure to violence, can also trigger an episode of mania or depression.

Researchers have also agreed that genetic and environmental factors are involved. They found out that bipolar disorder is a condition caused by chemical imbalances in the brain. That is, the brain’s mood-regulating system does not function as it should.

How Can Manic Depression Affect Students?

At least one million American children and teens struggle with bipolar disorder. It’s also been observed that those with bipolar disorder are more likely to have poor academic performance. Consequently, they are also more vulnerable to substance abuse and suicide. 


The first episodes of bipolar disorder often show up in adolescence. Children may not have the same symptoms of bipolar disorder that adults have. But they experience extremely rapid mood swings, including agitation and anxiety. 

A student with bipolar disorder can suffer from cognitive deficits, even when their mood is stable. These deficits include the inability to do the following: 

  • pay attention
  • remember information
  • think critically
  • organize information
  • solve problems

Because brain function is affected, students with bipolar disorder think, act, and feel are also altered. 

It can be challenging to face this disorder all by yourself. Moreover, symptoms of manic depression are often mistaken for other mental health conditions, such as ADHD and borderline personality disorder. So seeking a proper mental health professional for an accurate diagnosis will be beneficial. 

How Therapy Can Help Students

Seeking help from a mental health professional is the first step towards healing. Therapy makes use of different methods to cater to each patient’s needs. Psychotherapy, with its various treatments, is used to treat manic depression. 

For example, in cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT, manic depression is treated one-on-one with a therapist. The primary goal of CBT is to help you approach your thoughts differently, so when you start having manic or depressive thoughts, you can find a way out of it. CBT is short-term and focused on eliminating specific problems, making it incredibly useful for students suffering from manic depression.

CBT works by helping you identify thoughts that contribute to your emotional distress. Therapists challenge these thoughts with you by coming up with different explanations, giving you a more objective perspective. CBT can help you better understand your mental health condition and relieve you from emotional highs and lows. 


Students can also join support groups that will help encourage them to develop coping skills and give them a safe space to voice their concerns. Support groups will also help them feel less alone in their problems. Through the experience of others, they can get a better understanding of how to cope with their condition.

Other Therapy Remedies For Manic Depression

While going to therapy and seeking guidance from a mental health professional is effective, long-term changes in your behavior can start with yourself. You can do so by developing good habits for keeping yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy through:


  1. Proper Exercise 

Physical activity is greatly effective at battling symptoms of depression. Studies suggest that 30 minutes of exercise three times a week is enough to see positive results from exercise. 

  1. Meditation 

Yoga and meditation can help relieve stress and tension. Deep breathing exercises in yoga can potentially adjust the nervous system to reduce stress hormones.


  1. Sticking To A Routine

This means going to bed at consistent hours every day and structuring your day. Simple self-care activities, such as making your bed, showering in the morning, and preparing a healthy breakfast can help prevent symptoms of depression. You can try making a list of things you need to do within the day to help you feel more productive and accomplished. 


Symptoms of manic depression in children and teens can be difficult to diagnose at an early age. So, manic depression can make life and school more challenging than they should be. Students need proper access to mental health resources, as depression can negatively impact their academic performance.

If they suffer from drastic mood swings, their brain functions may hinder them from academic success. Despite these challenges, students can still succeed in the classroom when given the support they need. With therapy, students can better understand how their condition affects them, and it can greatly benefit them in finding ways to cope with manic depression.