How Do You Define Mania, And What Are The Symptoms?

Updated May 2, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Mania can be a common symptom of certain mental health disorders, but it’s often misunderstood, even by those who experience it. The best tool against mania and the consequences it may bring is often education; when you know what signs to look out for, your chances of seeking the care you may need tend to go up. While it may seem to feel good for those who experience it, mania can lead to serious, potentially dangerous outcomes, especially if a person remains untreated. That’s why it can be so helpful to familiarize yourself with common symptoms related to mania; doing so may mean the difference between getting the proper support and experiencing worsening symptoms over time.

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Do You Believe You May Be Experiencing Signs Of Mania?

What Is Mania?

Mania typically involves an elevated mood and a spike in energy levels; typically, mania occurs when someone experiences these symptoms for at least a week at a time. It is often considered to be the other side of the spectrum of depression in terms of bipolar disorder. It can be important to understand that it is considered mania only if these happy feelings and other symptoms are far different from what anyone might feel in happy moments (for example, if the feelings are interfering with your daily life). In general, the only way to know for sure if you are experiencing mania or something more serious is by seeking medical advice diagnosis or treatment.

What Are The Symptoms?

What mania looks like can vary from person to person and even episode to episode, so it can be important to keep in mind that not all symptoms must be present for a person to be in need of support. With that said, below are some common mania symptoms to keep in mind:

  • Not Being Able To Sleep: When someone is experiencing mania, they usually don’t sleep very much. They may stay up for days at a time or feel like they need very little sleep.
  • Extreme Changes In Mood: Feeling elated, euphoric, and even surreal can be common parts of mania. This sort of mood switch may lead a person to make drastic changes to their appearance, personality, and more. 
  • Obsessive Behaviors: Some may start to pick up obsessive behaviors, like cleaning all the time or focusing on tiny details and not being able to move on from them. This category can also include things like racing thoughts or excessive talking.
  • Ignoring Hygiene: A person experiencing mania may invest very little time in mundane, simple tasks, like brushing their teeth, changing clothes, or eating. This is not always the case, but it is possible.
  • Doing Risky Things:  Because mania can make a person feel like they’re on top of the world, they may be more likely to engage in dangerous or impulsive behaviors. They may, for instance, tend to pick fights when they go out or speed excessively when they drive. Bad spending habits, risky sexual encounters, and other examples of extreme changes in a person’s behavior may point to mania. 

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What Causes Mania?

There are a few possible causes for mania, though experts often believe that a combination of multiple factors and personal triggers, which can be unique to each individual, may be responsible. Below are a few risk factors that may increase a person’s likelihood of experiencing mania:

  • Bipolar disorder. One of the most common causes of mania is bipolar disorder, which can cause extreme mood swings between highs and lows.
  • Family history. Someone else in a family may have mania, which can up your chances of experiencing it.
  • Neurological problems. Certain physical, neurological issues in the brain, which may stem from injury or other mental and physical health conditions, might increase a person’s chance of experiencing mania.
  • Toxins in the body. Toxins or drugs that are already in the body may contribute to manic symptoms. Likewise, failing to take prescription medications as instructed can exacerbate the risk of mania.

Mania And Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder, which is perhaps the most likely cause of mania, can be characterized by extreme mood swings that range between intense highs (mania) and lows (depression). Those with bipolar disorder may experience symptoms like those mentioned above in addition to depressive symptoms or hypomanic symptoms. There are a few different types of this disorder to be aware of.

Bipolar I Disorder

If someone has bipolar I disorder (“bipolar I”), it likely means that they have had a mix of mania and depression for at least two weeks. Mania tends to be more prevalent than depression for this type and may become severe enough to lead to hospitalization. 

Bipolar II Disorder

In this type of bipolar disorder, depressive episodes tend to be more prevalent than mania. They may be longer-lasting or more intense than those experienced by people with other types of bipolar disorder.

Cyclothymic Disorder

This disorder occurs when a person has mild symptoms of bipolar disorder that last over two years. The symptoms may be less severe than types I and II, and a person may be more likely to experience hypomania rather than mania. As the name may imply, hypomania is generally intense than traditional mania, or at least tends to cause less severe symptoms.


Regardless of where your mania stems from, it can be possible to find relief from your symptoms by pursuing the right treatment options. A combination of medication and therapy is likely the best way to take control of your mania and learn how to manage it in the long run.

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Do You Believe You May Be Experiencing Signs Of Mania?

As you begin to seek treatment for mania, it can be helpful to have a place to turn to for support, advice, and guidance. In addition to speaking to a medical professional like a doctor or psychiatrist, you may also want to start by reaching out to a therapist.  

Whether you’re new to therapy or not, online counseling can make seeking professional help much easier and far more accessible. Because you can join sessions from home, work, your car, or wherever else you can find an internet connection, you can fit online therapy into your schedule with minimal stress. Plus, you may be able to save yourself time and money by avoiding making commutes to an in-person office. 

Even for more severe symptoms like mania, research suggests that web-based treatment option can be just as effective as in-person therapy. One recent study analyzing the impacts of both smartphone-based and online counseling services for people with bipolar disorder found the treatment options could successfully help patients manage their symptoms. If your mania stems from another cause, it’s still likely you can benefit from online therapy and the resources it can provide you.


Certain prescriptions may help you manage the symptoms of mania. However, results tend to be different for every person with every drug. It may take some trial and error to locate a medication that truly helps you feel better, so be patient and be honest with your doctor or therapist.

You may have to take a physical test and a written test to determine how to specialize in your treatment. This is normal, and it can be a positive step to get your mania under control. Research suggests that the combination of cognitive-behavioral therapy (or family therapy) and medication may improve treatment outcomes.

Other Things You Can Do

There are some things you can do on your own to potentially limit mania symptoms or benefit your overall mental health.

  • Start writing in a journal. Your doctor may suggest that you start writing your moods and thoughts in a journal. This may be a good way to notice when changes occur and can help you figure out possible triggers.
  • Avoid triggers. Once you know what triggers you, do your best to avoid these situations. This can be anything from alcohol to certain social situations, such as being in a casino.
  • Get a support system. Having friends and family at your side can make managing challenges much easier.
  • Start eating well. Nourishing your body can help you feel equipped to maintain your routine and do what you may need to do to keep yourself on track.
  • Sleep at night. Sleep the right amount at night and at the proper times. Since mania can cause people to lose sleep, you may have to put yourself on a sleeping schedule to get the rest you require. Some people may even find that changes in sleep can act as a trigger for manic episodes.

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Mania can be described as a state of extreme emotional highs that can make a person feel invincible, euphoric, or even surreal. Its symptoms often relate to an increased mood and energy levels as well as risky behaviors. No matter where it stems from, learning to identify mania and know when it’s time to seek help can be an important part of leading a safe, healthy life.

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