Mania (A complete guide)

 Manic behavior, often considered to be a phase of bipolar disorder, is characterized by a time period of abnormally elevated, irritable, and labile mood. 

In this blog piece, we will discuss what manic behavior is, how it relates to bipolar disorder, symptoms, causes of manic behavior, diagnosis, and treatment.

What is Manic Behavior?

Manic behavior, or even manic episode, as some people refer to it, is when an individual has an abnormally elevated, irritable, and labile mood.

Though manic behavior may simply sound as a “good mood,” it is, however, a very exaggerated and expansive state of being.

This behavior typically lasts for at least one week, and is present most of the day and even sometimes nearly every day.

Not only does the individual feel elated during this time period, they also experience a sense of grandiosity and inflated self-esteem.

Furthermore, they have constant flights of ideas, to the point that they are often distractible.

They also find that during these episodes they do not need sleep and are extremely goal oriented. A manic episode of this type may be interspersed within periods of depression. 

Bipolar disorder is a disorder associated with episodes of mood swings. In certain types of bipolar, bipolar II specifically, an individual fluctuates between episodes of depression and episodes of elation.

In other types of bipolar, bipolar I specifically, an individual only experiences episodes of significant elation.

These episodes of significant elation, per se, can be considered manic behavior. Manic behavior is therefore a part of bipolar disorder. 

What are the symptoms of manic behavior? 

Manic behavior is characterized by moods which are abnormally elevated, irritable, and labile.

The symptoms of manic behavior can also be physical, rather than just emotional. 

Common symptoms of manic behavior include:

·      Elevated, irritable, and labile mood

·      Good mood accompanied by disinhibition (wearing eccentric clothing)

·      No social boundaries

·      Increased energy/activity

·      Impulsivity

·      Poor judgement

·      Exaggerated self-confidence

·      Decreased need for sleep or food

·      Racing thoughts

·      Distractibility

·      Pressured and accelerated speech

Many of these symptoms require clarification since individuals may confuse manic tendencies with happiness and productivity. 

Elevated, irritable, and labile mood: this is a core symptoms of mania.

The mood is a “good mood” to the point that these individuals can be disinhibited.

They may undress in public, engage in flirtatious activity, and treat strangers as best friends.

They are in a state of mind where nothing but their happiness matters.

Increased energy and activity are other core symptoms of mania. The individual may become extremely goal oriented during these episodes.

They will also immediately start on the goal, usually not needed any sleep or food.

This is extremely different from being productive.

These individuals have so much energy that they will often start on new business ventures, sexual activities, etc.

Again, these actions are often disinhibited and are not actions someone who is simply productive would engage in.

The goals are also often unachievable in that time span. Some individuals will think they have the cure to cancer or cure to world hunger, etc. 

Along with having elevated mood and increased energy, these individuals also experience a newly found self-confidence.

They are confident in the fact that they can carry our all of their goals and view themselves in a very grandiose manner 

Cognitively speaking, the individual will often experience a flight of ideas and often racing ideas.

They will consistently get an influx of ideas of what to do next, what to create next, and new goals to focus on.

As for anyone, such an influx can be overwhelming and so these individuals are often very distractible.

They constantly shift from one idea to the other.

What causes Manic Behavior? 

Manic Behavior is a significant symptom of Bipolar Disorder I. A significant cause of bipolar disorder is genetics.

An individual is more likely to have bipolar disorder, and therefore manic behavior, if one or more of their family members has bipolar disorder.

Because of one’s genetics, they may be predisposed to developing bipolar disorder.

If they encounter an event such as trauma or something stressful, this may tip them over the edge to develop bipolar, and therefore mania.

Traumatic and stressful events do not cause bipolar. They certainly do allow for bipolar to surface in already predisposed individuals. 

How do you diagnose Manic Behavior? 

A healthcare professional can give a formal diagnosis of manic behavior, and can clarify how the diagnosis fits into a larger bipolar disorder diagnosis.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of manic behavior, speak to your healthcare professional.

They will offer you all of the relevant information, or can refer you to someone who can.

Receiving a formal diagnosis can assist in seeking out the proper treatment and allowing you to control and monitor your symptoms. 

The diagnostic criteria for a manic episode is:

A.   A period of abnormally elevated or irritable mood and abnormally increased energy

·      These symptoms last at least one week and present most of the day, nearly every day

B.   During the episode, along with the mood disturbance and increased activity, three or more of the following symptoms are present

·      Inflated self-esteem

·      Decreased need for sleep

·      More talkative or pressured speech

·      Flight of ideas

·      Distractibility

·      Increased in goal-directed activity

·      Excessive involvement in activities with high potential for painful consequences (such as foolish business investments, sexual acts, etc.)

