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