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How To Recognize a Manic or Hypomanic Episode

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Updated June 30, 2014

If someone you know has or may have bipolar disorder, you need to know the signs that point to a manic or hypomanic episode. If you see a group of these behaviors, you (if possible and appropriate) or the individual in question should contact a doctor. Going to an emergency room may be the right choice, depending on how extreme the behavior is. Keep a notebook just for recording manic (and depressive) symptoms.

Note: Most symptoms are shared between mania and hypomania. Those that are not are indicated.

  1. Make note of any changes in sleeping patterns, especially if your friend or loved one has lots of energy on just a few hours of sleep.
     
  2. Is he restlessly searching for ways to work off extra energy? Washing the car every day? Make note of this manic behavior.
     
  3. Be alert to increased talkativeness. If her mouth runneth over, this could be another symptom, especially if the talk seems pressured.
     
  4. Be aware if someone starts making "clang" associations, i.e., gets distracted by the sounds of words - such as going on about microphones, xylophones and ice cream cones.
  5. If your spouse/partner is suddenly more sexually demanding, it could be a symptom. Hypersexuality is often a manic symptom.

  6. Check your phone bill for calls to 900 sex numbers and your credit card bills/debit card transactions for charges from pornographic websites. This, unfortunately, is another symptom of bipolar hypersexuality.

  7. Study your credit card bills and debit card transactions diligently! Mania can cause disastrous spending sprees. Consider taking the cards and checkbook away while your loved one is exhibiting manic behaviors.

  8. Notice if he complains that his thoughts are racing uncontrollably.

  9. Be on the alert if she starts having delusions of grandeur - for example, making statements like "Justin Bieber is sending me love letters," or "We have to move to Yemen this weekend, I've been named president there." Delusions of grandeur are not present in hypomania, but grandiose thinking like "I'm going to quit my job and write a novel!" is a possible manic or hypomanic symptom.

  10. Watch out for unreasonable irritability and/or hostility. This is not just a symptom - it can be dangerous. Be cautious!

  11. Increased religious zeal or involvement can be another manic symptom. Make note of this if you see it.
     
  12. If she describes auditory or visual hallucinations or shows paranoid or other delusional behavior, contact her psychiatrist immediately. These are serious manic symptoms. (Hallucinations and paranoid delusions are not present in hypomania.)
     
  13. During a manic or hypomanic episode, a person is likely to wear brightly colored or flamboyant clothing. Note this if it occurs with other symptoms.
     
  14. If manic behaviors occur following a change in medications, contact the prescribing doctor promptly.

Tips:

  1. Make a pact with your friend that if you bring these manic behaviors to his attention, he will contact his doctor.
     
  2. If your spouse/partner has a pattern of manic spending sprees, keep money in your name only.

This is not an exhaustive list of manic symptoms. You will learn more by observation and from the links below. Be sure to add your friend or loved one's specific red flags to this list!

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