Understanding the Difference Between Mania and Hypomania

When it comes to mental health discussions, the most common disorders brought up are depression and anxiety. This is because they are more well-known, but we must open up the discourse to discuss other conditions to educate and help those struggling and provide more visibility to less common mental health disorders. One such topic not often discussed is bipolar disorder. Many people have heard of it and may have even seen it portrayed on television or in movies, but these portrayals are often inaccurate. More importantly, they do not discuss the nitty-gritty of the disorder, such as the differences between mania and hypomania. By discussing important topics like these, more people can get the help they need by finally putting a name to their feelings and experiences. This is the difference between mania and hypomania. 

What is Mania?

Manic episodes are a defining characteristic of bipolar I disorder. They are thought to be sudden bursts of energy that just need to be burned off, but they are actually mood disturbances. Mania can make you feel increasingly energized to the point that it is dangerous and may require hospitalization. This energy can affect your mental and physical state, causing you to enter an almost euphoric state. Mania is typically accompanied by periods of depression, thus portraying symptoms of bipolar I disorder. Manic episodes include various symptoms such as racing thoughts, exaggerated ideas, rapid speech, restlessness, and irritability. More severe symptoms of mania include delusion, paranoia, and hallucinations. Episodes usually last one week or more.

What is Hypomania?

As the name suggests, hypomania is a less severe form of mania that lasts at least four days. It is a characteristic of bipolar II disorder as well as cyclothymic disorder. It still increases your energy, but not on the same significant scale as mania does. The symptoms are still noticeable and can result in restlessness, racing thoughts, a decreased need for sleep, becoming easily distracted, and engaging in risky behavior. Hypomanic episodes are not as severe as mania because they don’t include the more intense symptoms. Still, hypomanic states are noticeable to those around you and cause a noticeable change in your behavior.

How Are They Diagnosed?

As you can see, mania and hypomania have many similarities that can make them confusing for most people to identify. However, doctors can provide an accurate diagnosis depending on the severity and longevity of your symptoms. For example, if your symptoms last a week, the doctor will most likely diagnose you with mania. However, a diagnosis can be made in a shorter amount of time if the symptoms are severe enough for you to be hospitalized. To be diagnosed with hypomania, you must exhibit at least three of the symptoms listed above for four days. Once you have a diagnosis, you can begin seeking treatment to manage your symptoms.

Treating Mania and Hypomania

To treat manic and hypomanic symptoms, doctors will usually use a combination of psychotherapy and medication. Psychotherapy helps individuals learn how to identify negative emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in their lives and then change them into more positive ones. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is commonly used to treat bipolar disorder. Individuals can also use medications alongside therapy to manage symptoms. Antipsychotics and mood stabilizers are the most common medicines used, but other medications that target sleep issues or anxiety may also be used. Patients should take medication according to the doctor’s instructions for the best results. 

It should be noted that hypomania can be treated without medication, as making specific lifestyle changes can help. Getting enough exercise, eating a healthy diet, and getting sufficient sleep can help you combat hypomanic episodes. However, the depressive episodes of bipolar II disorder may require medication. 

Risk Factors

Bipolar disorder can crossover with other illnesses such as eating disorders, anxiety, or addiction. This can worsen symptoms and lead to further problems down the road. It is not uncommon for individuals with bipolar disorder to self-medicate to cope with their symptoms. Self-medication can be potentially dangerous, especially if the person has a manic episode. They are more likely to engage in impulsive, risky behavior in this state, and the presence of drugs and alcohol can only exacerbate this. Over time, repeated drug and alcohol abuse can worsen symptoms of bipolar disorder, causing the person to self-medicate more. This is how they get trapped in the cycle of addiction. Proper treatment is needed to provide a successful recovery, so it is best to seek help from professionals rather than attempting to self-medicate on your own.

Many individuals know about bipolar disorder from what they see in movies or hear on the news. However, these portrayals are typically inaccurate and cause significant stigma towards those struggling with the condition. Discussing the specifics related to bipolar disorder can give people a better idea of its symptoms and reduce the negative stereotyping caused by the media. Mania and hypomania are two common symptoms of bipolar disorder that are often not discussed. By educating people on these subjects, NorthStar Transitions hopes to reach those that are currently struggling. We offer various treatment programs concerning addiction and mental health that are tailored to your specific recovery needs. Come out to our Colorado facility and learn more about the world of recovery. Reclaim your life today and call us at (303) 558-6400 to get started. Remember, you are deserving of a happy and healthy life no matter who you are or what you’ve been through.

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