The Opposite Of Depression: Mania Symptoms, Treatment, And More

Medically reviewed by Andrea Brant, LMHC
Updated May 14, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Content warning: Please be advised, the below article might mention substance use-related topics that could be triggering to the reader. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance use, contact SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). Support is available 24/7. Please see our Get Help Now page for more immediate resources.

Mania is a temporary mental state that’s typically associated with bipolar disorder and is technically the opposite experience of depression. If you feel that you, a friend, child(ren), or other loved one has been experiencing manic episodes, it’s usually recommended to meet with a mental health professional for evaluation. With the proper treatment, frequency and severity of these episodes can decrease and recovery to a healthier mental space is possible. Read on to learn more about recognizing the signs of a manic episode and what actions to consider taking next. 

Are you struggling with the symptoms of mania?

What’s the difference between mania and depression?

While some may think that a person is in a manic state any time they’re behaving with unusually high energy, true mania is technically defined by a set of specific symptoms experienced over a particular duration. For someone’s behavior to qualify as a clinical manic episode, they must experience certain signs most of the time over the course of one week. The exception is if symptoms lead to hospitalization; in this case, they don’t need to last more than a week to be considered a manic episode.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), a manic episode consists of “abnormally and persistently elevated, expansive, or irritable mood and abnormally and persistently goal-directed behavior or energy” 

For this type of behavior to be classified as mania, an individual must persistently experience at least three of the symptoms below, marking a change from their usual behavior. Suppose they’re only experiencing the “irritable mood” portion of the above description. In that case, they must also experience at least four of the following symptoms for it to be classified as a manic episode:

  • An inflated sense of self-esteem
  • A decreased need for sleep; feeling well-rested after just a few hours
  • Talking more or feeling the need to talk more
  • Racing thoughts; distress
  • Being more easily distracted
  • An increase in goal-oriented activities such as shopping, engaging in sexual acts, starting a business, etc., or an increase in repetitive movements
  • Increased and excessive involvement in risky and potentially harmful activities 

To meet the official classification criteria for mania, the above symptoms must be severe enough that they also cause one of the following:

  • Difficulty functioning at school, work, or in social situations
  • Hospitalization to prevent harm to the manic individual or others
  • Psychosis

Finally, the symptoms typically do not qualify as clinical mania if they’re linked to substance use.

Mania vs. hypomania

Hypomania is a less severe form of mania. Symptoms of hypomania may last less than a week or be less severe than those that occur during a clinical manic episode. Hypomania generally does not severely impair a person’s life in terms of school, work, or relationships and does not warrant hospitalization.

Mania in bipolar disorder

Individuals with bipolar disorder may experience periods of both mania and depression. Mania is marked by an increase in energy, thoughts, and actions, while depression is characterized by low activity, hopelessness, a lack of interest, and dread. While all individuals with bipolar disorder will generally experience some depressive episodes, the occurrence and/or severity of manic or hypomanic episodes can vary among individuals. 

Who may experience mania?

Mania is most seen in those who have bipolar disorder—especially Bipolar I. They may experience phases of it in addition to depressive episodes. Treatment—which typically consists of some combination of psychotherapy and medication—can help decrease these symptoms and allow for healthy daily functioning. Otherwise, mania can be an effect of certain conditions or injuries such as a stroke, traumatic brain injury, dementia, encephalitis, or alcohol or drug abuse, for instance. 

Recognizing a manic episode

If you’ve been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, recognizing the onset of a manic episode and its nature may help you handle it more effectively. Certain signs can tip you off to the fact that one may be coming, though they can vary from person to person. For instance, you may notice that a manic episode starts with you needing to tap your fingers constantly or drive faster than usual. Or, you may recognize that you become manic after sleeping poorly for a few nights. You can take the necessary steps to manage mania by learning to identify these patterns.

One study investigated the impact of teaching individuals with bipolar disorder to recognize the signs of manic relapse. Findings suggest that it can make them more likely and better able to seek appropriate help, resulting in a more extended period before the next manic relapse occurs. The control group relapsed in an average of 17 weeks, while the group that received treatment relapsed in an average of 65 weeks. Teaching individuals to recognize signs of relapse also improved social functioning and the ability to remain employed.

Speaking with a mental health professional may help you recognize the patterns and signs that appear before you experience a manic or depressive episode. They may also be able to help develop a proper treatment plan for mania.

Are you struggling with the symptoms of mania?

Speaking with a therapist about managing mania and depression

The first step to managing mania is to connect with a mental health professional who can evaluate your symptoms and provide an accurate diagnosis. After this step, you can work with them to develop a plan to manage your symptoms. If bipolar disorder is the cause, medication plus psychotherapy is often the recommended treatment. Research suggests that combining therapy with medication may decrease symptom severity, relapses, and hospitalizations.

Various therapeutic approaches may be used to help treat the symptoms that may occur with mania. These include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychoeducation, and family-focused therapy. It’s important to note that therapy may not be an effective treatment method while experiencing a manic episode, but it can help individuals recognize and manage future episodes. 

Although therapy can be essential to managing mania, individuals with bipolar disorder sometimes have difficulty attending in-person appointments. Depression can make a person feel sad or without hope and it difficult to leave home, and mania can cause an individual to lose track of time and miss obligations. Andrew Solomon, a writer and activist, has a quote that details the idea of depression and its impact day to day life, he says, “The opposite of depression is not happiness, but vitality.” This means that managing depression may not bring happiness but it can help an individual to live a more fulfilling life. 

Online therapy is one option that may make it easier for those with bipolar disorder to get the care they need and deserve. While research suggests that virtual therapy can be as effective as in-person sessions for treating a variety of conditions, it’s important to be honest with your provider about your symptoms to ensure that this option will be right for your specific situation. That said, one study investigated the impact of online cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) on individuals living with bipolar disorder. Results showed that 75% of the participants who completed the treatment exhibited reduced symptoms. You can ask your mental health provider if online therapy might be right for you.


Mania is a mental and physiological state typically characterized by increased energy, irritable mood, and goal-oriented behavior, among other symptoms. Individuals living with bipolar disorder may experience manic states alternating with depressive states. Mania can be a symptom of a serious mental illness, but acceptance and treatment can help an individual better manage it.
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