Bipolar disorder includes manic, and sometimes also depressive, episodes. Here’s how long symptoms of mania and its derivatives can last, depending on your type of bipolar disorder.
People with bipolar disorder experience manic episodes, as well as depressive episodes, of varying lengths. Hypomania is different from mania, and a third type of bipolar disorder can manifest with symptoms of hypomania.
When you’re experiencing a manic episode, you may find that you have more energy and an abnormally elevated mood — be it good or irritable. Your inhibitions may also be lowered. You may often struggle to sleep or relax during these episodes.
While you can’t predict exactly how long a manic episode will last, remembering that it won’t last forever can help you get through it.
The length of manic or hypomanic symptoms depends on the type of bipolar disorder you have, according to the
Generally speaking, these are the durations:
|Bipolar I||Manic episodes of varying lengths. It may or may not include depressive episodes.||Mania lasts 1 week or longer.|
|Bipolar II||Alternating hypomanic (less severe mania in intensity) and depressive episodes of varying lengths.||Hypomania lasts 4 days or longer.|
|A chronic but milder form of bipolar disorder. Periods of hypomanic symptoms or depression last for at least 2 years.||Symptoms of hypomania last hours or days at a time for at least a 2-year span.|
|Mixed episodes||A condition in which mania and depression occur simultaneously. You may feel hopeless and depressed, yet energetic and motivated to engage in behaviors that may have harmful outcomes.||Mania lasts 1 week or longer.|
|Rapid cycling||A specifier for bipolar I, II, or cyclothymia. Episodes can cycle four or more times in a year. It can happen for a time, at any point in the course of your diagnosis.||Mania lasts 4 days or longer.|
As mentioned above, symptoms of mania differ by disorder.
A manic episode is characterized by these outward signs:
- problems sleeping or resting
- rapid speech
- restlessness, fidgeting
- heightened irritability
- extreme happiness and excitement
During periods of mania, you may make decisions that can result in long-term consequences. You might also create elaborate plans or start new business ventures.
The difference between mania and hypomania is that hypomania is less intense and shorter in duration.
Cyclothymia features only symptoms of hypomania, which is why it’s often underdiagnosed and misdiagnosed.
If you’re currently experiencing a manic episode, there are a few things you can do.
- Reach out to your treatment team. Your doctor, psychiatrist, or therapist can help you navigate your episode. They may recommend that you start or change medication.
- Avoid mind-altering substances like alcohol or recreational drugs. Becoming intoxicated can worsen your manic episode or interfere with your medication management.
- Get plenty of sleep. It might be hard to sleep during a manic episode, but try to go to bed and wake up at a regular time. You might find that certain sleep hygiene practices help.
- Eat according to a regular schedule. Hunger can destabilize your mood. Reduce your consumption of caffeine and sugary foods, as these can also affect your mood.
- Spend time with others. If you attend a support group, this might be helpful. Spending time with people close to you and your condition can help you feel more validated and less isolated.
- Stay consistent with meds. No matter whether you’re experiencing a manic episode or not, it’s important to consistently take medication that’s been prescribed to you according to your doctor’s directions. Setting a reminder on your phone might help you during episodes.
Experiencing a manic episode can be difficult and stressful. The good news is that, with the help of your therapist and doctor, you can navigate your manic episode well. During manic episodes, it’s important to keep taking your medication and maintaining a regular and healthy schedule.
Want to learn more about creating a routine to manage bipolar disorder? You can get tips here.