What Are Hypomania and Mania in Bipolar Disorder?

You probably already know that bipolar disorder can bring with it dramatic mood swings. You can go from the depths of depression to the racing thoughts, extreme energy, and wired feelings that doctors call “mania.”

But have you heard of “hypomania”? It’s a less severe form of mania. It actually may feel pretty good because your mood is up and you have more energy than usual, but it’s not out of control.

The problem is that for someone with bipolar disorder, hypomania can evolve into mania. Or it can switch to serious depression. And you can’t tell which one might happen, because the pattern isn’t predictable.

Is It Mania?

You may:

Some people with bipolar disorder become psychotic when manic or depressed -- for example, hearing things that aren't there. They may hold onto false beliefs, too. In some instances, they see themselves as having superhuman skills and powers -- even considering themselves to be god-like.

Keep in mind that you may not notice these things in yourself. It might be a friend or family member who notices the patterns. If symptoms last for a week or more and cause problems in your life, it may be mania.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Joseph Goldberg, MD on September 16, 2016

Sources

SOURCES:

National Institute for Mental Health: “Bipolar Disorder.”

Massachusetts General Hospital Bipolar Clinic & Research Program: “Understanding bipolar disorder: Frequently asked questions.”

American Psychiatric Association: "Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Patients With Bipolar Disorder."

National Health Service: “Understanding Mania and Hypomania.”

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