August 4, 2021

What is Mania in Bipolar Disorder?

By Marie Miguel

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Bipolar disorder is a common mental health condition characterized by episodes of depression and mania or hypomania. But, what is mania, exactly?

About Bipolar Disorder

On any given year, 2.8% of those aged 18 or older live with Bipolar disorder in the United States alone. Bipolar disorder can impact anyone. Episodes of depression and mania seen in those with Bipolar disorder span outside of the typical highs and lows we all face. There’s more than one diagnosis under the category of Bipolar and Related Disorders in the DSM.

Most commonly, you will hear about Bipolar I disorder, Bipolar II disorder, and cyclothymic disorder. The difference between Bipolar I disorder and Bipolar II disorder relates to mania. To be diagnosed with Bipolar I disorder, you must have experienced at least one manic episode lasting for at least seven days, or any length of time if hospitalization occurs as a result of symptoms, where those with Bipolar II must have had at least one hypomanic episode lasting four days or more but will not have had a full-blown manic episode.

What Is Mania In Bipolar Disorder?

Mania is characterized by an elevated, irritable, or expansive mood. Here are some common signs and symptoms of mania to look out for:

  • An elevated mood
  • Abnormally high energy levels
  • Feeling jumpy or “high”
  • Irritability or becoming easily agitated
  • Rapid speech, pressured speech, or abnormal talkativeness
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Loss of appetite
  • Racing thoughts
  • Impulsive or risky behavior
  • Distractibility
  • Grandiose thinking
  • Inflated self-esteem

Some people wonder how to differentiate hypomania from mania or a manic episode. Hypomania is a lower-level form of mania where these symptoms will be present but less severe.

What Happens During a Depressive Episode?

Depressive episodes in those with Bipolar disorder may include but aren’t limited to symptoms such as a low or depressed mood, a loss of interest in activities one would typically enjoy, changes in appetite, sleeping too much or too little, fatigue or tiredness, excessive crying, irritability, and more. It’s very much a contrast to the feeling someone experiences during a manic episode. Those with Bipolar disorder are not always manic, but they’re also not always depressed.

People with Bipolar disorder experience alternating depressive episodes and manic or hypomanic episodes, but it’s important to know that there can also be long periods of time in between episodes of mania, hypomania, or depression where a person is at a baseline level. Though your provider may adjust treatment based on your episodes, any ongoing treatment should not be stopped abruptly or because you are not currently experiencing an episode unless otherwise stated by a trusted medical provider.

Treatment For Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is often best treated by a combination of medication and talk therapy. To receive a formal diagnosis of Bipolar disorder, you must see a provider who is qualified to diagnose mental health conditions, such as a psychiatrist or general doctor. If you notice the symptoms of Bipolar disorder in yourself, it’s crucial to reach out for care. With professional support, those with Bipolar disorder can lead a long, happy, and healthy life. Please consult with your doctor or primary care physician (PCP) before considering any medication options.

Find a Therapist

Whether you’re struggling with symptoms of a mental health condition, interpersonal relationships, life stressors, or anything else that’s on your mind, a counselor or therapist can help. To find a therapist, you can contact your insurance company to see who they cover, ask your doctor for a referral to someone in your area, search the web, or sign up for a reputable online therapy website like BetterHelp. Regardless of how you find a therapist or counselor, you deserve to find support that meets your needs.

BetterHelp does not provide crisis care or medication services. If you are in need of immediate support, go to your nearest emergency room.


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About the author

Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.


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