Mania in bipolar disorder can blindside you, but you can manage it mindfully if you know what to look for.
For people living with certain types of bipolar disorder, episodes of mania can be intense, challenging experiences.
Mania is when a person feels extremely energetic, euphoric, or irritable, for days, weeks, or months on end.
When you’re experiencing symptoms of mania, you might do things impulsively that have social, sexual, financial, work-related, or legal consequences. You may also need only a few hours of sleep but still feel lively.
It can be challenging to function — learn, work, parent, and so much more — when an episode arises, but learning strategies to cope can give you an advantage in managing your mania.
While we have some ideas, experts don’t know the exact cause of bipolar disorder or mania. Still, there are several strategies you can try to help reduce or prevent episodes of mania.
Don’t miss a dose of your meds
It’s important to take yours meds every day as prescribed. Sticking to your treatment plan is essential for preventing mania from escalating.
If you’re concerned about medication side effects or want to make adjustments, you can reach out to your treatment team. They can help you figure out the best next steps.
Avoid anything that may interact with your meds
Drinking alcohol while taking medications for bipolar disorder can lead to issues with memory, poor judgment, confusion, dizziness, and more.
The same goes for cannabis use. Despite some opinions that cannabis can help calm symptoms of mania, it can actually exacerbate manic episodes.
If you’re not sure what else might interact with your meds, you can reach out to your doctor or a pharmacist for advice.
Get regular sleep
Getting enough sleep not only helps your overall well-being, but can make a difference in managing bipolar disorder symptoms.
Make sure to prioritize your sleep. Consider:
- Sleeping and waking up at the same time every day.
- Develop a peaceful, regular sleep routine that works for you.
- Create a soothing sleep environment and avoid screens before bed.
Track your symptoms and moods
To figure out when you might start having an episode of mania, it can help to keep track of any mania-related shifts in your moods and symptoms. Using a calendar, planner, app, or journal, you can learn your body’s rhythm and cycle.
It can be enlightening and motivating to check in with yourself, like how you’re feeling and any changes in behaviors that you or others have noticed.
Practicing any type of self-care — even if it’s small — can help improve your mood. So make time every day to do things you enjoy.
Creating specific routines and forms of self-care can help you better manage your condition and prevent mood episodes.
Everyone is different, but several things that happen in your day-to-day life can potentially trigger mania:
- not getting enough sleep
- stress, such as from school or work,or in your relationships
- substance use
- certain medications
Understanding how everyday events may lead to mania means you can be proactive in your mental health and well-being.
Common cues for mania
- having trouble falling asleep
- feeling more talkative than usual
- feeling happier, more energetic, or edgier
- taking on more activities than usual
For people with bipolar disorder, the causes of mania are still unclear. Mania can be set off by certain lifestyle factors like lack of sleep or substance use. It may also occur after a significant event such as childbirth or trauma.
Some other possible causes of mania include:
- changes in season; some people may be more likely to experience mania in the spring
- a big life change, like moving or going through a breakup
- side effects of a medication change
- someone in your family having bipolar disorder
Manic episodes have specific symptoms that can let you know if you may be about to enter into one.
Symptoms of a manic episode include:
- feeling a flood of energy, even with only a few hours of sleep
- suddenly starting a bunch of projects
- talking a lot or very fast
- having racing thoughts or an endless fountain of ideas
- feeling more sociable than usual
- engaging in behaviors without thought of harm or consequence, such as substance use or spending a lot of money
For some people, an episode of mania may result in hospitalization if symptoms are severe.
Types of bipolar disorder that include mania
Mania is a feature of bipolar I disorder and bipolar disorder with mixed episodes.
In other types of bipolar disorder like bipolar II, someone might experience hypomania. This is a slightly more subdued form of mania where the symptoms are the same but less severe.
In hypomania, symptoms may be aggravating or a nuisance, but aren’t usually as noticeable as symptoms of mania.
Episodes of mania in bipolar disorder can be challenging to navigate. It can be tricky to recognize the signs of an impending mood episode or know what to do when one comes on.
Everyone’s lived experience with bipolar disorder is unique, and the same goes for mania. Mania may present differently for you than for someone else, so learning more about it can help you figure out what your episodes look like.
With the help of preventive strategies, medication, and self-care, you can feel better and manage your mania before it escalates.