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What Is Bipolar Mania? Symptoms, Causes and Triggers

Bipolar mania is one of the defining symptoms of bipolar I disorder, but how is it recognized and what are the causes? Manic episodes are characterized by elevated "highs" and abnormally hyperactive behavior. If left untreated, mania can impact a person's ability to function. Recognizing the symptoms of bipolar mania is the first step toward diagnosing bipolar disorder and seeking the most appropriate treatment, so what are the signs to look out for?

Symptoms of Bipolar Mania

Bipolar mania has a series of hallmark symptoms, all of which point toward a diagnosis of bipolar type I. Unlike hypomania – a less severe form of mania seen in people with bipolar type II – mania is easier to diagnose because it involves clear changes in energy and activity levels. To be diagnosed with bipolar type I, you must have experienced at least one manic episode that lasted at least one week.

According to the National Institute of Health, the signs of bipolar mania are as follows:

  • Feeling very “high” or elevated
  • A drastically reduced need for sleep
  • Being energetic, increased energy levels
  • Feeling “jumpy” or “wired”
  • Increased activity levels, being more active than usual
  • Having lots of ideas in quick succession, racing thoughts
  • Talking fast about lots of different things
  • Feeling you can do lots of different things at once
  • Engaging in risky behaviors, such as spending lots of money or having reckless sex

Other symptoms of bipolar mania include:

  • Impaired judgment
  • Enhanced creativity
  • Increased focus on religion
  • Feeling powerful, high self-esteem
  • Symptoms of psychosis, including hallucinations, delusions and paranoia

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) defines mania as "a distinct period of abnormally and persistently elevated, expansive, or irritable mood" and "abnormally and persistently increased goal-directed activity or energy." Most people who experience bipolar mania also have episodes of bipolar depression.

(Read more bipolar mania stories.)

What Causes Mania in Bipolar Disorder?

There is no single cause of mania in bipolar disorder, just as there is no one reason why some people develop bipolar disorder and not others. Experts believe there to be several factors that work together to make a person more likely to develop the condition.

These include:

  • A chemical imbalance in neurotransmitters
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Genetics
  • Environmental factors, such as trauma and abuse
  • Triggers

Bipolar mania can be triggered in someone who doesn’t know they have bipolar disorder. Common triggers for manic episodes include:

  • The death of a loved one, grief
  • A relationship breakdown or divorce
  • Extreme stress caused by problems with work, money or relationships
  • Physical, sexual or emotional abuse
  • Physical illness
  • Pregnancy, childbirth or menopause in women
  • Sleep disturbances

Treatments for Bipolar I Mania

Before you receive treatment for bipolar mania, you will need to be assessed by a psychiatrist. The doctor will ask you questions about your symptoms, medical history, current medications, and lifestyle, and may refer you for testing to rule out other conditions. Your doctor may also ask you to chart (keep a diary) your symptoms and moods.

If the bipolar mania is severe or you are believed to be putting yourself in danger, in-patient hospital treatment may be recommended so that you can be stabilized. Although you may feel ashamed or fearful of getting emergency help, a stay in a psychiatric hospital can give you the space you need to heal, away from the stressors of life and surrounded by professionals who can treat your symptoms ("Bipolar Mania Medications: Which Drugs for Mania Help?"). According to the Department of Health and Human Services, mood disorders are the third most common cause of hospital admissions in the U.S. for people ages 18 to 44, so there is no reason to feel ashamed.

If you need urgent support during an episode of bipolar mania or depression, you should call your doctor or contact your local emergency services.

article references

APA Reference
Smith, E. (2019, May 27). What Is Bipolar Mania? Symptoms, Causes and Triggers, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, August 22 from https://www.healthyplace.com/bipolar-disorder/bipolar-symptoms/what-is-bipolar-mania-symptoms-causes-and-triggers

Last Updated: May 30, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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