Picture this for a moment. You begin the day in a distinctly irritable mood. Nothing goes as planned, yet you have an inflated self-esteem. You feel less sleepy and talk more than usual. Distractions come easily, there is excessive involvement in pleasurable activities and you have a flight of ideas.
This is common for someone experiencing Mania. Characteristic of, but not exclusive to Type 1 bipolar, it causes disturbances in thought patterns. Taking big risks with money, sex and safety becomes the norm. Mania makes people jump out of bed in the middle of the night, brimming with energy, ready to take on the day. People tend to skip medication because they like the “high” that is associated with mania. What they forget is that the inevitable post manic episode is immediately one of crippling depression, which is difficult to deal with. Drugs and alcohol make symptoms worse.
Hypomania, on the other hand is a characteristic of type 2 bipolar disorder. It differs from mania by virtue of the absence of psychotic symptoms and exaggerated grandiosity. It also has a lesser effect on everyday functioning.
Experiencing any of the above episodes, is a harrowing experience. Thoughts race through the mind, and one tends to act dangerously.
Mania is more severe, while hypomania can be sometimes mistaken for an unusual mood-swing. Some people even go as far as to say hypomania is enjoyable, fun, happy and a good break from constant depression. Others can get very irritable and frustrated during hypomanic phases. Feeling disassociated and disconnected with respect to their surroundings, feeling as though they cannot control their thoughts.
Bipolar Disorder is not easy to live with. The alternating phases of mania and depression can make someone feel extremely frustrated and fed up with one’s existence. Medication works, but it takes time, since various combinations of drugs are tried. There is no one standard formula for treatment. It is common for people to get irritated, feeling that the medication isn’t working. They consequently lose faith in the doctor.
While dealing with mania and hypomania requires medication and patience, there are a few things one can do to prevent too many episodes.
• Maintain a good sleep pattern.
• Do not spend too much time in front of a screen.
• Avoid too much coffee.
• Try and maintain an exercise regime.
• Don’t binge on sugar.
In addition, it is always advised to seek professional medical help, when battling bipolar disorder. Mania and hypomania are conditions that require medical attention, and it is prudent to get the required attention as soon as possible. If a loved one is experiencing symptoms of bipolar disorder, accompanied with what you think could be mania or hypomanic episodes, it would be helpful to try and talk to the person, in order to gauge what they’re feeling. Educating yourself is important, so you and your loved one can both seek support and effective treatment.
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