Mania describes a medical condition characterised by severely elevated mood. Mania is most usually associated with bipolar disorder, where episodes of mania alternate with episodes of depression. (Note: not all mania is bipolar disorder, other diseases can cause mania - however bipolar disorder is the 'classic' manic disease).
Hypomania refers to a less severe variant of mania, where there is less loss of control.
Although 'severely elevated mood' sounds pleasant, the actual experience of mania is usually unpleasant and sometimes frightening for the person involved, and may lead to behavior that they may regret later. It can also often be complicated by the sufferer's lack of insight into their condition leading to manic patients being some of the most belligerent patients to arrive in emergency rooms.
Other manic symptoms include irritability, reduced need of sleep, hypersexuality, religiosity, hyperactivity, talkativeness, flight-of-ideas, and grandiose plans. In manic and less severe, hypomanic cases, the afflicted person may engage in out of character behaviour such as questionable business transactions, wasteful expenditures of money, risky liaisons or highly vocal arguments they had not been known for previously, potentially creating great stress in existing personal relationships.
Mania can be experienced at the same time as depression, in a mixed state. Dysphoric mania is primarily manic and a depressive mixed state is primarily depressed. This has caused speculation amongst doctors that mania and depression are two independent axes in a bipolar spectrum, rather than opposites.
Before beginning treatment for mania, careful differential diagnosis must be performed to rule out non-psychiatric causes.
Acute mania in bipolar disorder is typically treated with mood stabilizers and/or antipsychotic medication. Note that these treatments need to be prescribed and monitored carefully to avoid harmful side-effects such as neuroleptic malignant syndrome. Sometimes when beyond hypomanic it may be necessary to temporarily hold the patient involuntarily due to their lack of insight until the mania phase passes either as part of the bipolar cycle or through medication.
When the symptoms of mania have gone, long-term treatment then focuses on prophylactic treatment to try to stabilize the patient's mood, typically through a combination of medication and talk therapies.
Lithium is a well-known prescription medicine which stabilizes the patients manic and depressive episodes.
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