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What is the Difference Between Mania and Hypomania?

One of the main differences between bipolar I and bipolar II is that bipolar II experiences hypomania and not mania. Last week I wrote from the perspective of a hypomanic mind, but what is hypomania really? Is hypomania fun or is it just plain crazy?

Mania

In type I bipolar, a defining characteristic is mania. Mania symptoms include:

  • Abnormally and persistently elevated, expansive, or irritable mood
  • Inflated self-esteem or grandiosity
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • More talkative than usual or pressure to keep talking
  • Flight of ideas or subjective experience that thoughts are racing
  • Distractibility
  • Increase in goal-directed activity or psychomotor agitation
  • Excessive involvement in pleasurable activities that have a high potential for painful consequence

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In order for the mood to be considered manic, these symptoms must cause a “marked impairment in… functioning… or relationships with others, or to necessitate hospitalization to prevent harm to self or others, or there are psychotic features” (official diagnosis criteria).

It’s that last part that’s really key; mania must be severe and result in danger to yourself, others, relationships, employment, etc, typically leading to hospitalization.

Hypomania

For bipolar II we experience hypomania, which I like to call mania-light. All the crazy with half the impairment. It includes symptoms like:

  • A distinct period of persistently elevated, expansive, or irritable mood
  • Inflated self-esteem or grandiosity
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • More talkative than usual or pressure to keep talking
  • Flight of ideas or subjective experience that thoughts are racing
  • Distractibility
  • Increase in goal-directed activity or psychomotor agitation
  • Excessive involvement in pleasurable activities that have a high potential for painful consequences

The mood must also be unusual for the individual and noticeable by others. And now the important part, “the episode is not severe enough to cause marked impairment in… functioning, or to necessitate hospitalization, and there are no psychotic features.” (official diagnosis criteria)

Diagnostically, mania must be at least seven days whereas hypomania has to be at least 4 days.

(Other complexities like mixed-moods and rapid cycling aren’t discussed here.)

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Mania vs. Hypomania

So if you’ve been paying attention, you’ll note that the symptoms of mania and hypomania are virtually identical, the key differentiator is the severity. Mania is very dangerous because people don’t just act abnormally; they typically endanger themselves or vital parts of their lives. Mania often requires hospitalization due to the damage they are doing. Hypomania, on the other hand, may be an unusual mood, and it may cause some harm to the person or their lifestyle, but not to the point where they need to be hospitalized. People in hypomania buy five pairs of shoes, people in a mania buy 50.

Is Hypomania Fun?

So, if hypomania doesn’t get you hospitalized, and doesn’t severely endanger your life, is it fun? Well, it depends who you ask.

Some people say hypomania is enjoyable, happy, fun and the only break they get from their depression. Some people feel they’re more like the person they were before bipolar disorder than at any other time. They’re also fun to be around, creative and are social butterflies at that time. Oh, and the sex tends to be really good too. So, yes, some people really enjoy hypomania and find it fun.

On the other hand, some people get extremely irritable and even angry during hypomanic phases. They become very dissociative and disconnected from the world around them. They feel constantly bombarded by thoughts they can’t control and obsessed with fragments of music or literature that repeats endlessly in their mind. They feel possessed and like they’re being crushed by a very fast, very powerful outside force they can’t control. This is not in the least bit fun.

I Prefer Hypomania

If I got to choose between mania, hypomania and depression, I’d pick hypomania. True, I do feel awfully crazy and disconnected from the world when going through it, and true, the obsessive thoughts are tormenting, but the energy is such a great change of pace from the depression that I’ll take it any day. I’m more creative, can put more energy into achieving goals, and just plain get more done.

But that’s a personal thing. Would anyone care to share their experiences with hypomania?

Check out Natasha Tracy’s book: Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar and connect with her on FacebookGoogle+ or Twitter or at Bipolar Burble, her blog.

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105 Responses to What is the Difference Between Mania and Hypomania?

  1. Renea says:

    Every day is fight. It’s just so tiring. I have nobody to depend on but people depend on me. A fight not to cry. A fight not to let anyone see the tears that did fall down. Just fall right out….”it’s allergies” I say. Everything is hard…so hard. Am I just a lazy jerk? I go to work, I have to make it there. I pretend…. that takes all I have. I want to be a good person, a fun person, normal, but like this, it’s just a struggle.

  2. Chelsea says:

    I didn’t know until now that hypomania existed; all of my episodes have been labeled manic in the 6 years I’ve had them, and yet clearly all but a few have been hypomania.
    I am deeply afraid of mania. I would choose anything over it, sometimes even death.
    Hypomania, however, feels better than stability. It feels like me before I ever experienced derision.

  3. Laura says:

    I’m Bipolar 2. Neither depression or hypomania are good. I’ve had periods of depression where I can’t leave my house. I stop functioning. Hypomania leads to self-destructive behavior as hyper sexuality is part of my cycle. The better route for me is mood stabilizers. It takes work to find the right meds. I did enter an intensive out patient program for 5 weeks.

    It changed my life.

  4. Lynn says:

    I absolutely loathe my hypomania, if indeed that’s what I have. I was diagnosed BP2 6 years ago, but I never ever have elevated moods other than agitation or pure blind rage. I cycle through depression, then the rages. Anybody else not have the “better” elements of hypomania? I don’t feel good, no desire for sex, no feelings of grandiosity, just anger.

  5. Carol says:

    I take advanced Q96 from qscience.com. It cuts out my way highs and way lows. I think MOORE logical and handle stress better. My family can tell if I skip a dose, which is normally the third dose.
    I tend to stay on the hypomania side and absolutely love it because I am MOORE creative and get MOORE done. I am a full-time music teacher and then I work on a soap business in the evenings while tending my family, and then I work a weekend job to keep me busy. I am scared to not be busy because that’s when the depression hits. Thank goodness I believe in sex with my spouse only, but he feels used because I want sex all the time and he started to actually complain. So, then I go on spending sprees and have to control wanting to speed way over the limit, if I don’t take my pills right. I hate taking the third dose because I like the hypomania stage. I get MOORE creative grandios ideas. I also am very good with music, crafts, and sewing. I set goals and get them done. I also have a Bachelor’s degree and am looking to work on my Masters in Music. I am very good at anything I put my mind to. I don’t relate to lazy people, slackers, and people who are slobs. I also love to manipulate people, especially men with whom I personally hate but need. Hard to explain. I like to play the you can look but not touch game. I live in my own little world and it gets lonely because my husband has prostate cancer and I need sex but can’t have it. I’m afraid to masterbate because I have a no stop button and I won’t have sex out of marriage because I love God MOORE than my worldly desires. I don’t relate to the other women because they are worried about their husbands around me, which they shouldn’t because I hate men in general and am only a one man woman. My husband is the lucky man. Plus, most women I know bore me because they don’t set high goals, don’t care how they look and all they talk about is food, recipes or gossip. I am definitely MOORE creative. I walk the walk I talk, I don’t just talk it. I love my hypomania spells, it gives me high energy and MOORE creations. Check out cmooreinspiration, cmooremusic, cmooresoap, and Carol Louise Moore.
    I doubt anyone will read all this anyways. I am also not vain, I’m just stating facts. And, I talk MOORE when in the hypo stage, like now. The problem is there is no filter and I say too much and scare people away. So, I am scared to talk to people because of it. Hence why I decided to vent here in my search to understand myself better. I just focus on my music, soap and craft creations to keep me out of trouble. I don’t have the bad thoughts anymore with the Q96 pills and I feel like I can be me.

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