Mental Health Conditions

What are manic episodes?

Mania is characterised by a period of abnormal, persistent, elevated, expansive or irritable mood. It can occur as a symptom of bipolar disorder (manic depression).

Symptoms of mania

• Excessively elated mood - feeling that everything is wonderful even when it is not. Mood typically described as euphoric, unusually good, cheerful, high. The individual’s mood is expansive, reflecting an enthusiasm for interactions (eg spontaneously starting lengthy conversations with strangers in public places).

• Irritable if plans are thwarted (may alternate between euphoria and irritability)

• Inflated self esteem - unrealistic ideas of self, uncritical self confidence

• Full of ideas (e.g. giving advice on matters without special knowledge or despite lacking experience or talent, e.g. may try to compose a symphony, believing they will be successful)

• Grandiose delusions are common

• Increased libido, with unwise or reckless sexual encounters possible

• Distractability

• Racing thoughts, "flight of ideas", e.g. switching topics of conversation

• Increased goal-directed activity - undertaking risky activities (e.g. reckless business investments, spending lots of money, building up debts)

• Decreased need for sleep - may wake several hours earlier than usual with lots of energy (in a severe disturbance, an individual may go for days without sleep and not feel tired)

• Talkative / constant pressure of speech and activity - manic speech; sounds loud, rapid, hard to interrupt; individuals may talk nonstop, sometimes for hours on end, without considering the other person/s. Speech sometimes characterised by joking, punning and amusing irrelevancies. Individual may become theatrical

• Psychomotor agitation - unintentional and purposeless activity, such as hand-wringing, pacing, repeatedly putting on and taking off an item of clothing


Treatment for mania

Medication - depending on the individual’s circumstances and need, anti-psychotic or mood stabilising medication may be prescribed

Talking treatments, e.g. counselling or psychotherapy - may help to identify the triggers for manic episodes and help identify and reduce stressors.

NOTE: Individuals may lack insight during an episode of mania, and there may be some difficulty persuading them of the need for treatment.

NB: In a small number of cases, mania may be a result of taking anti-depressants, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), light therapy or other medication. This settles down when reduced or discontinued. If symptoms are due to such causes, this is not considered a manic episode in the clinical sense.

If you or anyone you know may be affected, you can receive free mental health support via our Textcare and Support Forum services. Our helpline is also available on 0300 304 7000 6 pm – 11 pm.