What Can You Do When You Experience A Manic Episode?

Published 07/01/2022

Having a manic episode is often described as feeling “electric”. In the midst of a manic episode, a person is not merely happy, but rather absolutely over the brim with energy, even to a point that may feel scary, or frustrating.

While from the outside, mania may sound like something desirable, in reality, manic episodes can be very dangerous. When a person is manic, they are not totally in control, so they often neglect to care for themselves or make rash, impulsive decisions. Manic episodes could also make someone irritable, potentially ready to snap at anyone who gets in the way of their grandiose plans.

It is important to identify when you are exhibiting manic behavior. In a manic state, you could make bad decisions that will impact you later, and, at the very worst, you could be at risk of hurting yourself or someone you love.

What is a manic episode?

Before we define mania, it’s important to note that manic episodes are not a stand-alone disorder, but rather a symptom of bipolar disorder. Bipolar is characterized by going through severe highs and lows.

The “highs” of bipolar are manic episodes. Although described as the “highs”, manic episodes are often not pleasant or enjoyable, but rather a kind of dangerous energy overload. In fact, the manic definition is: “Showing wild, apparently deranged, excitement and energy.”

Manic episodes are often characterized by:

  • Feeling significantly more upbeat than usual
  • Being particularly jumpy, nervous, tense, and edgy
  • Feeling irritable and becoming quickly agitated
  • High levels of energy and activity
  • Extreme self-confidence and feelings of self-grandeur
  • Sleeping very little and feeling energized regardless
  • Being easily distracted, partaking in a lot of multi-tasking
  • Talking a lot more than usual and speaking very quickly
  • Racing thoughts that are difficult to control
  • Making impulsive, poor decision-making with little regard for consequences
  • In extreme cases, detaching from reality and experiencing a psychotic episode or hallucinations

The “lows” of bipolar are depressive episodes. During a depressive episode, a person may experience the following symptoms:

  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Becoming irritable or angry
  • A loss of energy
  • Excessive sleep or inability to sleep
  • Sluggishness and slowness both mentally and physically
  • Changes in appetite, eating habits, and weight
  • Difficulty remembering things and concentrating
  • Feelings of guilt and worthlessness
  • No longer enjoying things that once brought you happiness. This could be something like a hobby, or even more simple things like music, smells, or color.
  • A feeling that is not so much “sadness” but rather “emptiness”. A depressed person may feel a total lack of purpose, hope, and joy.

People with bipolar disorder do not frequently fluctuate between these highs and lows, and depressive episodes or manic episodes can last for weeks to months. In fact, people with bipolar disorder are usually more often depressed than they are manic.

What does a manic episode feel like?

The first and most important step to controlling your manic episode will be to determine when you are experiencing one. It is important to note, however, that mania examples will be different for everyone, and while there are general trends, it is important to speak with a professional counselor to identify exactly what you are experiencing, and what your treatment options may be.

During a manic episode, you experience some of the following symptoms:

  • You feel extremely energized, to a point that may become frightening
  • You start many projects, possibly just to abandon them later
  • You feel extremely creative and inspired
  • You feel excessively confident like you are destined for greatness
  • If you offend someone or cause problems, it does not bother you
  • You feel too hyper to control your decisions
  • You can’t slow down or pump the brakes, even if you want to
  • You engage in “pressured speech” which is when your words can’t go fast enough to keep up with your thoughts, and you end up speaking quickly, speaking a lot, and speaking over people
  • You open your eyes very widely and blink less
  • In extreme cases, mania can even lead to psychosis (a detachment from reality) and hallucinations

People with bipolar usually experience their first manic episode in their teenage years or early adulthood.

Bipolar disorder is a condition that tends to worsen if it goes undiagnosed, so early diagnosis is key.

If you believe you are experiencing mania, consider taking this screening test to get some answers: https://www.mind-diagnostics.org/mania-test

Mania vs. Hypomania

To put it in simple terms, hypomania is a less extreme version of mania. Hypomania may make you feel happy and productive, and in some cases, that’s as far as it goes. But for people who have manic episodes, hypomania is like a more moderate checkpoint between mania and depression.

