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What Is Hypomania? Is It Similar to Mania?

What Is Hypomania? Is It Similar to Mania?

If you’ve heard of mania, you might be wondering what hypomania is. Are the two the same? Is one more severe than the other? What are the treatment options?

When dealing with mental health, it’s important to have a clear understanding of different terms and exactly what they mean.

This article will shed some light on the key differences between mania and hypomania. Knowing how the two differ will help you to feel more informed, whether you’re the person suffering from hypomania, or you’re supporting a loved one during an episode.

What is hypomania?

Hypomania and mania are similar in many ways – they’re both periods of high-energy, excitability and overactivity that seriously impact your day to day life. [1]

However, there are a few key differences, which are listed below:

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  • Mania lasts for a week or more, while hypomania lasts for a few days.
  • The symptoms of hypomania are less severe than the symptoms of mania.
  • Mania has a severe negative impact on your day-to-day activities. Hypomania is usually less disruptive.

How to identify a hypomanic episode

Identifying a hypomanic episode can be difficult, especially if mania isn’t something you have much experience with.

For someone to be diagnosed with hypomania, they should have experienced at least three of the following symptoms for several days. The symptoms will be persistent – not just passing feelings. [2].

  • Increased self-esteem
  • Decreased need for sleep, lots of energy after very little rest
  • Speaking more than usual, or speaking in a very fast/excitable way
  • Racing thoughts
  • Getting distracted very easily
  • Becoming more goal-oriented than usual and wanting to get lots done
  • Doing things without regard for the consequences (e.g. unprotected sex, gambling, excessive spending)

While a hypomanic episode shouldn’t result in a serious disruption to the person’s everyday life, it will be clearly noticeable by friends and family.

For example, you might notice that a usually shy friend is suddenly very chatty and sociable, or a relative who usually procrastinates becomes extremely focused on goals, staying up all night to get things done.

Being able to clearly identify a hypomanic episode is really important, as it allows the person experiencing the episode to access the help and support they may need.

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What is the difference between mania and hypomania?

We’ve already listed a few key differences between mania and hypomania, but the examples below offer a more in-depth comparison.

Example #1

Hypomania: You might feel happy and excited, with lots of ideas.

Mania: You might believe you have special powers, are on a secret mission, or can see things other people can’t.

Example #2

Hypomania: You might be behave in a more flirtatious way than usual.

Mania: You might have unprotected sex or cheat on a long-term partner.

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Example #3

Hypomania: You might have heightened awareness – colours could appear brighter and bolder, or sounds might seem louder.

Mania: You might experience psychosis, hearing voices or seeing things that other people can’t.

Example #4

Hypomania: You notice that you feel different to usual.

Mania: You don’t notice any difference in the way you’re feeling or behaving, and don’t see any cause for concern.

Knowing the difference between mania and hypomania will help you to fully understand what’s going on.

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What causes hypomania?

There are many factors which contribute to hypomania. Hypomanic episodes can be a symptom of certain mood disorders, like bipolar disorder, but that isn’t always the case.

Listed below are some possible causes of hypomania:

  • Extreme stress or a big life change (e.g. moving house, leaving a job).
  • Change of season – for some people, hypomania happens only during a certain time of the year, like spring.
  • Alcohol or drug use/drug addiction.
  • Lack of sleep or changes to sleeping pattern (e.g. Starting to work night shifts).
  • Giving birth – some women experience hypomania as part of postpartum psychosis.
  • Taking medication – hypomania can be a side effect of certain prescribed drugs, like antidepressants.
  • Physical illness – some illnesses and conditions can trigger hypomania.

How is hypomania treated?

Mania and hypomania are treated in a variety of ways. One option is medication, and there are a number of antipsychotic drugs that your doctor may prescribe. These include haloperidol, olanzapine, quetiapine and risperidone. [3] It may take some trial and error to find the drug that works best for you. In rare cases, when other treatments have failed, your doctor may recommend electroconvulsive therapy.

You may also be offered talking therapy to help you to better understand hypomania and how to manage it. You’ll learn healthy coping strategies, ways to reduce the risk of a hypomanic episode, as well as having a chance to discuss your feelings.

Hypomania can be scary and confusing. Being fully informed will help you to deal with hypomanic episodes as effectively as possible.

Reference

[1] Psychology Today: Hypomania and mania
[2] Psych Central: Hypomanic Episode Symptoms
[3] NICE: Bipolar disorder: assessment and management

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Eloise Best

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Last Updated on June 20, 2019

Science Says Guitar Players’ Brains Are Different From Others’

Science Says Guitar Players’ Brains Are Different From Others’

There’s nothing quite like picking up a guitar and strumming out some chords. Listening to someone playing the guitar can be mesmerising, it can evoke emotion and a good guitar riff can bring out the best of a song. Many guitar players find a soothing, meditative quality to playing, along with the essence of creating music or busting out an acoustic version of their favourite song. But how does playing the guitar affect the brain?

More and more scientific studies have been looking into how people who play the guitar have different brain functions compared to those who don’t. What they found was quite astonishing and backed up what many guitarists may instinctively know deep down.

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Guitar Players’ Brains Can Synchronise

You didn’t read that wrong! Yes, a 2012 study[1] was conducted in Berlin that looked at the brains of guitar players. The researchers took 12 pairs of players and got them to play the same piece of music while having their brains scanned.

During the experiment, they found something extraordinary happening to each pair of participants – their brains were synchronising with each other. So what does this mean? Well, the neural networks found in the areas of the brain associated with social cognition and music production were most activated when the participants were playing their instruments. In other words, their ability to connect with each other while playing music was exceptionally strong.

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Guitar Players Have a Higher Intuition

Intuition is described as “the ability to understand something instinctively, without the need for conscious reasoning” and this is exactly what’s happening when two people are playing the guitar together.

The ability to synchronise their brains with each other, stems from this developed intuitive talent indicating that guitar players have a definite spiritual dexterity to them. Not only do their brains synchronise with another player, but they can also even anticipate what is to come before and after a set of chords without consciously knowing. This explains witnessing a certain ‘chemistry’ between players in a band and why many bands include brothers who may have an even stronger connection.

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This phenomenon is actually thought to be down to the way guitarists learn how to play – while many musicians learn through reading sheet music, guitar players learn more from listening to others play and feeling their way through the chords. This also shows guitarists have exceptional improvisational skills[2] and quick thinking.

Guitar Players Use More of Their Creative, Unconscious Brain

The same study carried out a different experiment, this time while solo guitarists were shredding. They found that experienced guitar players were found to deactivate the conscious part of their brain extremely easily meaning they were able to activate the unconscious, creative and less practical way of thinking more efficiently.

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This particular area of the brain – the right temporoparietal junction – typically deactivates with ‘long term goal orientation’ in order to stop distractions to get goals accomplished. This was in contrast to the non-guitarists who were unable to shut off the conscious part of their brain which meant they were consciously thinking more about what they were playing.

This isn’t to say that this unconscious way of playing can’t be learnt. Since the brain’s plasticity allows new connections to be made depending on repeated practice, the guitar player’s brain can be developed over time but it’s something about playing the guitar in particular that allows this magic to happen.

Conclusion

While we all know musicians have very quick and creative brains, it seems guitar players have that extra special something. Call it heightened intuition or even a spiritual element – either way, it’s proven that guitarists are an exceptional breed unto themselves!

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Featured photo credit: Lechon Kirb via unsplash.com

Reference

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