Bipolar Mania

Bipolar mania is defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as a "distinct period of unusual and persistent elevated, expansive or irritable mood that lasts at least one week, requires hospitalization, or results in psychosis."   Not all people diagnosed with bipolar disorder experience bipolar mania.  In fact, only people with Bipolar I experience full-blown mania–people with bipolar II experience a less intense, but still dangerous, form of mania called hypomania.  

Criteria for bipolar mania

Several elements must be present to diagnose a manic episode. First, there must be a distinct period during which there are marked changes in mood—abnormally elevated (on top of the world), expansive (flamboyant, filters off), or irritable—and goal-directed activity or energy level. Next, the uncharacteristic behavior or mood must last at least a week, or require hospitalization. Third, there must be at least three other symptoms (or four if the abnormal mood is irritability) from the following checklist:
  • Inflated self-esteem or grandiosity
  • Decreased need for sleep (for example, feeling rested after just a few hours’ sleep)
  • More talkative or sociable than usual, or pressure to keep talking
  • Flight of ideas or the feeling that thoughts are racing
  • Easily distracted by unimportant or irrelevant things
  • Increase in activity levels, either goal-directed (such as taking on new projects or socializing more) or a restless busyness
  • Plunging into reckless activities like buying sprees, promiscuity or high-risk business deals
Furthermore, symptoms must significantly affect the ability to manage at work or school, pursue usual social activities, or maintain relationships.  

Bipolar hypomanic episode

If manic symptoms last at least four days but less than a week, the episode is deemed hypomanic. Symptoms don’t interfere too much with work, relationships and usual pursuits—in fact, hypomania often brings a sense of feeling energized and able to accomplish more—but changes in sleep and behavior mark a distinct departure from the norm and are noticeable to others. Judgment may be shaky. Hypomania is often a border state leading into or out of mania, and sometimes alternates with depression. For some people, hypomania can induce irritability and agitation (dysphoria) rather than a productive high (euphoria).   Here is more information about the signs and symptoms of bipolar mania and bipolar hypomania:

Blogs and Articles

Why is Bipolar Depression So Hard to Treat?

Melody Moezzi
August 8, 2011

Despite all the attention mania gets, most of us with bipolar know that depression is far more common. Despite all the attention mania gets, most of us with bipolar know all too well that depression is far more common than either mania or hypomania. It’s a particularly annoying misconception that people with “bipolar I” experience...

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The Connection Between The Full Moon & My Mania

Chato Stewart
July 13, 2011

Like werewolves, I know that the full moon does have an effect over my mood. Whether or not it is a connection between the moon and my conscious, unconscious or sub-conscious mind, I just don’t know. This week on Friday, July 15th will be the full moon. Some believe the moon’s mystical sphere gives superhuman...

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dysphoric manic mania bipolar disorder mixed features episode

Dysphoric Mania: I’ve Got To Get Out Of Here!

Julie A. Fast
June 30, 2011

If you’re new to bipolar disorder lingo- there are two kinds of mania: euphoric and the dreaded dysphoric mania, also known as agitated mania. If you’re new to bipolar disorder lingo- there are two kinds of mania: Euphoric (we all love it when it first starts!) and the dreaded dysphoric mania, also known as agitated...

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Sizzling Summer Mania

Chato Stewart
June 15, 2011

Summer gives us an opportunity to get out of the house! We just need to be cautious not to overdo it.  Summer, HOT blistering days. Sunburns and tons of sunscreen and mosquito repellent… At the end of the day, I smell like a burnt hamburger covered with citronella and DEET.  Yet, that’s the price you...

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Watch Out For Summer Mania!

Julie A. Fast
June 15, 2011

All of us with bipolar have to watch out for summer mania. (And those who care about us can watch out for it as well and get us help when needed!) Mania peaks in the summer. There are physiological reasons for this: sunlight hits the retina – and all that light is then spread to...

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Ask the Doctor: What Exactly IS My Mood?

Jane Mountain, MD
May 10, 2011

Do you experience mixed moods of mania and depression and have difficulty determining which one you’re experiencing? I’m not always sure what mood I have. Is there a mood that is neither depression nor mania? When we are living in the world of changing moods, it is sometimes difficult to identify the mood we are experiencing. In bipolar illness, the key difficulty is...

