Hypomania is a mood state that is characterised by feelings of high energy and excitement. Those in such an episode are known as being “hypomanic”.

Those in a hypomanic state will typically experience heightened disruption in their life, changes in their behaviour, but also potentially a high level of creativity.

Hypomania can be a symptom of Bipolar Disorder and Schizoaffective Disorder. Hypomania isn’t as debilitating as Mania, although it shares many characteristics.

Hypomania is a symptom of some mental health conditions

Symptoms of Hypomania

A hypomanic episode will normally last at least four days, though can last for weeks or, even more on some occasions.

In this time, the person in a hypomanic state will normally see their symptoms negatively impacting their ability to complete their usual activities.

However, they may also benefit from higher productivity and creativity. They may not realise they are in a hypomanic state. A hypomanic episode may see an individual exhibiting the following symptoms:

  • Happy feeling, euphoria
  • Excitable
  • Racing thoughts
  • Higher confidence than usual
  • Not needing much sleep
  • Acting impulsively
  • Taking risks
  • Irritable

What do people do when they’re hypomanic?

Each person can react differently to being hypomanic. In most cases, a person may be very active, over-friendly to others, spend money in excess, or may engage in risky activity.

Someone in a hypomanic state may engage in behaviour that they would never do normally. Hypomanic episodes have the potential to be distressing.

Sometimes, people only see a minor increase in energy in a hypomanic episode. Others may believe it is part of their personality. This is why it is so challenging to spot the signs of hypomania.

Some people find that hypomania is actually a positive experience. Hypomania can be linked to creativity, and can help increase productivity. Ludwig van Beethoven, Isaac Newton, Winston Churchill and Ted Turner are just some of the names associated with hypomanic episodes and success. But unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.

What causes hypomania?

It isn’t entirely known what causes a hypomanic episode. We have an article that explores potential causes of Bipolar Disorder.

As discussed above, hypomania is normally a sign of Bipolar Disorder. Though it can also occur in cases of Schizoaffective Disorder.

Someone who has a first hypomanic episode will often have suffered from Clinical Depression for some time. It therefore may have been previously misdiagnosed as Depression.

In terms of general causes, genetics is certainly a risk factor, with conditions like Bipolar Disorder commonly running in families. Past trauma or a head injury are other risk factors.

How is a hypomanic episode treated?

It is very important that someone who has had a hypomanic episode accesses treatment – even if it did not impair their day-to-day functioning.

It may need a close friend or family member of the individual to try and get the patient to seek help. This is because a patient will often not think anything is wrong.

When the person sees a doctor, they should be referred to a mental health specialist, who can diagnose the person with a condition.

Treatment for hypomania normally revolves around the mood stabilising medication Lithium Carbonate. Lithium is very useful for helping to prevent future hypomanic episodes and to generally stabilise mood.

Alternatives include anticonvulsants Valproate and Carbamazepine, or antipsychotics like Quetiapine, Olanzapine, Risperidone or Aripiprazole.

What happens after a hypomanic episode?

Once a hypomanic episode has passed, there can be a range of feelings. It will depend on the severity of the episode.

Someone that had a rather severe hypomanic episode may feel guilty, embarrassed or ashamed by their behaviour and actions. They may have relationship problems that developed in the midst of the episode.

Meanwhile, if someone was unaware that they were hypomanic, their life will go on as usual, although they may notice that they have less energy.

Hypomania and mania

Hypomania is typically a milder form of Mania. Hypomania and mania feature similar symptoms, but hypomania is characterised with more control, and less impairment. Mania is a more severe version.

Hypomania is associated with Bipolar II Disorder and Cyclothymia, while mania is associated with Bipolar I Disorder.

It is also possible for an individual to be in a mixed affective state, where they showcase symptoms of a major depressive episode, as well as their manic symptoms. Mania or hypomania can also be a symptom of Schizoaffective Disorder.

Someone who has hypomanic episodes may later have a manic episode. For some, hypomania is a precursor to mania.

Summary

Hypomania can be challenging to live with, and is associated with many debilitating mental health conditions.

But with the right support and treatment, symptoms can be controlled more, which helps to ensure the person enjoys a high quality of life.

See Also

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