Symptoms of Mania in Bipolar Disorder

Diagnosis made on 6 broadly defined classifications

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Mania and hypomania are phases of bipolar disorder characterized by elevated "highs" in stark contrast to the depressive "lows" that are part of the emotional cycle.

Mania is a type I bipolar disorder that is essentially the "yin" to depression’s "yang." By contrast, hypomania is a type II bipolar disorder which some describe as "mania-light," which neither has the range or severity of symptoms that classic mania has.

If left untreated, bipolar mania can spin out the control and affect a person’s ability to function on a daily basis. Identifying these symptoms, therefore, is the first step to treating them.

Warning Signs of Bipolar Mania

The appearance of one or two symptoms of mania doesn't necessarily mean that a person is bipolar. Insofar as mania is a phase rather than a condition, the symptoms could very well be attributed to any number of causes from emotional trauma and panic attacks to anxiety disorders and drug abuse.

A diagnosis of mania is typically based on six broadly defined classifications of symptom:

  • mood changes
  • sudden changes in energy and activity
  • speech disruptions
  • impaired judgment
  • changes in thought patterns
  • the development of psychosis

Mood Changes as a Symptom of Bipolar Mania

Mood changes are typified by a sudden burst of activity, often described as being euphoric or larger than life. It is more long-lasting than transient and is atypical to a person’s natural state.

Symptoms can include:

  • abnormally elevated or expansive mood
  • extreme excitability
  • grandiosity and imperiousness
  • sudden shifts to extreme irritability, hostility, or even anger

Changes in Energy as a Symptom of Bipolar Mania

It’s one thing to have a sudden rush of energy. It is another when that energy is relentless, prolonged, and overwhelming.

As with mood changes, the sudden upshot in activity is not considered normal and may turn on just as suddenly as it turns off.

These symptoms include:

  • a decreased need for sleep with little fatigue
  • a sudden increase in goal-directed activities
  • restlessness and an inability to remain still
  • persistent, often purposeless movement

Speech Disruptions as a Symptom of Bipolar Mania

Speech disruptions are probably the easiest thing to notice in a manic episode. A person may be described as having a "motor mouth" who is difficult or even impossible to interrupt.

Speech disruptions can be described as:

  • rapid, pressured speech (fast talking where you can't get enough words it)
  • incoherent speech (where the mouth can't keep up with the mind and ends up scattered and nonsensical)
  • clang associations (a serious condition associated with schizophrenia in which words that sound similar are grouped together even if they don’t make sense)

Impaired Judgment as a Symptom of Bipolar Mania

Impaired judgment is sometimes missed by casual observers who either dismiss as a momentary lapse. At other times, it is typified by a reckless abandon that can put the person and others directly in harm’s way.

Example include:

  • inappropriate humor and brash behavior
  • extreme impulsiveness (including risk-taking and gambling)
  • a lack of insight into the consequences of an action or behavior
  • financial extravagance
  • hypersexuality and sexually provocative behavior

Changes in Thought Patterns as a Symptom of Bipolar Mania

Changes in thought patterns are easily spotted by those with whom the person has regular interactions. They may appear as a sudden burst of creative insight or appear fractured and entirely nonsensical.

Example include:

  • increased focus on religion or religious activity
  • disorientation or disjointed thinking

Symptoms of Psychosis in Bipolar Mania

Psychosis, or a break from reality, is an extreme manifestation of bipolar mania that usually requires medical treatment and hospitalization. It is not a feature one would see in a hypomanic phase.

Conditions include:

If you find or loved one is experiencing manic symptoms that are impairing your ability to function, find a mental health professional in your area who can either confirm or rule out bipolar disorder. Speak with your doctor for referrals or contact the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) hotline at 800-950-NAMI available Monday to Friday from 10 am to 6 pm Eastern Time.


National Institute of Mental Health: U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. "Bipolar Disorder." Bethesda, Maryland; April 2016.