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Symptoms of Mania

Bipolar Warning Signs

By

Updated May 16, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Manic excitement
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Mania is the hallmark of Bipolar I disorder, and hypomania of Bipolar II and Cyclothymia. Some of the symptoms of mania and hypomania are behaviors that others can easily observe; other symptoms occur in the mind of the manic person and are not visible, but are often reported to others.

Individually, the symptoms of mania, which include all symptoms of hypomania plus a few more, don't necessarily indicate that a person has bipolar disorder, but when there are enough manic symptoms, along with periods of depression, a bipolar diagnosis will almost certainly be considered by the patient's doctor. Bipolar mania can spiral out of control, especially if not treated, so it's extremely important to be able to identify the warning signs.

There are differences between mania and the slightly less severe condition of hypomania. The article Bipolar I and Bipolar II lists the similarities and differences between the two.

Warning Signs of Mania

The appearance of one or just a few of the signs or symptoms listed below doesn't necessarily mean someone is entering a manic or hypomanic episode. But if you observe a group of these in yourself or someone else, it's time to seek psychiatric help. How to Find a Psychiatrist gives some suggestions for locating a doctor experienced in diagnosing and treating bipolar disorder.

Mood Changes

A prolonged period of a mood that's unusual for the person is required for a diagnosis of mania. The first two below are part of the specific diagnostic criteria for a manic episode; the others are descriptions of the way these moods may be expressed.
  • Abnormally elevated or expansive mood
  • Extreme and abnormal irritability
  • Easily excited to enthusiasm, anger, agitation or another emotion
  • Unusual hostility

Increased Energy

Whether these symptoms are noticed independently by others depends on a number of factors. For example, the change in sleep patterns won't be apparent in a person who lives alone, unless that person speaks about it to others.
  • Decreased need for sleep with little fatigue
  • An increase in goal-directed activities
  • Restlessness

Speech Disruptions

These symptoms are particularly easy for others to notice.

Impaired Judgment

The first three symptoms listed below are very much related to social situations, and are quite likely to be noticed by family members, friends, co-workers, etc. The last two are often obvious and can have particularly far-reaching consequences. In some cases, however, the manic or hypomanic person will try to hide those behaviors.
  • Inappropriate humor and behaviors
  • Unusual impulsiveness
  • Lack of insight
  • Financial extravagance and/or recklessness
  • Hypersexuality

Changes in Thought Patterns

Some of these symptoms can't be observed by anyone but the person experiencing them, but he or she may tell friends and loved ones about them.
  • Unusual distractibility
  • Enhanced creative thinking and/or behaviors
  • Flight of ideas
  • Disorientation
  • Disjointed thinking
  • Racing thoughts
  • Increased focus on religion or religious activities

Psychosis (these symptoms are not present in hypomania)

Fluctuations Between Mania and Depression

Finally, a person with bipolar disorder will likely have periods of depression as well as periods of mania or hypomania. These periods are called episodes. A person must have had at least one episode of mania for a doctor to diagnose bipolar I disorder, and both hypomanic and depressive episodes to be diagnosed with bipolar II disorder.
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