Self-Evaluation And Getting Help: Using A Hypomania Test
Updated August 28, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Laura Angers
Self-evaluation is an important tool in anyone’s arsenal. Self-evaluation helps people keep their mental and physical health on the right track, and can be enormously useful in improving overall health and wellness through bringing awareness to the body and mind. Self-evaluation can be instrumental in identifying the presence of hypomania or its parent, Bipolar Disorder.
Bipolar Disorder: Symptoms And Treatment
Bipolar Disorder is a disorder characterized by periods of mania and depression. Once termed “Manic Depressive Disorder,” Bipolar Disorder (BP) is broken up into three different types: Bipolar Disorder I, Bipolar Disorder II, and Cyclothymic Disorder. The symptoms for each of these subsets are the same, but the severity and duration differ, leading to different diagnoses and potentially different treatment avenues. The basic Bipolar Disorder symptoms relating to each disorder include:
- Alternating or coexisting episodes of mania and depression.
- Periods of intense highs, including hyper-productivity and happy feelings.
- Periods of depression, including restlessness, hopelessness, and feelings of emptiness.
- Sleep disturbances, including the inability to sleep or difficulty staying awake.
- Appetite changes, such as feeling little to no appetite or eating to cope.
- Speech pattern changes, such as speaking more quickly or more slowly than usual.
- Changes to sense of self, such as feelings of grandiosity, or feelings of worthlessness.
Although all of these are present within a BP disorder diagnosis, there are varying levels of severity. Bipolar Disorder I have the greatest degree of severity, and episodes of mania and depression are usually intense and can last for weeks. Manic episodes could lead to hospitalization and depressive episodes to ideation.
Bipolar Disorder II is the second most severe iteration of Bipolar Disorder, with manic episodes that do not require hospitalization but have the potential to cause significant changes to an individual’s sleeping, eating, and communication patterns. Cyclothymic Disorder is the least severe of the Bipolar Disorder trio, with periods of mania and depression, but without significant or severe impairments to daily living.
What Is Hypomania?
Hypomania is a state of being that is elevated above baseline behavior, but not severe enough to qualify as “mania.” For example, someone who is experiencing mania might not feel tired for days at a time, might struggle to maintain a speech pattern that effectively and accurately communicates to others, and might not feel hunger for days at a time. Hypomania, conversely, might allow people experiencing a bout of it to stay up late at night without feeling tired, skip meals without seeming to notice, or leap from topic to topic in conversation without needing time to readjust to a new train of thought or line of inquiry. Hypomania, then, is not severe enough to function as a component of Bipolar Disorder symptoms for BP I but could fall under the symptomatic umbrella of BP-II or Cyclothymic Disorder.
The most common symptoms of Hypomania include (but are not limited to):
- Changes to sleep patterns. A period of hypomania might allow individuals to continually get by on 3-4 hours of sleep, with seemingly little to no ill effects. Individuals might not notice a decline in reasoning skills, alertness, or mood, and feel just as content with a few hours of sleep as they might with a full 8-9 hours of sleep.
- Differences in eating habits. People experiencing hypomania might notice a slight decrease in overall appetite and interest in eating. This can be small, as is the case when skipping breakfast is done easily and without consequence, or a bit more significant, as is the case when an entire day goes by without having eaten, and the desire to eat does not arise.
- Days of increased excitement, happiness, or productivity. This is perhaps the most commonly unnoticed symptom of hypomania, as it can be chalked up to just having a “good day,” or could be blamed on a quick surge of passion or motivation. In someone who is not prone to mood changes, this could certainly be the case. Still, days-long periods of increased productivity, followed by a marked dip in productivity, could signal the onset of hypomania.
- Increased self-esteem or feelings of confidence.
These symptoms mirror the symptoms present in BP I and II but lack the depth and intensity of I and II’s symptom set. Hypomania is also interesting because, unlike mania, it does not necessarily have to be accompanied by a Bipolar Disorder diagnosis; instead, individuals may experience hypomania on its own, separate from a mood or personality disorder.
Using A Hypomania Test
Hypomania tests can be useful to take, as they can help you determine whether or not your Bipolar Disorder symptoms are linked to hypomania, or are due to something else, such as a spike in motivation or a boost in overall mental health. Hypomania tests are easily found online, and typically involve a smaller series of questions regarding how you are feeling right now, how you feel regularly, and any mood changes or disturbances you might encounter. Some hypomania tests require that you write down a point system and tally up your totals, while others are simple point-and-click tests that tally results for you.
When using a hypomania test, it is important to recognize that these tests are intended to provide general diagnostic criteria, and do not take your personal history into account, including a family history of mental illness, your mental health, or trauma you may have experienced in the past, or other illnesses, medications, or disorders that could be causing your symptoms. Hypomania tests can be useful, but are not literal diagnostic tests; instead, they are self-evaluation tools designed to help you determine if further investigation or intervention is needed.
Taking The Next Step
If you have evaluated your behavior, and it does seem as though the symptoms of hypomania can be applied to you and your emotional or mental experiences, it is important to take the next step. In most cases, that means seeking help from a mental health professional. The exact avenue through which you do this may vary; insurance can play an important role, as some insurance companies require a referral to see a mental health professional. Others allow people to seek out therapy as a first step. Whether you have to set up an initial evaluation with a primary care provider first, or you can go directly to a therapy office, being evaluated for bipolar disorder and hypomania is a vital next step after identifying the presence or onset of symptoms of these conditions.
Therapy for bipolar disorder differs from case to case, though talk therapy is typically one aspect of treatment. This form of treatment may be conducted in a health professional’s office, through a hospital program, or may even be done online, through remote therapy companies such as BetterHelp, which allow clients to seek mental health help without having to leave their homes.
Hypomania, Bipolar Disorder Symptoms, And Where They Intersect
Hypomania is not always an indication that Bipolar Disorder is present. As briefly discussed above, hypomania can be experienced entirely separate from Bipolar Disorder. Even then, though, people who experience periods of hypomania may want to seek help from a mental health professional; any period of intense mood changes or uncontrolled spikes or dips in appetite, sleeping patterns, behavior, speech, and thought patterns could be cause for concern, as they can cause significant disruptions to an individual’s life.
Although hypomania tests are not definitive diagnosing tools, they can be helpful for people who are experiencing some of the symptoms associated with Bipolar Disorders, as they can help identify patterns that suggest something significant is at play, or offer some peace of mind that hypomania is unlikely the source of unusually high motivation or confidence. The most important thing to keep in mind in the midst of using hypomania tests is that Bipolar Disorders are very real, and can cause significant harm to individuals exhibiting symptoms. Because BP is characterized by periods of intense highs and lows, individuals with the disorder might find themselves making risky decisions (financially, physically, or emotionally), or withdrawing from their lives entirely. Starting on the road to recovery is pivotal.
If you’ve taken a hypomania test online, and have received a score suggesting that some amount of hypomania or mania are present, reach out to a qualified mental health professional for the next steps and more information. Although the symptoms of BP can cause significant distress, there are treatment options available to help curb symptoms and improve the quality of life. Bipolar Disorder treatment often uses a broad approach, implementing a host of interventions, including psychotherapy, medication, and lifestyle changes, to provide individuals with BP the greatest change at overcoming obstacles and learning to live with the highs and lows characteristic of Bipolar Disorders.
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