What is Mania?
Mania is a temporary but extreme emotional high. It often occurs in individuals with bipolar disorder, but may also be prevalent in those suffering from depression. In bipolar disorder, manic episodes are offset by extreme emotional lows. As such, mania can be clearly recognized by people interacting with or observing the affected individual, but the individual may not recognize it in themselves.
Mania is characterized by sudden and intense changes in mood, thought patterns, energy levels, and even self-esteem. These changes can cause an individual to engage in risky behaviors during a manic episode. Risky behaviors can put the individual’s health at risk and are a major concern related to mania.
Receiving treatment as soon as possible is essential in the management of mania. Manic episodes may worsen and lead to increasingly dangerous behaviors when left untreated.
Signs of Mania
If you have mania, the people around you will notice. This condition is mainly characterized by changes in mood, but there are other important symptoms, too:
Mood swings are one of the most evident signs of mania. Someone experiencing mania may have intense excitability, inflated self-confidence, extreme friendliness or sociability, feelings of superiority, and unexpected changes to anger or irritability.
People experiencing a manic episode may have impaired judgement and make poor or risky decisions. This may involve making commitments that they can’t keep, such as agreeing to new projects without the time or resources to complete them. Or, the individual may participate in risky activities like gambling, spending large amounts of money, or engaging sexual activity impulsively.
Poor judgement during a manic episode can have long-lasting implications. For example, if an individual spend their entire life savings during a manic episode, they could experience financial hardship for years to come.
Shifts in thought processes
Someone with mania may appear to think in a completely different way during an episode. The individual may have huge boosts in creativity and claim to have an epiphany (or several). Mania may also cause racing thoughts, a sudden fixation on religion, disorientation, or “flight of ideas”, which is a symptom commonly associated with bipolar disorder.
Changes in energy level
Mania usually causes sudden and extremely high energy levels. High energy can cause the individual to move constantly for no apparent reason and have a sudden interest in accomplishing goals (completing a project, for example). High energy levels can also lead to restlessness, talkativeness, an inability to sit still, and difficulty sleeping.
Severe cases of mania can cause symptoms of psychosis. This most commonly occurs in bipolar patients. Symptoms of psychosis include hallucinations, paranoia, and delusions.
How is Mania Treated?
There are two main treatment methods for mania: medications and psychotherapy. It’s important to seek professional treatment as soon as possible when you recognize symptoms of mania. An individual with mania may not recognize the symptoms in their own behavior, so intervention of a friend or family member may be necessary.
Doctors often prescribe medications to treat mania, especially in patients with bipolar disorder.
Lifestyle changes can accompany medications to reduce the risk of manic episodes. These include regular exercise, a balanced diet, a consistent sleep schedule, and limited caffeine intake.
Psychotherapy to treat mania often involves cognitive behavioral therapy. This therapy method identifies the thought processes that lead to mania and related behaviors. It can help pinpoint triggering or troublesome thought patterns then gradually replace them with healthier thoughts and behaviors. Over time this method may reduce the chances of having a manic episode.
WHEN TO SEE A MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONAL
Mental health issues are real, common, and treatable. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 20% of those are considered serious. 17% of 6-17 year olds experience a mental health disorder. So the first thing to remember is this: You are not alone.
If you feel that you are suffering from a mental illness, and particularly if those issues are preventing you from living life to the full or feeling yourself, you may want to consider professional help which can make an enormous difference.
And to be clear, you don't need to be going through a crisis in order to justify getting help. In fact, it can be advantageous from a treatment perspective to identify and deal with issues early and before they have a major impact on your life. Either way you should feel encouraged and able to seek help however you are feeling.
Mental health professionals such as licensed therapist can help in a range of ways including:
- Help you identify where, when, and how issues arise
- Develop coping strategies for specific symptoms and issues
- Encourage resilience and self-management
- Identify and change negative behaviors
- Identify and encourage positive behaviors
- Heal pain from past trauma
- Figure out goals and waypoints
- Build self-confidence
Treatment for mental health issues, and psychotherapy (sometimes known as 'talk therapy') in particular, frequently helps people to feel better, manage, and even get rid of their symptoms. For example, did you know that over 80% of people treated for depression materially improve? Or that treatment for panic disorder has a 90% success rate?
Other treatment options include medication which, in some cases, can be highly effective when administered in combination with psychotherapy.
So what is psychotherapy? It involves talking about your problems and concerns with a mental health professional. It can take lots of forms, including individual, group, couples and family sessions. Often, people see their therapists once a week for 50 minutes to start with and then reducing frequency as time goes on and issues subside. Treatment can be as short as a few weeks or as long as a few years depending on your particular situation and response.
Never think that getting help is a sign of weakness. It isn't. In fact, it can be a sign of strength and maturity to take the steps necessary to becoming you again and getting your life back on track.
WHEN TO GET EMERGENCY HELP
Are you in distress? If so, or if you think that you may hurt yourself or attempt suicide, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.
Also consider these options if you're having suicidal thoughts:
- Call your mental health specialist.
- Call a suicide hotline number — in the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).
- Seek help from your primary doctor or other health care provider.
- Reach out to a close friend or loved one.
- Contact a minister, spiritual leader or someone else in your faith community.
If a loved one or friend is in danger of attempting suicide or has made an attempt:
- Make sure someone stays with that person.
- Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.
- Or, if you can do so safely, take the person to the nearest hospital emergency room.