What Is Hypomania?

The psychological disorder previously known as manic depression is now more accurately called bipolar disorder. Individuals who suffer from this condition swing between emotional extremes, or poles, of severe depression and mania. Between these extremes is a midway point referred to as hypomania. The word literally means “below” mania and it refers to an emotional state that is a transitional point before or after a person reaches full mania.

Symptoms of Hypomania

The symptoms of hypomania may be hard to recognize. Unlike depression (emotional numbness, persistent sadness, noted changes to eating and sleeping patterns and suicidal thoughts or actions) or mania (emotional outbursts, physical or emotional abuse of others, little need for sleep, making unwise decisions and engaging in risky behavior,), hypomania is often a very pleasant emotional experience. Some symptoms of hypomania are as follows:

  • A general feeling of optimism for the future
  • Persistent good mood regardless of circumstances
  • A sense of personal contentedness
  • A lack of any concern about mental health
  • A period of increased creativity
  • Little need for sleep
  • Increased sexual stimulation and desire
  • Increased assertiveness (that may border on aggression)

Many bipolar individuals who experience times of hypomania say that they wish they could stay in that emotional place permanently. While there is an increased risk of risky behavior associated with hypomania, the individual doesn’t feel any anxiety at all. This experience is often very short-lived.

People struggling with bipolar disorder tend to spend most of their time depressed, a significantly less amount of time manic and a tiny percentage of their time in a hypomanic state. For some this mood only lasts a few hours. At most it usually lasts a couple of days.

Treatment Options for Bipolar Disorder

While there is currently no known cure for bipolar disorder, millions of people with the disease have learned how to effectively manage its symptoms. The following techniques are often extremely effective in the management of bipolar symptoms:

  • Individual counseling
  • Learning to identify the symptoms of a mood change
  • Medical treatment when appropriate
  • Support group gatherings
  • Specialized counseling such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy that helps people control their emotions
  • Coping and relaxation skill development
  • Introduction to meditation and other new-age calming techniques
  • Treatment of co-occurring addiction issues

In many cases bipolar treatment is best accomplished in the controlled and protected environment of inpatient programs. These facilities offer relaxing environments that are removed from addiction and mood-changing triggers. Patients are allowed to focus all of their attention on healing instead of worrying about work, bills and chores.

Finding Help for Bipolar Disorder and Hypomania

One of the main challenges in treating bipolar disorder is that each phase of the disorder makes it difficult for an affected individual to seek help in different ways. During times of major depression people tend to feel that healing is impossible and not even worth trying. During times of mania those same people will feel irritable and even aggressive toward anyone that they perceive is trying to control them. People in a hypomanic state tend to feel fine and be in complete denial that anything is wrong.