Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that affects millions of people around the world. One common feature of bipolar disorder is mood swings, which can range from mild to extreme emotional highs and lows. The emotional highs in bipolar disorder are known as manic or hypomanic episodes. While mania can be a severe form of emotional high with significant functional impairment, hypomania is a milder form of manic episode. Hypomania symptoms are usually observed in people with bipolar disorder type II, but it can also occur in people with other types of bipolar and related disorders.
Hypomania is characterized by an elevated, expansive or irritable mood, increased energy, impulsiveness, and a decreased need for sleep. The symptoms of hypomania often last for several days to a few weeks, and they can have significant implications for a person’s functioning, relationships, and overall well-being.
If you or someone you know has bipolar disorder or are experiencing symptoms of hypomania, it’s essential to understand the signs and cope with them effectively. In this post, we’ll explore hypomania symptoms, the effects they can have, and strategies for navigating the highs of hypomania.
Hypomania can manifest in different ways, and the symptoms displayed change with each individual. It’s crucial to note that these symptoms should be observed over an extended period and affect a person’s ability to function to be considered hypomania.
Some of the common symptoms of hypomania include:
Hypomania Symptoms – Elevated, Expansive or Irritable Mood
The most prominent symptom of hypomania is an elevated, expansive or irritable mood that can last for several days to weeks. During this period, a person may feel a heightened sense of euphoria, optimism and self-confidence. This feeling can cause them to take on more activities than usual and be easily distracted by new projects and ideas.
Hypomania Symptoms – Increased Energy and Activity Levels
Increased energy levels and activity are common symptoms of hypomania. An individual might not be able to sleep as much as usual and show signs of insomnia. This excess energy can make it difficult to stay calm, relaxed, or still, especially when surrounded by other people or situations that require patience and focus.
Hypomania Symptoms – Difficulty Concentrating
People going through hypomanic episodes may struggle to concentrate on a particular task due to the intense preoccupation and racing thoughts. As a result, it becomes difficult to complete tasks that require extended periods of focus and concentration, leading to forgetfulness and inefficiency.
Hypomania Symptoms – Rapid and Pressured Speech
Individuals experiencing hypomania may struggle with pressured speech, speaking at a faster pace than usual, which can make it hard for others to understand what they are saying. This state of mind often leads the individual to interrupt others and switch topics abruptly or talk more than what the situation calls for. It can be overwhelming to listen or converse with someone in this state and can make it difficult to have meaningful conversations.
Hypomania Symptoms – Risky Behaviours
Hypomanic individuals are at risk of engaging in risky behaviors due to their disinhibited nature and feeling of invincibility. This behaviour might include unsafe sex, substance abuse, gambling, or spending an excessive amount of money. These activities may provide a temporary release from the mental confusion that comes with hypomania but can have long-term consequences.
The financial recklessness associated with hypomania can lead to debt and financial problems that can cause further stress on already existing relationships. The individual may feel ashamed and embarrassed by the choices they made while in a hypomanic state and this guilt can cause further psychological distress.
Hypomania Symptoms – Increased Libido or Sexual Behaviour
Hypomania can profoundly affect an individual’s sexual behaviour, leading to increased libido and strong desires for physical contact or intimacy. These changes may not be welcomed by the individual’s partner, leading to conflicts and social complications.
Individuals experiencing hypomanic episodes may be more likely to take risks with their sexual behaviour, such as engaging in unprotected sex or multiple partners, which increases the risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
Hypomania Symptoms – Confusion or Disorientation
During a hypomanic episode, individuals may experience mental confusion or even disorientation, which leads to difficulty in managing thoughts, making rational choices or considering consequences before taking risks. This confusion may be a result of rapid thoughts, feeling overwhelmed, or being unable to focus. An individual may find themselves getting lost in tasks, ideas, or even their imagination, further exacerbating hypomanic symptoms.
Disorientation during hypomania can also impact the person’s sense of reality or awareness of their surroundings. An abstract way of thinking can lead them to feel disconnected from their environment, which can cause social and occupational difficulties. Hypomania can impair both decision-making abilities and judgment, leading to poor choices or behavior that is out of character.
While hypomania isn’t as disruptive as full-blown mania, it can still have profound effects on a person’s mental health, social relationships, and overall well-being. Here are some of the potential consequences of hypomania:
One of the most significant risks of hypomania is that it can impair a person’s judgment. Hypomanic episodes can lead to irrational and impulsive decision-making, which can have serious consequences, such as financial problems or unsafe behaviours.
People with hypomania may exhibit behaviours that can strain relationships, such as being overly critical, irritable, or argumentative. Additionally, risk-taking behaviours such as increased sexual promiscuity, may lead to distress and damage personal relationships.
