What is mania?

Kelly Davis, Mental Health America

Mania is a period of extreme high energy or mood. It looks different for some people but generally includes a serious change in sleep, activity, and impulsivity. People feel unstoppable and invincible, often starting new businesses or taking on massive new projects. Risky behavior, like sudden or dramatically increased drug use, sex, and spending, is also common. People’s thoughts may race and others might find it difficult to keep up with what they are saying. An important factor is that mania causes problems for people’s lives even though it feels really good while a person is experiencing mania. Mania or “manic episodes” can also include psychosis. Someone experiencing psychosis might:

  • See or hear things that other people cannot see or hear
  • Experience a constant feeling of being watched
  • Speak or write in ways that seems disorganized or bizarre to others
  • Experience intense fears or suspicions about people close to them, strangers, or organizations

Experiencing psychosis can be related to lack of sleep associated with mania.

It’s important to remember that people who are usually impulsive or typically don’t need very much sleep are not experiencing mania. Everyone’s moods and energy levels changes throughout the day and over periods of time. Mania, which can last for days to months, is a serious change from the way a person normally thinks or behaves. It makes sense that this could cause serious problems in their relationships, work, and school.

Hypomania is considered a less severe form of mania. People still experience a serious change in mood and energy and are likely to have changes in sleep, activity, and impulsivity. It’s impact on people’s daily lives, however, is not as severe as that seen in full mania and is not associated with psychosis. Many people experiencing mania are hospitalized, however hospitalization is not as common for people experiencing hypomania. Because it is less disruptive, it often goes unnoticed or unreported.

Mania and hypomania are both associated with types of Bipolar Disorder.

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