Officially speaking, the symptoms of Hypomanic and Manic episodes are determined by the criteria listed in the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual Vol 5 which are extremely long winded so I will share the links here for you to peruse at will:
- DSM IV Criteria for a hypomanic or manic episode
- DSM IV Criteria for a major depressive episode
- DSM IV Criteria for a mixed episode
Understand all that? Well, aren’t you a clever chook! Otherwise I have written out an easier to read explanation of the symptoms of hypomania and mania below in layman’s terms for you or click HERE for more information about symptoms of Major Depression and HERE for more information about mixed episodes.
Symptoms of Hypomania and Mania Explained
Note that some people diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder will only exhibit a few of these symptoms and some people will have lots of symptoms at once, types and severity of the symptoms often vary between both the patient and the individual episodes.
- Flight Of Ideas: Floods of brilliant (and in hindsight, often not so brilliant) ideas might start flying to your mind thick and fast and you can find yourself sending letters to politicians telling them step by step how to solve world hunger, making intricate plans for a housing development for retired farmers on your property or losing days to research when you think that you alone have finally cracked the cure for cancer.
- Distractibility: One minute we can be intensely involved in telling you our brilliant cure for Diabetes and then notice that bright shiny marble in the corner of your desk, wow it’s really a surprisingly reflective shade of silvery blue, I wonder how they make them look like that, is it just fancy paint or more of a nail polish substance? Ooh, I really must get my nails done again, this colour is so 2017… Sorry, what were we talking about again?
- Increase In Goal Oriented Activity: One of those brilliant idea seeds in our brain may start sprouting and we get obsessed with it, setting up new businesses or websites are popular ones, we will spend 100% focus on this making this goal happen and the rest of the world becomes a distant memory, we forget to eat, may forget to pick the kids up from school (ahem) and spend a whole bunch of money on domain names and email addresses. Sometimes I tell my psychiatrist about how I have been working on my ‘brilliant plan’ for something or other and she tilts her head, smiles knowingly and says “We call that an increase in goal oriented activity”. It’s her nice way of telling me I am becoming hypomanic. The trouble is these ideas – even the really, really good ones – tend to fizzle away into the ether when the mood episode is over or we are distracted by something shiny and at the end of the day all you are left with is a credit card bill and a whole lot of web domains that you can’t remember the passwords for. People with bipolar are brilliant in jobs where they only have to provide the ideas and someone else supplies the finance and the follow through.
- Excessive involvement in pleasurable activities: What exactly is wrong with that? Don’t we strive for happiness and fun in our lives? I mean, who doesn’t like a little adrenaline rush from time to time? Unfortunately mania can impair judgement and relieve inhibitions a little bit too much so you might start feeling invincible and taking big risks or simply putting yourself into awkward or unsafe situations that you normally wouldn’t consider.
If you are not normally an adrenaline junkie and you suddenly start desperately wanting to skydive and bungee jump, having the burning desire to gamble with excessive amounts of money, only feel like you are not moving in slow motion while driving dangerously fast, taking illicit drugs when you wouldn’t normally, hanging around the dangerous part of town alone at night without any concern, feeling “free” and “closer to God” while walking along the edge of cliff faces or thinking seriously about giving up your well paying public service day job, moving to Sydney and becoming a stripper, it might be time to see your doctor.
- Over Spending: The bank balance can be badly affected by mania, we tend to hear about some pretty extreme stories about manic spending, people buying Ferraris, giving $50,000 to a homeless man or buying plane tickets half way around the world on a whim but over spending can occur in much more subtle ways and depending on the funds or credit limits available to you at the time the compulsive purchase of an excessive quantity of groceries, clothing or homewares can be just as financially devastating.
- Impulsivity: Hmm… might be nice to go to Egypt one day… or I could go RIGHT NOW! We are often already experiencing a rush of “brilliant” ideas when we are hypo/manic and sometimes tomorrow is just too far away, we want to do/see/have everything now! Unfortunately the tendency towards impulsive action leaves very little room between having an idea and acting on it to think through whether or not it’s actually a safe/sensible/affordable activity to do or not and this can lead to doing dangerous or hurtful things that can have serious consequences and get us in trouble with the law, cause us to lose our jobs, hurt relationships and can even end up causing long-lasting physical and emotional damage. I have attempted suicide on a few different occasions but all of them have come down to taking impulsive action during episodes of mixed mania, I am just lucky I survived.
- Decreased Need For Sleep: Not to be confused with insomnia that leaves you unable to sleep at night but feeling tired during the day, mania just seems to take the tired feeling away completely. How can you possibly sleep when you are not feeling at all tired and have three different songs, the perfect best selling novel and a sure fire way to bring permanent peace to The Middle East rushing around in your head? It is not uncommon for people to go several days with no or very little sleep. I went 5 days straight with no sleep at all once, that didn’t end well.
- Hypersexuality: Sometimes hypo/mania causes people to become apparent overnight sex addicts, this can put a lot of pressure on relationships and lead to excessive use of pornography or even affairs. Some people will engage in sexual acts they wouldn’t normally consider, have sex with people they don’t know, practice unsafe sex or sex in an unsafe environment. It’s a common issue for people with Bipolar Disorder but not one that is widely talked about, I will try and put some more focus on and around this topic in the future.
- Pressured Speech: Talking, too fast and too often, talking over the top of people, talking to everyone, oversharing – revealing deeply personal things to strangers who we wouldn’t normally even chat too. Sometimes the thoughts rushing through our speeding minds come so quickly that we can no longer articulate them properly and we might accidentally start skipping words or even whole sentences and confusing the poor people trying to keep up with us.
- Anger & Irritability: Hypo/mania is intense, everything feels, well, ‘more’. Unfortunately for the people and inanimate objects around us, this includes anger and irritability. Stuff that normally doesn’t matter a whole lot can blow up rather quickly into fits of yelling, swearing, punching and kicking. Road rage can become an issue I know it is for a few friends of mine with Bipolar Disorder. Personally when I’m hypomanic I become very volatile and can go from singing happily at the top of my lungs one minute to dropping a fork and turning into a screaming banshee the next. I don’t ever physically hurt other people or animals but I yell a whole lot and say things I don’t mean and you certainly don’t want to be a throwable inanimate object within my reach when I hit a manic meltdown.
- Grandiosity: You may start feeling pretty good about yourself and entertaining grandiose thoughts or beliefs such as you are “special” or “chosen”, you may feel unusually lucky, as though you are unable to be hurt or exceptionally skilled at something. This can lead to risky behaviours such as gambling, driving too fast or simply embarrassing yourself by dressing inappropriately or telling the world just how wonderful you are. Some people find unique connections with God and/or the universe and coincidences seem to be around every corner.
- Psychosis: Psychosis is essentially defined as ‘losing touch with reality’, usually this is in the form of delusions which are beliefs not widely held by society and contradicted by reality or hallucinations, which is when someone is perceiving something to be there that isn’t actually present – that be visual (seeing things), auditory (hearing things), olfactory (smelling things) or somatic (feeling things). In Bipolar Disorder Psychosis is considered a symptom of Mania, not Hypomania and it’s presence can change a diagnosis from the category of Bipolar 2 to Bipolar 1. Because Psychosis is such a huge topic it deserves it’s very own page which I have started but it is currently still under construction and I will link it up when it is finished.