What Is the Difference Between Mania and Hypomania?

May 15, 2024

Mania and hypomania are both mood states present in people with bipolar disorder. What is the difference between mania and hypomania, though? Mania is present in individuals with Bipolar I. Hypomania is a less severe form of mania. It’s present in individuals with Bipolar II. Hypomania is also shorter in duration. Mania requires hospitalization. On the other hand, hypomania can usually be handled without the patient entering an inpatient mental health facility. However, there are many documented cases of hypomania escalating into mania. Today, we will explore the differences between these two mood states in detail. We will also briefly cover bipolar disorder treatment and what it’s like to have a functional life with this diagnosis.

Two sticky notes showing teh difference between mania and hypomania
Mania differs from hypomania in the length of duration, need for hospitalization, sleep patterns, and how functional the individual can be while it lasts

Defining Mania and Hypomania

Dramatic, unpredictable fluctuations in mood characterize bipolar disorder. In Bipolar I and II (there are other types of bipolar disorder, such as cyclothymic disorder), the individual goes from depressive episodes to manic or hypomanic episodes. These symptoms characterize manic episodes.

  • feelings of euphoria (extreme happiness)
  • increased energy and activity levels, sometimes with insomnia or decreased quality of sleep, and the individual forgetting to do other things like eat or drink water
  • racing thoughts
  • rapid speech
  • impulsivity and poor decision-making
  • grandiosity or inflated self-esteem
  • risky behavior like overspending, using substances, or engaging in sexual relations that end up being distressing to the individual (they may cheat on their partners, be careless about using protection, or engage in types of sexual relations that they don’t usually enjoy)
  • in some cases, delusions
  • some individuals experience auditory and visual hallucinations both during their manic and depressive episodes; the hallucinations tend to match the manic nature of their mood state

Manic episodes last at least one week, sometimes more. They may require hospitalization if the severity of the manic episode escalates. Hypomania is a less severe version of mania that lasts for a shorter amount of time (four days on average). Hypomanic episodes don’t always fully impair the ability of the individual to complete their daily tasks. However, hypomanic episodes have been known to escalate into mania.

A woman looking in the mirror and thinking about the difference between mania and hypomania
Mania and hypomania can produce rapid speech and rapid action

Key Differences Between Mania and Hypomania

One of the key differences is that hypomania rarely requires hospitalization. Of course, if a hypomanic individual is too distressed to function during a hypomanic episode, they should always have a consultation with their doctor about it. Even though mania and hypomania are two separate mood states, there is some overlap. This is why sometimes hypomania can escalate into mania if it isn’t handled correctly.

Another of the key differences is the fact that the decreased need for sleep in hypomania isn’t as drastic as in manic episodes. People in a hypomanic episode may sleep for far less than average. However, they do still get some sleep. People with manic episodes are generally operating on no sleep or just one or two hours of sleep for a week, which can be dangerous. This is so because sleep is necessary for proper cognitive function, and sleeping less can lead to even more impulsivity and poor decision-making.

The final key difference is how functional the individual is during manic versus hypomanic episodes. Manic individuals are generally not functional during manic episodes. However, some people can still complete academic work, household maintenance, and self-care tasks during hypomanic episodes. This is so because hypomanic episodes come with an increase in self-esteem and self-confidence, as well as enthusiasm when completing goal-oriented activities. Even though it is rare, a lot of people with Bipolar II have used their hypomanic episodes to their professional advantage. This is especially the case in more creative or commission-based fields.

two women talking
People with bipolar disorder can lead healthy, successful lives with the right treatment

Causes and Triggers

Manic and hypomanic episodes occur most frequently in individuals who qualify for a bipolar disorder diagnosis. Only one instance of a manic or hypomanic episode is enough to warrant said diagnosis. That said, these are some of the causes and triggers of a manic or hypomanic episode in an individual with this condition:

  • Taking antidepressants on their own has been known to trigger manic or hypomanic episodes. That is why it’s important to get the right diagnosis if you have depressive symptoms, which are also characteristic of bipolar. The same is the case for corticosteroids. The phenomenon is called medical-induced mania.
  • Substance use of alcohol, stimulants, and illicit drugs, especially amphetamines and cocaine, have been known to elicit manic and hypomanic episodes.
  • Disruptions in sleep schedule, such as insufficient sleep or changes in sleep-wake cycles
  • Exposure to stressors and other life events such as major life changes, loss of a loved one, conflicts within a relationship, financial difficulties, and work-related stress
  • Seasonal changes, as some individuals with bipolar disorder have been known to experience seasonal patterns in their mood states, with mania or hypomania prevailing during the spring and summer and depression being the main mood state during fall and winter

No matter the cause or trigger, it’s always best to seek help the moment you feel the mania or hypomania is beginning. This can be tricky since manic or hypomanic individuals don’t always perceive the change in themselves, while their family, friends, coworkers, and even strangers are able to notice changes in their behavior.

a woman writing something down
DBT and CBT are effective in treating bipolar disorder

Treatment and Management of Bipolar Disorder

To this day, there is no single gold standard of care for bipolar disorder. In Georgia mental health services, people generally receive a combination of treatments, including medications a psychiatrist prescribes, psychotherapy, and lifestyle modifications. People with bipolar disorder generally take a combination of antidepressants, antipsychotics, and mood stabilizers. Sometimes, they may take additional medication, such as benzodiazepines, to handle stress or anxiety symptoms.

The psychotherapy that people with bipolar may receive is varied in nature. However, both CBT and DBT have been shown to be effective. These are the preferred choices in treatment programs. The lifestyle modifications they need to make generally revolve around getting enough sleep, avoiding substance use of any kind other than those their doctor prescribes, and managing stress through meditation, yoga, and mindfulness.

Living with Bipolar Disorder

Both adults and teenagers can have bipolar disorder. Diagnosing bipolar disorder in adolescents requires a comprehensive evaluation by a mental health professional, typically a psychiatrist or psychologist. This professional will thoroughly assess the adolescent’s symptoms, medical history, family history, and psychosocial functioning. The best bet for a teenager with mental health issues that match the symptoms of bipolar could be one of the adolescent inpatient mental health facilities in Georgia.

People with bipolar can lead functional lives, hold down jobs, and sustain long-term relationships. They have been known to be excellent parents and active members of their communities. Having good habits, routines, and a great support network around them can make a world of difference for them. The right medical care and mental health education is also essential for bipolar individuals to thrive, as is for any of the many similar mental health conditions out there. They need to know what’s up with their brain to get better. A person who doesn’t understand, for example, how dangerous stress or a lack of sleep is for them will not prioritize keeping their sleep hygiene.

Understanding the Difference Between Mania and Hypomania

Mania and hypomania are mood disorders characteristic of Bipolar I and II, respectively. The difference between mania and hypomania lies in severity, duration, whether they require hospitalization, and whether it impairs functioning for the individual. However, hypomania can escalate into mania if not handled properly. Mania is more severe than hypomania. It lasts, on average, a week, often requires hospitalization, and impairs the functioning of the individual. Hypomania lasts an average of four days, does not require hospitalization, and can often aid the individual in completing their daily tasks. Consult with Time Wellness Georgia if you suspect you have bipolar disorder or notice that you or a loved one are struggling with mental health.