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Prbahakaran and manic depression

By Saybhan Samat

(April 17, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian)It is frequently reported that the L.T.T.E leader is suffering from a mental illness termed manic depression. This report has made many curious of what this ailment is and the causes for this illness. Manic depression also known as bi-polar depression 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 relation ships, poor job or school performance and even suicide. Manic –depression distorts moods and thoughts, incites dreadful behaviours, destroys the basis of rational thought and too often erodes the desire and will to live. It is an illness that is biological in its origins, yet one that feels psychological in the experience of it; an illness that is unique in conferring advantage and pleasure, yet one that brings in its wake almost unendurable suffering and, not frequently suicide. No specific causes may be related to manic –depression, psychiatrists recently claim that although manic depression is not directly inherited people who have a parent affected are more likely to develop the disorder. Further bio-chemical factors can cause mania like depression on account of a chemical imbalance in the neuro transmitters in the brain. Stress may play a part in triggering symptoms in vulnerable persons.

The latest research reveals that the illness results from a chemical imbalance in the brain which can be triggered by a combination of biological, genetic and environmental factors. Sometimes unexpected and alarming life events such as the loss of a loved one, or even positive life changes can trigger manic-depression. It is generally preceded by clinical or major depression but can also occur by itself.

Manic depression occurs in episodes, that is one is hyper-active and over confident at one extreme and then depressed and suicidal at the other extreme. A manic episode is an abnormally elevated unrestrained or irritable mood, not related to substance abuse or a medical condition. It lasts for at least a week or for months and includes a number of disturbances in behaviour and thinking that results in significant life adjustment problems. Delusion and hallucination may also occur.

Some people report feeling very good during the beginning of a manic episode, which is the result of a serious judgment problem. Taking uncalculated risks, grandiose thinking, irritability, feeling full of energy and restlessness, rapid talking and an exaggerated belief in one’s abilities are typical during a manic episode. Such people may get into illogical arguments. Others may experience severe anxiety and panic. There behaviour may result in considerable painful consequences such as the loss of job, broken-relationships, or running up excessive debts due to their inability to think rational manner.

At the other extreme, patients go through a severe depressive phase. During this time they experiences persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety, pathological guilt, loss of self-esteem, apathy loss of will and morbid hopelessness. Disturbance in sleep and appetite as well as fatigue are common. They lose interest in daily activities, are unable to concentrate and may even resort to suicide.

Nobody is aware as to when the first symptoms of manic-depression appeared in Prabhakaran. Judging from his behavior and the tactics he adopted in the LTTE’s confrontation with Sri Lankan army and his own fellow Tamils, he may perhaps have been in a manic-state. He’s sudden silence and reclusiveness sometimes, suggests that he may have been in a depressive state.

Manic-depression is classified under the medical term of psychosis. Psychosis is a general term to describe a mental health problem in which a persons has lost some contact with reality. There are severe disturbances in thinking, emotion and behaviour. Psychosis severely disrupts a person’s life. Relationships, work and self-care are difficult to initiate and or maintain. One wonders whether Prabhakaran was a victim of his illness. However those around him aware of his ailment should have dislodged him out of his leadership and appointed a more pragmatic and mentally balanced person as leader. May be if that was done the war would have ended a long time ago after successful peaceful negotiations.
-Sri Lanka Guardian

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