What You Should Know About Mania vs. Hypomania

Medically reviewed by Timothy J. Legg, PhD, PsyD, CRNP, ACRN, CPH on February 15, 2018Written by Ann Pietrangelo on May 3, 2016

Highlights

  1. The symptoms of mania and hypomania are similar, but those of mania are more intense.
  2. If you experience mania or hypomania, you may have bipolar disorder.
  3. Psychotherapy and antipsychotic drugs can be used to treat mania and hypomania. Lifestyle changes alone may help treat hypomania.

What are mania and hypomania?

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 to burn. It’s a mood disturbance that makes you abnormally energized, both physically and mentally. Mania can be severe enough to require you to be hospitalized.

Mania occurs in people with bipolar I disorder. In many cases of bipolar I, manic episodes alternate with periods of depression. However, people with bipolar I don’t always have depressive episodes.

What is hypomania?

Hypomania is a milder form of mania. If you’re experiencing hypomania, your energy level is higher than normal, but it’s not as extreme as in mania. Other people will notice if you have hypomania. It causes problems in your life, but not to the extent that mania can. If you have hypomania, you won’t need to be hospitalized for it.

People with bipolar II disorder may experience hypomania that alternates with depression.

What are the symptoms of mania and hypomania?

The main difference between mania and hypomania is the intensity of the symptoms. Symptoms of mania are much more intense than those of hypomania.

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-normal energy levels
  • being restless or unable to sit still
  • having a decreased need for sleep
  • having increased self-esteem or confidence, or grandiosity
  • being extremely talkative
  • having a racing mind, or having lots of new ideas and plans
  • being easily distracted
  • taking on multiple projects with no way of finishing them
  • having decreased inhibitions
  • having increased sexual desire
  • engaging in risky behavior, such as having impulsive sex, gambling with life savings, or going on big spending sprees

During a manic or hypomanic phase, you may not be able to recognize these changes in yourself. If others mention that you’re not acting like yourself, you’re not likely to think that anything’s wrong.

The more severe symptoms of mania

Unlike hypomanic episodes, manic episodes can lead to serious consequences. When the mania subsides, you may be left with 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:

What are the causes and risk factors?

Mania and hypomania are 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’re more likely to develop bipolar disorder if you have a family history of the illness. Bipolar disorder may also involve a chemical imbalance in the brain.

You’re at increased risk of mania or hypomania if you’ve already had an episode. You may also increase your risk if you have bipolar disorder and don’t take your medications as your doctor prescribes.

How are they diagnosed?

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 (OTC) medications and supplements you take, as well as any illicit drugs you may have taken.

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 manic or hypomanic behavior, they may diagnose you with depression instead of bipolar disorder.

In addition, other health conditions can cause mania and hypomania. Plus, an overactive thyroid gland can cause symptoms that mimic hypomania or mania.

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

You must have at least three of the symptoms listed above under “Symptoms” for at least four days for your doctor to diagnose hypomania.

ManiaHypomania
causes more extreme symptomscauses less extreme symptoms
typically involves an episode that lasts one week or longertypically involves an episode that lasts at least four days
may lead to hospitalizationdoesn’t lead to hospitalization
can be a symptom of bipolar I disordercan be a symptom of bipolar II disorder

How are hypomania and mania treated?

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 to your doctor. They’ll be able to help.

For hypomania, it’s often possible to cope without medication. Healthy lifestyle habits can help. Maintain a healthy diet, get a little exercise every day, and go to bed on schedule every night. Not getting enough sleep can trigger hypomania. You might also want to avoid too much caffeine.

Coping with mania and hypomania

These tips can help you cope with mania and hypomania:

Learn all you can about your condition

Mania and hypomania can be managed. Learn to recognize triggers so you can avoid them.

Keep 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 keep it under control.

Stay in treatment

If you have bipolar disorder, treatment is key. It might even be a good idea to get your family involved in therapy.

Watch for suicidal thoughts

If you have thoughts of harming yourself, tell your family or doctor right away. You can also call the at 800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255). Trained counselors are available 24/7.

Reach out to others for help

You can join a for people with bipolar disorder. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Can mania or hypomania be prevented?

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. Maintain your support systems and use the coping strategies listed above.

Above all, stick with your treatment plan. 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.

CMS Id: 103081