C.   Mood disturbance is severe enough to cause impairment in social life, career

D.   Symptoms are not related to another condition or substance use (such as drug abuse, medication, or other treatment

Again, a healthcare professional can take a full list of your symptoms and medical history and see if your symptoms match the diagnostic criteria for a manic episode. 

What is the treatment for Manic Behavior? 

Since manic behavior is often a component of Bipolar Disorder, the treatment for manic behavior is that for bipolar disorder.

The best way to seek out treatment is to speak with your healthcare professional.

They will be able to assess your symptoms and suggest a treatment plan that will be most beneficial to you. 

Bipolar disorder is not curable, meaning an individual will continue to have it for the rest of their lives. It is a chronic condition.

The symptoms of bipolar disorder, however, such as manic behavior and episodes can certainly be managed with the proper medication or therapy. 

Treatment options for Bipolar Disorder, and therefore Manic Behavior are:           

·      Medication

·      Psychotherapy

·      Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) 

Certain medications are used specifically for mania in bipolar disorder. This group of medications are referred to as antipsychotics.

There are a variety of antipsychotics and a healthcare professional can go over which might best for an individual with mania.

The medication is able to adjust the neurotransmitters in the brain to help control the fluctuations in mood. 

Psychotherapy is often used in combination with medication.

It allows for the individual to identify their triggers for a manic episode, know when their manic episode is about to begin, and plan for what they should do if they feel they are entering one. 

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is reserved for patients in whom medications and psychotherapy does not work.

ECT is an invasive procedure in which the brain is electrically stimulated while the patient is anesthesia.

Again, it is an invasive procedure that is reserved for people who are refractory to other treatment options. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Manic Behavior?

What is Manic Behavior?

Manic behavior is the behavior exhibited during a manic episode.

A manic episode is characterized by elated, irritable, and labile mood.

During this episode individuals are often disinhibited, have a flight of ideas, pressured speech. 

2.    Is Manic Behavior the same as being in a good mood?

Manic Behavior is not the same as being in a good mood.

Those exhibiting manic behavior exhibit more than just the emotion of happiness. They feel elated and irritable.

Though they do not recognize it in the moment, they are overwhelmed by the flight of ideas.

They feel as though they are invincible.

Those that are simply in a good mood are still able to control their emotions, feelings, and behavior.

Is Manic Behavior a diagnosis all by itself?

Manic behavior is not necessarily a diagnosis all by itself.

It is actually a common symptom of a broader disorder and diagnosis, Bipolar Disorder.

Manic Behavior is specifically the core component of Bipolar Disorder I.

An individual can have Bipolar Disorder I, characterized by manic behavior or Bipolar Disorder II, characterized by alternating hypomanic and depressive behavior. 

4.    Is Manic Behavior dangerous?

Manic behavior can definitely become dangerous.

During a manic episode, individuals are often disinhibited so will often carry out activities that they usually would not.

If the individual is a threat to themselves or another individual during an episode, hospitalization is required. 

5.    Can Manic Behavior be cured? 

Manic Behavior is definitely treatable, but it is not curable.

As we know, manic behavior and manic episodes are components of Bipolar Disorder.

Bipolar Disorder is not necessarily curable. An individual will have it for their entire life since it is a chronic condition.

That being said, the symptoms of Bipolar Disorder, including manic episodes and behavior are definitely manageable with proper medication and therapy. 

6.    When does Manic Behavior usually begin?

An individual will usually exhibit a manic episode which will ultimately lead to the diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder.

Symptoms of bipolar, so manic episodes, typically emerge in early adulthood.

That is not to say however that they cannot develop in childhood or teenage years. 

7.    Am I alone? Or do other people have manic behavior also? 

You are definitely not alone.

The prevalence of Bipolar Disorder I, which is the type of Bipolar characterized by manic behavior, is approximately 1% in the general population.

Many communities and support groups exist for people living with this condition.

Many find it to be extremely helpful and therapeutic to establish connections with other individuals dealing with the same things they are.

8.    Is mania the same as hypomania?

Mania is not the same as hypomania.

Mania is a characteristic of Bipolar Disorder I. Hypomania, however, is a characteristic of Bipolar II.

Also, the characteristics of mania itself are different from hypomania.

Hypomania can be considered a milder form of mania.

It lasts for a shorter period of time than does manic behavior, and also does not have as marked impairment in social or occupational functioning as does manic behavior. 

Want to learn more about Manic Behavior? Check out these books! 

He Wanted the Moon: The Madness and Medical Genius of Dr. Perry Baird, and His Daughter’s Quest to Know Him

A beautiful story about a daughter trying to piece together her father’s life and journey with bipolar disorder and manic behavior. 

Electroboy: A Memoir of Mania

A story about Andy Behrman, the author living with his raging mania and his journey with misdiagnosis, multiple careers, and everyday life. 

Have more questions about manic behavior? Post below!


Bipolar Disorder in Adults: Clinical Features UpToDate 2020

Bipolar Disorder WebMD 2020

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