Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder marked by intense shifts in a person’s mood. Formerly called manic-depression, bipolar disorder can affect many aspects of a person’s life, including their sleeping and eating habits, their day-to-day functioning, their relationships, and even their job and financial situation. While the hopelessness of depression may cause patients to seek treatment, patients who experience symptoms of mania may be unable to recognize their illness.
What Is Mania?
A person who is manic will experience a dramatic upswing in their mood and feeling of well-being. They may feel more outgoing than usual, need less sleep, and feel capable of taking on many ambitious projects. Some common manic symptoms are:
- racing thoughts, which may cause the person to speak more quickly than usual
- becoming very easily distracted and having many ideas on the go
- feeling restless and needing much less sleep than usual
- having delusions of grandeur or inflated confidence about their abilities
- impulsive, risky behaviour, such as increased sexual activity, driving too fast, making impulsive investments or spending a lot of money on shopping sprees
- severe manic episodes can also include psychotic symptoms such as seeing or hearing things that aren’t there, or false beliefs like being famous or having magical powers
Bipolar disorder symptoms can drastically affect a person’s life, and can sometimes be so severe that the patient requires immediate inpatient care. There are varying degrees of severity within bipolar disorder, and not every patient will experience the same symptoms. Full-blown mania is often a symptom of Bipolar 1 disorder.
Manic Symptoms Are Not Always Enjoyable
While bipolar patients are frequently portrayed as being overly happy and confident, this is not always the case. Mania can also manifest itself as extreme irritability. Some people with bipolar disorder also experience mixed episodes, which include symptoms of both depression and mania at the same time.
What Is Hypomania?
Hypomania is a less extreme expression of mania which does not include psychotic features like hallucinations and delusions. Patients experiencing hypomania may feel that they have more energy than usual, and may feel more productive. Hypomania does not require emergency care, but without treatment a patient’s symptoms may escalate into mania, or tumble into depression. Hypomania is often a symptom of Bipolar 2 disorder, or of cyclothymia. Because hypomanic patients are often high-functioning, it can be difficult for them to recognize their behaviours as symptoms of bipolar disorder.
Bipolar disorder is a serious mental illness. Manic symptoms can not only wreak havoc in a patient’s life, but can also put them at risk for seriously harming themselves. Fortunately there is treatment available to help bipolar patients manage their illness. Anyone who is concerned that they or a loved one may be experiencing manic symptoms should talk to their doctor for further investigation of their symptoms.