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Fighting the Myth of Mania

Melody Moezzi
May 1, 2011

It’s not surprising that spring can also push some of us with bipolar disorder toward the manic end of the bipolar spectrum. There’s something ridiculously alluring and intoxicating about spring—with her tulips and daffodils and cherry blossoms, not to mention her festivals, fairs and farmers’ markets. More than any other season, she inspires whimsy, wonder and...

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Judge Lynn Toler, formerly of the Fox court series Divorce Court, is an advocate for mental health, bipolar, healthy relationships, and partner abuse prevention.

Judge Lynn Toler: Recognizing & Advocating for Bipolar in the Courtroom

Janice Arenofsky
November 1, 2010

Growing up with one parent who had bipolar and the other who became an expert in mood management, Toler developed a keen eye for brain-based illness—such as depression, bipolar, and anxiety—and a passion for balancing appropriate care and justice. Editor’s Update: In March 2020, after 13 years starring as the arbiter of Divorce Court, Judge...

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Bipolar & Bitterness

Julie A. Fast
October 12, 2010

Panic, anger, irritability and depression are the symptoms that tag along with rapid cycling, but columnist Julie A. Fast tells us how to beat the bitterness. Over this past spring I was more ill than I’ve ever been since my diagnosis in 1995. In fact, it’s truly the closest I’ve come to taking my own...

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The Upside of a Scattered Brain

Melody Moezzi
August 4, 2010

You may feel like your mind is all over the place, but the mania won’t last forever. Not long ago, I gave a lecture at the University of Southern Mississippi about my attempts to combat growing worldwide Islamophobia, brutal human rights abuses by the current Iranian regime, and global stigma surrounding mental illness. The way...

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Resiliency: Bouncing Back from Relapse

Julie A. Fast
February 16, 2010

Recovery is not about never getting sick again—it’s about bouncing back when you do. I often feel as if I’ve stepped back in time when I get really sick. I think, “How could this happen again? I’ve worked so hard to get where I am!” Just a few weeks ago, I made this comment to my therapist after I had trouble at work and went into a depression....

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Recognizing & Coping with Hypomania

Beth Brownsberger Mader
November 1, 2009

It is important to recognize symptoms of hypomania, regardless of whether you have experienced them before. As if having bipolar weren’t enough to manage, a few years back I also was diagnosed with PTSD—the fallout from six months in an abusive workplace. The kicker was when I got cornered in my office by an angry coworker...

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Bipolar & Overeating: Shedding Pounds & Gaining Wisdom

Sasha Kildare
May 17, 2009

Sometimes bipolar medication comes with weight gain, so we have some tips on how to keep the weight off and your mood up. I used to blame my mood stabilizer for tripling my dress size. Medication was not the only factor, but I believed it alone was responsible. I lamented my sluggish metabolism while consoling myself with chocolate chip cookies. At 18,...

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John Kevin: Miracles in Mental Health

Brenda Alesii
November 30, 2006

One man’s brave story about bridging the gap between depression and recovery   By Brenda Alesii   On September 25, 2000, John Kevin had a change of heart. The 19-year-old San Francisco student, known to family and friends as “Kevin,” was plummeting off the Golden Gate Bridge to a certain death, one that would finally silence...

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Watch Out for Summer Mania

Julie A. Fast
August 8, 2005

Summer’s sunshine is a notorious trigger for mania. To prevent summertime mood episodes, keep taking your bipolar medication—even when it feels like you don’t need to. Preventing mania takes a lot of self-awareness, especially in summer, when it’s so nice to feel good again. Have you ever noticed that your mood is better in the...

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Paul’s Story: Coping Through Comedy

Brenda Alesii
August 8, 2005

A comic’s creativity and courage helped him through his depression and mania By Brenda Alesii   I’m in extra innings,” says Paul, whose varied accomplishments make this 40-year-old Cincinnati resident hard to label. Paul makes his living the hard way: he is a stand-up comedian known onstage as Paul Zass, who spends most of his...

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Dr. Jane Mountain: Navigating The Peaks & Valleys of BP

Brenda Alesii
May 22, 2005

Jane’s journey from hypomanic to healing   By Brenda Alesii   With a distinctive surname and an address in the heart of the Rockies, Jane F. Mountain, MD, knows a thing or two about peaks and valleys. In her 56 years, Jane, a family physician, has taken a circuitous route to her current role as...

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