You’ve probably heard the word “mania” as it’s commonly used to refer to a new craze or an exciting trend—something that’s bringing a lot of people on board. However, it’s also a real medical term. Although it’s most commonly associated with bipolar disorder, it can appear in other disorders too.
Let’s take a closer look at mania to get a better understanding of what manic episodes say about one’s mental health.
What is Mania?
In a few short words, mania is an emotional high. But since emotions look different in different people, it ends up being a little bit more complicated than that.
For some, mania is a burst of motivation and excitement. You feel full of energy and the desire to do more. While this may sound like a good thing, it can cause all sorts of problems.
One such problem is due to the fact that people who experience manic periods often also experience periods of depression. This is a condition known as bipolar disorder, which we’ll come back to in a moment.
Feeling energized and motivated is, unfortunately, a best-case scenario for someone experiencing mania. And even in those situations, they’re prone to taking on more than they can reasonably handle. This can lead them to become emotionally overwhelmed, especially once the manic episode ends and the individual is faced with mounting pressure from those commitments.
Mania also has more severe symptoms, including irritability, difficulty sleeping, and poor judgement, although the implications and consequences of those symptoms are often of the greatest concern.
In general, mania removes self-preservation and hesitation. People experiencing mania become more daring, even if that just means overspending because that can snowball, leading to taking out unwise loans that cause far more harm than good.
What Does Manic Behavior Look Like?
Although mania can come in a number of different forms, there are certain behavioral markers that sometimes indicate when someone is in a manic episode. Be on the lookout for any of the following behavioral symptoms of mania.
- Lots of energy and motivation
- Intense anxiety
- Impulsive behavior
- Mind racing from one thought to the next
- Feeling invincible, unstoppable, or powerful
- Feeling detached from reality (i.e. psychosis)
Psychosis can entail hallucinations, bizarre speech patterns, and paranoia. In fact, people experiencing mania may become suspicious of loved ones for seemingly no reason. It’s also common for them to be distrustful of the government and other organizations, and generally wary of strangers.
Although manic episodes can also include riskier behaviors like rampant drug use and unprotected sex, it’s not all bad. Some people take advantage of their mania for artistic and motivational purposes. However, choosing not to manage your disorder because you perceive it to be advantageous to you is not worth the risk.
Mania vs Manic Episodes: What’s the Difference?
By definition, mania is an encompassing term to describe the dramatic emotional and behavioral changes that people can exhibit during a manic episode. By comparison, manic episodes are a shorthand way to say that you’re experiencing mania for a period of time.
Everybody has mood changes, of course. However, there’s a difference between having a great few days and being in a prolonged episode of mania. It’s especially important to be aware of mania because manic episodes are often an indicator that the individual suffers from bipolar disorder.
How long does a manic episode last? Well, it depends. With type I bipolar disorder, manic episodes can last as much as last about six months. However, with type II bipolar disorder, they last from a couple of days to a few weeks. But the intensity of the mania is much less with type II bipolar disorder, making the manic episodes much harder to detect.
Which Disorders Involve Mania?
In addition to bipolar disorder—which used to be known as manic depression—mania is a symptom of a few other disorders.
Postpartum psychosis is known to potentially induce mania and affects about 15 percent of women after giving birth. Though it’s more often referred to as postpartum depression, it’s possible for women suffering from postpartnum psychosis to experience some manic episodes as well.
Mania can also appear in schizoaffective disorder, which, as you might have guessed, has characteristics of both schizophrenia and a mood disorder like bipolar.
How is Mania Treated?
Interestingly enough, doctors can use medications designed to treat a variety of other conditions to help manage mania. Mood stabilizers like lithium and valproic acid are known to be quite effective for bipolar disorder. Many of those drugs are also anticonvulsants (medications that treat seizure disorders). Researchers aren’t yet sure what the link is, but it’s certainly interesting to think about.
Antipsychotics can help treat particularly stubborn cases of bipolar disorder. In such instances, antipsychotics can be prescribed alone or in addition to a mood stabilizer. There are also antidepressants to help manage the depressive symptoms that come after a crash from mania. Doctors can also prescribe anti-anxiety medications to make it easier to sleep during manic episodes (although these are typically prescribed only for short periods).
How Common is Mania?
According to the National Institute on Mental Health, bipolar disorder affects about four percent of the US population. So while it’s not exactly common, there are certainly a lot of people out there who are experiencing mania regularly.
The reason more people are experiencing mania is that we’re seeing more and more people diagnosed with bipolar disorder although the reasons for this increase are not yet well-understood.
Silicon Beach Behavioral Health Has the Answers You’re Looking For
No matter how much information we pack into a single article or post, you’re not going to have all your questions answered just by reading one single discussion. Silicon Beach is here to answer all your questions about mental illness. Call our toll-free number to learn more about how we can help you get the mental health treatments you need.