Hypomania may make you feel happy, but mania makes you feel more than just happy, to the point where you are euphoric and reckless.

Hypomania might spur you to clean up your whole house. Mania could prompt you to take out a massive loan and buy a new house.

There are two types of bipolar disorder: bipolar I and bipolar II. People with bipolar I experience manic episodes, which are then followed by a hypomanic episode or a depressive episode. With bipolar I, the manic episodes may be very extreme, leading to psychosis and hallucination. People with bipolar II have depressive episodes and may experience hypomania, but not full-on manic episodes.

10 Things to do When You’re Having a Manic Episode

  1. Recognize what’s happening. As mentioned above, the first and most important step to managing a manic episode will be identifying that you are having one, or recognizing that you are prone to mania. Being aware of your condition beforehand will be important, because once you are in the midst of a manic episode, it may become a lot more difficult to control your actions.
  2. Try to maintain a stable sleep pattern. This step can help prevent a manic episode from starting in the first place, and it can help you control a manic episode once it is already happening. Even if you feel well-rested after very little sleep, abnormal sleep patterns change the chemicals in your body, which can worsen your symptoms.

  1. Set and keep a consistent routine. Try to go to bed and get up at the same time every day. Keep a nighttime routine designed to help you calm down, like meditation or breathing exercises. Try using your excess energy to work out in the morning.
  2. Eat regularly. Sometimes mania comes with a loss of appetite. Try to eat regularly to keep your body and mind healthy.
  3. Keep your goals realistic. You may feel inspired to set lofty goals both for your life and career and with your treatment plan. But while managing a manic episode, there will probably be times when you step outside your plans or you don’t fulfill exactly the goals you were hoping for. That is normal and totally fine.
  4. Do not use alcohol, drugs, or caffeine. Illegal drugs, alcohol, and even coffee can interfere with your medications, your sleep, and your mood. All these alterations might make your symptoms worse.
  5. Do not make life-altering decisions. You may feel inspired to make a large purchase, take out a loan, act recklessly in your sexual endeavors, or make other long-term decisions. But resist the urge. If you really want to do something that could be permanent, speak with a friend or loved one first and listen to their advice.
  6. Reach out to someone you trust. Before the manic episode begins, be open with someone you trust about your bipolar symptoms and your mania. Speak with them and put a plan in place so that they know what to do when you experience a manic episode. They could be vital in preventing you from making major, life-altering decisions, keeping you from drugs and alcohol, and helping you tell the difference between what is real and what is a result of psychosis.
  7. Keep a mood journal. This is another preventative measure that will help you recognize your symptoms and triggers. If you start noticing a pattern in your mood changes that usually precedes a manic episode, then seek treatment from a counselor either in your area or online.
  8. Do not stop taking your meds. If you have been prescribed medication from a professional, you may feel so good toward the beginning of a manic episode that you decide to go off your meds. But it is important to never adjust medications on your own. For all guidance regarding treatment, please consult a licensed medical professional.

Conclusion: What Can You Do When You Experience A Manic Episode?

Bipolar is a treatable condition, and many people who experience bipolar and mania are still able to carry out productive, happy lives with healthy relationships.

Your first step to managing manic episodes will be to understand perfectly not only what bipolar is and what it usually looks like, but also how mania feels with you specifically. While there are general statements and trends among bipolar and mania, the greatest favor you can do for yourself is research mania and take a mania test online, then speak with a healthcare professional if symptoms persist.

If you feel affected by mania or if you are in a manic episode, remember to recognize what’s happening, maintain a stable sleep pattern, keep a consistent routine, eat regularly, maintain realistic goals, avoid alcohol and illegal drugs, avoid life-altering decisions, reach out to someone you trust, keep a mood journal, and do not stop taking your meds.

With some consistency and dedication, you can get your mania under control to the point where it no longer negatively affects your life and daily happiness.