Skipping sleep and ignoring the body’s need for rest can lead to numerous health problems, from fatigue to heart disease. Also, long-term hypomania can lead to depression and suicidal ideation, making it essential to seek treatment as soon as possible.
Navigating the Highs of Hypomania
Hypomania symptoms can be challenging to manage. Here are some of the strategies that can help navigate hypomania’s highs:
1. Know Your Triggers
Triggers are external factors that can contribute, cause, or exacerbate hypomanic symptoms. These triggers might include lack of sleep, heightened emotions, relationship tension, and drug or alcohol consumption. Making a habit of keeping a journal on triggers can assist in identifying the factors that lead to hypomania and taking necessary precautionary measures to avoid them.
2. Seek Support
Hypomania is a treatable condition that can be managed with the help of a licensed therapist or mental health professional. Therapy and counseling sessions can help individuals better understand the causes of their symptoms, as well as develop personalized strategies for managing episodes of hypomania.
Furthermore, joining a support group can provide a safe environment where individuals experiencing similar issues are able to share their experiences and offer mutual understanding and encouragement. Support groups may also provide helpful information about how to best manage this condition, as well as important resources to get additional assistance or advice when needed. Finally, medication might be prescribed in order to control certain behavioral patterns that may contribute to an individual’s hypomanic episodes.
3. Establish A Daily Routine
A daily routine can be beneficial for managing hypomanic episodes. Establishing healthy sleep and wake cycles helps to regulate an individual’s biological clock, making it easier for them to fall asleep and wake up on time. Additionally, creating regular mealtimes helps keep energy levels stable throughout the day, reducing the likelihood of impulsivity or irritability caused by sudden drops in blood sugar.
Moreover, a structured daily schedule can provide structure and consistency which can lead to a sense of stability. This stability reduces the risk of symptoms such as decreased focus, lack of concentration and impulsivity that are common with hypomania. It is important to remember that even small changes in routine, while still maintaining a basic structure, can have positive effects on overall mental health and help manage hypomanic episodes.
4. Practice Mindfulness
Being mindful gives one the ability to identify the onset of hypomania symptoms and take appropriate steps to manage them. Mindfulness is about being aware of one’s thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations and living in the present moment.
Practicing mindfulness techniques like deep-breathing exercises, meditation, or visualization can help a person to reduce anxiety and stress levels and manage their hypomanic symptoms
5. Connect with Others
Developing and maintaining a support system is essential for managing hypomanic episodes. Connecting with loved ones, peers, or mental health professionals can provide an outlet to discuss one’s thoughts and feelings without judgment. Additionally, these individuals can offer guidance and advice regarding helpful coping strategies or techniques to manage symptoms.
They can also serve as accountability partners and remind you of the importance of following through with treatment plans or taking necessary steps to reduce any potentially triggering situations. Having a support system will not only help reduce symptoms of hypomania but also provide encouragement and understanding during difficult times.
6. Seek Medical Help
Hypomanic episodes can present with severe symptoms, including a decreased ability to concentrate, insomnia, excessive talkativeness, impulsivity and irritability. These symptoms can contribute to disruptions in daily living and affect an individual’s overall well-being. When these symptoms become too overwhelming or worse over time, it is essential to seek professional help in order to manage them.
Treatment for hypomanic episodes typically involves pharmacological interventions such as medication or psychotherapy. A licensed mental health professional can help assess the individual’s needs and recommend strategies tailored to the person’s goals and lifestyle.
Treatment may include cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) or other forms of psychotherapy that focus on recognizing patterns of behaviour, managing emotions and learning new coping strategies. In addition, medications like mood stabilizers or antipsychotics may be prescribed to reduce symptoms of hypomania. With the right combination of treatments, individuals can gain better control over their condition and experience improved mental health outcomes.
Hypomania is a condition that can be challenging to manage at times but with support and professional guidance, individuals can gain control over their symptoms and improve their overall mental health. Establishing a strong support system and seeking appropriate treatments are essential in managing hypomanic episodes. With the right combination of interventions, individuals can lead a more fulfilling life where they have the tools to navigate through any difficult moments that arise.
Important information for anyone struggling with suicidal thoughts
If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide, please act immediately. Contact a mental health professional or call a suicide hotline in your area.
In the United States, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, as well as prevention and crisis resources.
You can call the Lifeline at +1 800 273 8255. They also have a chat function on their website that you can use if you do not feel like talking.
In Canada, the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention provides resources and support to those affected by suicide.
In the United Kingdom you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Helpline or call them on 0800 689 5652.
If you are in another country, please visit this page for a list of international suicide hotlines.