How can I tell if a person with bipolar disorder is having a manic episode?

During a manic episode, patients with bipolar disorder may be "over the top", and engage in impulsive and potentially harmful behaviors. With increased energy levels and little need for sleep, friends or family members with the disorder may become incoherent, take risks they otherwise would not, and attempt to accomplish seemingly impossible tasks. In some cases, this phase requires hospitalization to insure the safety of patients. Recognize the warning signs of mania. Some of these include: increased energy with little need for sleep, different speech patterns (incoherent speech), impaired judgment, often including inappropriate humor and behaviors, or else impulsive behaviors and financial extravagance and grandiose thinking. If you see signs of mania occurring in a family member or friend with the disorder, contact their healthcare provider, or if the person is in danger, seek treatment from a hospital emergency room.
Symptoms of mania include:
  • Increased energy, activity, and restlessness
  • Excessively "high," overly good, euphoric mood
  • Extreme irritability
  • Racing thoughts and talking very fast, jumping from one idea to another
  • Distractibility, can't concentrate well
  • Little sleep needed
  • Unrealistic beliefs in one's abilities and powers
  • Poor judgment
  • Spending sprees
  • A lasting period of behavior that is different from usual
  • Increased sexual drive
  • Abuse of drugs, particularly cocaine, alcohol, and sleeping medications
  • Provocative, intrusive, or aggressive behavior
  • Denial that anything is wrong
A manic episode is diagnosed if elevated mood occurs with three or more of the other symptoms most of the day, nearly every day, for 1 week or longer. If the mood is irritable, four additional symptoms must be present.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.