Mania is a period of extreme high energy or mood associated with bipolar disorder. Everyone’s moods and energy levels change throughout the day and over time. But mania is a serious change from the way a person normally thinks or behaves, and it can last for weeks or even months. It makes sense that this could cause serious problems in a person’s relationships, work, and school.
Mania looks different for everyone, but it generally includes some of the following:
- having lots of energy
- feeling “euphoric” (extremely excited and happy, or even “high”)
- feeling unstoppable or invincible
- mind racing
- speaking very quickly (mental health professionals call this “pressured speech”)
- strange or unusual behavior
- easily distracted or annoyed
- not sleeping
- impulsive behavior
- intense anxiety
- feeling detached from reality (psychosis)
People with bipolar disorder often have mixed feelings about their mania. You may have heard stories of artists and musicians with bipolar disorder who made their most creative work while manic. It’s common for people to take on massive new projects, like starting a new business. Feeling invincible can inspire you to be more adventurous, but it can also lead to risky behavior. Sudden increases in drug use, unprotected sex, or spending too much money are common. Even though mania usually feels really good in the moment, it still causes problems for people’s lives. Sometimes, mania can even lead to hospitalization.
It’s important to note that these are drastic changes from what a person is typically like. If someone always speaks quickly, makes impulsive decisions, and doesn’t sleep much, those aren’t signs of a manic episode.
Mania can also include psychotic symptoms. Someone experiencing psychosis might:
- see or hear things that other people can’t (hallucinations)
- speak or in a way that seems disorganized or bizarre to others
- be fearful or suspicious of friends or family members, strangers, or organizations (paranoia)
- feel like they’re being watched
Hypomania is a less intense form of mania. The symptoms are similar, but its impact on people’s daily lives is not as severe. It does not involve psychotic symptoms and rarely leads to hospitalization. Because it is less disruptive, it often goes unnoticed or unreported. Hypomania is most common in bipolar II and cyclothymia.