Learn more about what mania is, what causes it and how you can tell if you have it.
Mania is an extreme, elevated mood state. Someone in a state of mania may describe their sensory experiences as more vivid and pleasant and experience increases in energy and alertness.
Typically, mania is a symptom of bipolar disorder, a condition characterized by periods of mania called “manic episodes” that experienced periodically. In the past, people referred to bipolar disorder as “mania disorder,” since mania is one of the primary signs of bipolar disorder. While mania commonly occurs with bipolar disorder, other conditions and factors can also trigger episodes of mania.
Article at a Glance:
- A common bipolar disorder symptom is mania, an extremely elevated mood state with increased alertness and energy.
- There are three stages of mania: hypomania, acute mania and delirious mania.
- Classifications of mania are mixed states, hypomania and associated disorders.
- Mania can occur in cycles over several weeks or months with no predictable triggers.
- Treatment for mania is often part of bipolar disorder treatment and may involve therapy, hospitalization and medications.
What Is Mania?
Mania is a heightened mood state that causes hyperactivity and a decreased need for sleep. Other common features of mania include:
- Mood changes
- Sudden increases in energy and activity
- Rapid speech that is difficult or impossible to interrupt
- Impaired judgment
- Flighty thoughts or thoughts that jump from topic to topic
In more severe cases of mania, people may also experience hallucinations and delusions. Many people who suspect they or someone they love has mania may ask, “What is mania disorder?” Mania disorder is sometimes used as another term for bipolar disorder and is typically the reason that mania occurs. However, while bipolar disorder often causes mania, it is not the only reason that mania occurs.
Stages of Mania
There are three stages of mania that may be experienced. People often first experience more mild forms of mania — like hypomania and acute mania — before progressing into a potentially dangerous delirious mania state.
- Hypomania (Stage I). Hypomania is a mild form of mania that may not be recognized as a significant symptom by those around the person experiencing it. While hypomania affects sleep and activity and may lead to increased impulsivity, it usually doesn’t require hospitalization or cause psychosis.
- Acute Mania (Stage II). During acute mania, an individual may experience increased impulsivity that causes them to act in a way that is brash, inappropriate or promiscuous. People with acute mania will also likely have increased energy, get little to no sleep and talk very quickly, often jumping from topic to topic. They may experience some symptoms of psychosis, where they are not fully aware of or connected to reality.
- Delirious Mania (Stage III). Delirious mania is the most severe of the three stages of mania. Its symptoms are similar to acute mania, with the addition of delirium. Delirium is temporary confusion and a decreased ability or inability to connect with reality. This stage can also involve a combination of mania and psychosis. Because delirious mania can be profoundly disorienting, many people experiencing it need to be hospitalized to prevent injury to themselves or others.
In addition to the stages of mania, different classifications of mania are also used to describe the various types of mania. These include mixed state mania, hypomania and mania caused by associated disorders.
Mixed state mania is an episode of mania that includes either hypomania or mania and depressive symptoms. This state does not usually produce the same elevation in mood that mania would produce by itself. The depressive features of mixed state mania may increase the risk of suicidal ideation while also increasing energy and impulsivity, which further increases the likelihood of a suicide attempt.
While hypomania is the first stage of mania, it is also a classification of mania. Those experiencing hypomania undergo significant changes in mood and may have disruptions in sleep, activity and impulsivity. The effects of hypomania, however, are not so severe that they will significantly impact people’s normal daily activities. Hypomania does not cause symptoms of psychosis, including hallucinations or a disconnect from reality.
Related Topic: Hypomanic treatment
Mania associated with bipolar disorder is not the only form of mania; there are also symptoms of other mental health conditions that mania mimics. Aside from bipolar disorder, other common causes of mania may include mania from other psychiatric conditions, mania due to an underlying medical condition — especially those that affect the thyroid — and mania caused by drugs or medications.
Signs and Symptoms of Mania
Many people wonder, “What does mania feel like?” There are multiple signs of mania that are experienced during a manic episode. These mania symptoms include:
- Increased energy
- Increased activity
- Significant changes in mood
- Decreased inhibition
- Flighty thought processes
- Extreme talkativeness
- Decreased sleep
The signs of bipolar mania include these manic episode symptoms over a prolonged period, normally for at least one week.
Causes of Mania
In any discussion about mania, people usually wonder, “What causes mania?” While there may be multiple causes of mania, the most common cause is bipolar disorder. Those with bipolar disorder tend to experience cycles of mania and depression over several weeks or months. In many cases, those with bipolar disorder don’t have any predictable mania triggers, making the onset of manic episodes unpredictable.
In addition to bipolar disorder, mania may also be caused by drugs or medications, especially stimulants. Certain other medical conditions, especially thyroid conditions or mental health diseases, may also cause episodes of mania.
Any diagnosis for a psychological syndrome, such as mania, is done using specific criteria listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). An individual must experience at least three of the following symptoms for at least a week to meet the criteria for bipolar disorder:
- Reduced need for sleep
- Increased rate of speech
- Being easily distracted
- Raised self-esteem
- Increased interest in goal-oriented activities
- Psychomotor agitation (such as pacing or hand-wringing)
- Increased pursuit of risky or dangerous activities
Mania Risk Factors
The most significant risk factors for mania are the risk factors for bipolar disorder, which commonly causes mania. These include having close relatives with bipolar disorder or having a history of substance abuse. Other risk factors of mania include using drugs recreationally or failing to treat underlying mental health conditions that may cause mania. Drug-induced mania is quite rare but is still something that may be experienced.
Because there is such a strong relationship between bipolar and mania, most mania statistics are tied to bipolar disorder statistics. Most research seems to report that statistically, 0.4–1.6% of adults will have an episode of mania at some point in their lives. There is some more recent research that reports this rate may be as high as 5–7%.
Mania Treatment and Recovery
Typically, acute mania treatment is part of a broader bipolar disorder treatment. The initial focus is usually placed on the more short-term mania recovery so that the person suffering from the manic episode can resume normal activities. Mania management may involve hospitalization and therapy with a psychiatrist. Long-term treatment to address the symptoms of bipolar disorder typically involves continued therapy and medications, such as lithium, anticonvulsants and antipsychotics. While this may be the typical course of treatment for many people, each person’s situation is unique, and someone with specific questions should seek the advice of a doctor.
If you or a loved one live with the symptoms of mania and addiction, consider reaching out to The Recovery Village. Call a representative today for more information.
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Merck Manuals Professional Edition. “Some Causes of Symptoms of Depression and Mania.” 2019. Accessed May 11, 2019.
Yutzy, Sean H. et al. “The Increasing Frequency of Mania and Bipolar Disorder.” The Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases, May 2012. Accessed May 11, 2019.
Vieta, Eduard. “Acute and Long-Term Treatment of Mania.” Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, June 2008. Accessed May 11, 2019.
The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.