Mania causes atypically high levels of physical and mental energy in people with bipolar disorder. Hypomania causes these same symptoms, but they’re not as intense or long lasting.

Mania and hypomania are symptoms that can occur with bipolar disorder. They can also occur in people who don’t have bipolar disorder.

What is mania?

Mania is more than just having extra energy. It’s a mood disturbance that makes you atypically energized, both physically and mentally, for a week or more. Mania can be severe enough to require you to be hospitalized.

Mania can occur in people with bipolar I disorder. In many cases of bipolar I, manic episodes can alternate with periods of depression.

However, people with bipolar I disorder don’t always have depressive episodes, and it’s very common for an individual to have more typical moods in between episodes.

What is hypomania?

Hypomania is a milder form of mania. If you’re experiencing hypomania, your energy level is higher than usual, but it’s not as extreme as in mania, and it may only last for a few days.

Other people may notice if you have hypomania, but in many cases, you won’t need to be hospitalized for it.

People with bipolar II disorder may experience hypomania that alternates with depression, or they may have more typical emotional states in between each.

The main differences between mania and hypomania are the intensity of the symptoms and how long those symptoms last. Symptoms of mania are much more intense than those of hypomania and can last for a week or more.

Symptoms of mania and hypomania

While they vary in intensity, most of the symptoms of mania and hypomania are the same. The key symptoms include:

  • having higher-than-typical energy levels
  • being restless or unable to sit still
  • having a decreased need for sleep
  • having increased self-esteem or confidence, or grandiosity
  • being more talkative
  • having a racing mind, or having lots of new ideas and plans
  • having decreased inhibitions
  • having increased sexual desire
  • engaging in potentially risky behavior that may be atypical for you, such as having impulsive sex, gambling with life savings, or going on big spending sprees

The slight differences between mania and hypomania include:

Your behavior is so extreme that regular activities cannot be maintained.People might notice changes, but your regular activities may still be maintained.
Delusions or hallucinations may occur.Typically, delusions and hallucinations do not occur.
Feelings of invincibility are common.Risk-taking is common.
You may feel “detached” from reality.You may feel easily distracted.

During a manic or hypomanic phase, you may not be able to recognize these changes in yourself.

The more severe symptoms of mania

Unlike hypomanic episodes, manic episodes can lead to serious consequences. When the mania subsides, you may experience remorse or depression for things you’ve done during the episode.

With mania, you may also have a break with reality. Psychotic symptoms can include:

Mania and hypomania are common symptoms of bipolar disorder. However, they can also be brought on by:

The exact cause of bipolar disorder is unclear. Family history may play a role. You may be more likely to develop bipolar disorder if you have a family history of the illness.

Brain structure may also play a role, but there isn’t enough research to draw conclusions about this.

You’re at an increased risk of mania or hypomania if you’ve already had an episode. Your risk may also increase if you have bipolar disorder and are unable to take your medications as your doctor prescribes.

Mania and hypomania, as well as bipolar disorder itself, can’t be prevented. However, you can take steps to lessen the effects of an episode.

Maintaining your support systems and working with a mental health professional are two methods to lessen the possibility of an episode, as well as manage one if it occurs.

Above all, if you have a treatment plan, it’s important to stick with it. Take your medications as prescribed and keep an open line of communication with your doctor. Working together, you and your doctor can manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life.

“Bipolar mania can be a scary thing to experience. But the good news is that bipolar disorder is treatable. Since receiving my diagnosis, I’ve found the right medication and the right dosage so that day-to-day life is totally normal.”

— Mara Robinson

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If you believe you may be dealing with symptoms of mania, hypomania, or bipolar disorder itself, it’s a good idea to talk with your regular doctor first. During your appointment, your doctor will likely take your medical history and do a physical exam.

It’s important that you tell your doctor about all the prescription and over-the-counter medications and supplements you take, as well as any illegal drugs you may have taken.

If your doctor suspects you are indeed dealing with mania or hypomania, they will likely refer you to a mental health professional for an actual diagnosis.

Diagnosing mania and hypomania can be complicated. For instance, you may not be aware of some symptoms or how long you’ve been having them.

Also, if you have depression but your doctor is unaware of your manic or hypomanic behavior, they may diagnose you with depression instead of bipolar disorder.

In addition, other health conditions can cause mania and hypomania.

Diagnosing mania

In most cases, symptoms must last at least a week for your doctor to diagnose them as mania. However, if your symptoms are so severe that you’re hospitalized, a diagnosis can be made even if the symptoms last for a shorter time.

Diagnosing hypomania

Your symptoms must persist for at least 4 days for your doctor to diagnose hypomania.

To treat mania and hypomania, your doctor may prescribe psychotherapy as well as medication. The medication can include mood stabilizers and antipsychotics.

You may need to try several different medications before your doctor discovers the right combination to treat your symptoms effectively.

It’s important that you take your medication as your doctor prescribes. Even if you have side effects from the drugs, it can be dangerous to stop taking your medication without your doctor’s supervision.

If you have problems with side effects, talk with your doctor. They may be able to switch you to a different kind of treatment that isn’t so difficult on your body.

For hypomania, it’s often possible to cope without medication. Healthy lifestyle habits can help, such as:

  • maintaining a balanced, nutritious diet
  • getting physical activity every day
  • keeping a regular sleep schedule and prioritizing rest
  • keeping a journal that notes any mood changes or changes pointed out by loved ones

These tips can help you cope with mania and hypomania:

  • Learning all you can about your condition. Mania and hypomania can be managed. Learn to recognize personal triggers so you can do your best to avoid them if possible.
  • Keeping a mood diary. By charting your moods, you might be able to spot early warning signs. With your doctor’s help, you may also be able to prevent an episode from worsening. For instance, if you learn to spot the early warning signs of a manic episode, you can work with your doctor to manage it.
  • Staying in treatment. If you have bipolar disorder, treatment is key. It might even be a good idea to get your family involved in therapy.
  • Watching for suicidal thoughts. If you have thoughts of self-harm, speak with a trusted friend or family member immediately or contact a suicide prevention hotline.
  • Reaching out to others for help. Asking for help is a strength, not a weakness. Talk with loved ones about your situation and how they can best help you succeed. Look up support groups for individuals living with bipolar disorder. The more support you have, the less alone you may feel.

Suicide prevention

If you have thoughts of harming yourself, tell your family or doctor right away.

You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255). Trained counselors are available 24/7.

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Mania and hypomania are two common symptoms of bipolar disorder, but they can occur outside of that disorder as well. Both mania and hypomania can cause a marked increase in energy, uplifted emotions, risk-taking behaviors, and irritability.

While the episode may feel good while it’s occurring, both conditions can cause an individual to do things they might regret later.

Mania can be especially harmful if not properly managed.

Although these two mental health conditions share similar characteristics, the big differences between mania and hypomania are the severity and the length of time an episode lasts.

If you believe you or someone you love is experiencing a manic or hypomanic episode, talk with a mental health professional as soon as you can.

Manic episodes can be treated with medication, therapy, and support. Hypomanic episodes can sometimes be managed with lifestyle changes instead of medication.