The emotional high of a bipolar hypomanic episode is a powerful feeling, but the consequences of decisions made during this time can be serious. Anyone who feels the telltale energy and agitation of a hypomanic episode should be prepared for a dangerous shift in mood.
Hypomania and Bipolar Disorder
For individuals with bipolar disorder, hypomania is a state of increased satisfaction, prolific ideas and intense happy feelings. Since bipolar disorder is characterized by episodes of shifting moods, the state of hypomania may progress into a period of depression or a period of mania, which is more intense and less controlled than hypomania, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).
Characteristics of hypomania include episodes of high energy levels and impulsive behavior. There are three categories of bipolar disorder, according to NIMH. Hypomania typically occurs in two of the three types:
- Bipolar Type I — describes individuals who experience periods of major depression but have had at least one manic episode; previously known as manic depression
- Bipolar Type II — describes individuals who experience periods of hypomania that are not as extreme as mania; these individuals also experience periods of depression
- Cyclothymia — describes individuals with a mild form of bipolar disorder; involves less extreme mood swings; people in this category may alternate between hypomania and mild depression
The strong feelings of happiness and satisfaction a person experiences during hypomania make it more difficult to see the implications of actions. Friends and family members may be the only ones to see that a person is acting abnormally or making bad decisions.
Signs of Hypomania
The symptoms of a hypomanic episode are similar to a manic episode, but they are less extreme, according to NIMH. Some common signs include the following:
- Poor judgment
- More likely to be angry or agitated
- Lack of self-control (over eating, sex, spending money)
- More active and energetic
- Less need for sleep
- Distracted easily
- Periods of fast-talking
Because hypomanic symptoms are less severe, they may be overlooked at first. The extra confidence and inspiration they bring to a person may also make them seem very desirable.
One way to effectively manage hypomania is by staying aware of shifting moods. In a Psychology Today article, author Tom Wootton recommends understanding the intensity of emotions. This helps a person recognize when emotions are higher than normal and the awareness gives him the ability to take more control.
While a hypomanic episode feels good, decisions made during this state can cause serious problems for the individual or family and friends. Hypomania is also an indication that a manic episode may be next. As a way to manage the intensity of feelings during this state Wootton suggests having a plan in place to manage the symptoms. Instead of embracing the feelings, find a way to reduce the severity of them. Recruit family members or friends to encourage healthy steps, such as making a medical appointment, reducing stress levels or taking several time outs during the day.
Treating Bipolar Disorder
A combination of medication and behavioral therapy is used to treat bipolar disorder. While it is not possible to cure the disease, medical professionals work with individuals to keep mood swings to a minimum and to avoid major disruptions to daily living. Mood stabilizers are commonly prescribed for bipolar sufferers, but other classes of drugs may be needed, such as antipsychotic and anti-anxiety drugs. Antidepressants also are used, but since they may bring on a manic state, they are used less frequently and along with mood stabilizers.
Need Help Finding Treatment for Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder is a treatable disease with good outcomes for individuals who follow recommended protocols. If you or a loved one is struggling with bipolar disorder and a co-occurring condition like addiction, there are many effective options that offer healthy ways to cope with the disorders. Whether you need a longer-term residential stay or an outpatient treatment, we offer treatments that address your individual needs.
New research shows there are many effective options for treating mental health disorders. People who seek help learn skills that improve day-to-day life and enrich their relationships. If you or a loved one is suffering from bipolar disorder, please call our toll-free number. Our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to offer options for effective treatment. Call us today.