Sharon's Tips for Mania and Hypomania
Mania and hypomania are symptoms of bipolar disorder. Though the two terms sound similar, it’s important to know they mean different things.
Mania involves having tremendous energy and no need for sleep. Thoughts are often so rapid that they cannot be organized, leaving you in a state of confusion.
During a manic episode, people lose their inhibitions and sensibilities and can end up engaging in risky behaviors. Anger, irritability, paranoia, grandiosity are some of the emotional states associated with mania — these behaviors can frighten others or drive them away.
Once you enter a manic state, getting help can be difficult because you have a low degree of self-awareness and do not often seek treatment voluntarily.
Hypomania is a less severe form of mania and usually comes before a manic episode. Hypomania is generally associated with a good mood and can be an intoxicating part of the bipolar experience.
Fueled with unending energy, a sense of invincibility and a stream of ideas and emotions, hypomania is hard to resist. It comes on very strong and offers instant gratification.
Yet once hypomania crosses into mania, important life pillars may be destroyed. Employment opportunities, family and finances — things that take years to build up can easily be destroyed in a matter of weeks.
Managing a Manic Episode
Before you enter a manic episode, make sure you have supporters. Once you are fully engaged in a manic episode, it is often difficult to get help because you may not feel you need it.
Make sure you have a few people you trust to step in when you become hypomanic or manic. Although it is hard to surrender control over to others, think about your prior manic episodes and how beneficial a friend would have been.
Once you enter a state of hypomania, make an appointment with your psychiatrist. You may need adjustments in your medications in order to prevent going into full-blown mania.
As always, take your medication as directed and continue to communicate with your doctor if the adjustments are not working.
Turn to Your Supports
Plug into your support systems. Do you have a therapist or a support group? These resources can help you explore solutions to your mania or hypomania.
Plus, there is the added benefit that now more people know what you are going through and you have broadened your support base.
Each person’s struggle with mania/hypomania is unique and will manifest in different problems. Know your demons and seek appropriate help from your family and friends. For example:
- If you struggle with excessive spending, you may want to surrender your credit cards to a trusted friend once you start feeling hypomanic.
- If you struggle with the urge to go out and excessively drink or do drugs, go to a 12-step meeting or set up alternative plans with a friend.
- If you struggle with hyper-sexuality, call a friend or make alternative plans so you do not do something you will later regret.
If you are in a place of grandiosity (excessive thoughts of self-worth) you may consider expressing everything in the confines and safety of your journal. Emotions and ideas flow so freely during mania/hypomania that is easy to say something damaging.
Take Time Off
If needed, take a few days off of work. This can allow you to catch up on your rest or just work out some of your manic energy. Furthermore, it may keep you away from potential conflicts at work.
Work on Mind-Body Connections
Start practicing some mind-body exercises. The mind-body connection is the belief that your thoughts can be used to positively impact your body’s physical response and therefore decreasing stress.
These exercises include:
- Chi Dong
- Tai Chi
Develop a Bedtime Ritual
Lack of sleep accelerates a manic episode, while regular sleep can help keep it under control. To create better sleep, avoid computer use an hour before bedtime, spend some time in meditation or have a cup of tea.
When it comes to managing a manic episode, experience is probably the best teacher. But always stay open to the many people and resources around you!