Is Mania a Mental Illness
Although mania is associated with bipolar disorder, it can also be caused by other mental illnesses

Mania can occur on its own but is typically a sign of bipolar disorder.

Manic episodes are characterized by periods of great excitement or euphoria, delusions (false perceptions), and overactivity. People with mania may feel that their sensory experiences are more vivid and enjoyable and experience increased energy and alertness. 

Bipolar disorder is a condition marked by recurrent manic episodes followed by episodes of depression. People used to refer to bipolar disorder as mania disorder because mania is one of the key symptoms of the disease. Although mania is associated with bipolar disorder, it can also be caused by other mental illnesses.

What is mania?

Mania is a condition characterized by an elevated or irritated mood with increased energy that lasts for at least one week. Symptoms are usually severe enough to be noticed by the people around you and may necessitate hospitalization in some cases.

Most people experience episodes of both mania and depression, but some people may only show symptoms of mania with no depression. In fact, many people with bipolar disorder experience recurrent mania with only a few episodes of depression. However, people who only have depression are diagnosed with depressive disorder. 

Because of this, many psychiatrists believe that unipolar mania exists, although there is disagreement regarding whether it varies sufficiently from bipolar disorder to merit a separate diagnosis. 

Research suggests that people with unipolar mania may respond differently to specific therapies. Some researchers believe that unipolar mania and bipolar disorder vary in their fundamental biology, and categorizing mania separately may lead to the discovery of more individualized and effective therapies.

What is a manic episode in bipolar disorder?

Mania is often associated with bipolar disorder. However, mania alone is present in bipolar type I. If you have a milder form of mania, known as hypomania, coupled with depressive episodes, you may be diagnosed with bipolar II disorder.

According to the DSM-5, the typical age for the first episode of mania in bipolar I is 18 years. However, some people acquire symptoms as children or adults. 

Manic episodes may vary from person to person. You may feel as though you are on top of the world and capable of accomplishing anything, or you may feel extremely angry.

It is common for people to struggle to focus or sleep during a manic episode. This can have a major impact on career or social life. Some people may act recklessly, such as spending excessive amounts of money or jeopardizing their physical safety.

What are the 3 stages of mania?

People often experience milder types of mania, such as hypomania and acute mania, before it progresses to potentially deadly delirious mania.

Hypomania (stage I)

  • Mild stage of mania that may go unnoticed by the people around 
  • Disrupts sleep and activities and may result in increased impulsivity, but seldom necessitates hospitalization or causes psychosis

Acute mania acute (stage II)

  • May cause heightened impulsivity, causing the person to act rashly, inappropriately, or promiscuously. 
  • May cause high energy, little sleep, and rapid talking
  • Psychotic symptoms may be present (detached from reality)

Delirious mania delirious (stage III)

  • Most severe stage of mania with similar symptoms to acute mania
  • Characterized by delirium, which may cause temporary disorientation and a reduced ability to connect with reality
  • May include a mix of manic and psychotic symptoms
  • May require hospitalization to avoid injuring themselves or others

SLIDESHOW

What Is Bipolar Disorder? Symptoms, Manic Episodes, Testing See Slideshow

What is the difference between mania and hypomania?

Mania and hypomania can occur on their own or as part of other mental illnesses, including:

Mania

Mania lasts a week or longer and severely impairs your ability to perform normal daily tasks, frequently interrupting or entirely stopping them. Severe mania is extremely dangerous and frequently necessitates hospitalization.

  • Symptoms:
    • Cheerfulness 
    • Euphoria
    • Uncontrollable excitement
    • Irritability and agitation
    • Increased sexual energy 
    • Easily distracted, as if your thoughts are racing
    • Adventurous, as if you are untouchable or cannot be harmed because you understand, see, or hear things that other people cannot
  • Behavioral changes:
    • Being more active than usual 
    • Excessive talking 
    • Talking fast or not making sense to other people 
    • Being very friendly 
    • Saying or doing things that are inappropriate and out of character 
    • Sleeping very little or not at all 
    • Being rude or aggressive 
    • Misusing drugs or alcohol 
    • Risky behavior
    • Spending money excessively
    • Losing social inhibitions or putting your safety at risk

Hypomania

Hypomania lasts a few days and is milder than mania. Although you are likely able to perform your daily activities without difficulty, it can still disrupt your life, and people may notice a change in your attitude and behavior. 

  • Symptoms:
    • Cheerfulness 
    • Euphoria
    • Sense of well-being 
    • Impatience
    • Irritation
    • Increased sexual energy 
    • Easily distracted, as if your thoughts are racing
  • Behavioral changes:
    • Being more active than usual
    • Speaking fast
    • Being extremely friendly 
    • Sleeping very little 
    • Spending a lot of money 
    • Losing social inhibitions or putting your safety at risk

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Medically Reviewed on 9/29/2022
References
Image Source: iStock image

Mania: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/21603-mania#:~:text=Technically%20if%20you%20have%20a,condition%20for%20mania%20to%20occur).

What is mania? https://screening.mhanational.org/content/what-mania/

Bipolar disorder: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bipolar-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20355955