The Difference Between Hypomania & Mania

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explaining postpartum depressionLast week Kimberly wrote about her experience with hypomania.  I heard from many of you who wanted more information about this, so I wanted to offer my understanding of the difference between hypomania and mania.  (Physician readers, I expect you to speak up if you have something to add or clarify!!)  If you experience these symptoms in the postpartum period, it may be that you have bipolar disorder that has presented in the postpartum period, and not postpartum depression.

You may have hypomania if you experience any combination of the following:

  • less need for sleep
  • feel more productive
  • feel a higher sense of well-being
  • feel euphoric, like you can do anything
  • feel very talkative (like you just can’t stop talking)
  • feel more irritable than usual
  • feel smarter, more sensual, more powerful and/or more creative
  • feel the need to participate in activities that may have negative consequences for you (sex, spending)

If you are suffering from mania, you may experience any combination of the following:

  • experience any of the above, but it begins to feel uncontrollable or becomes more severe
  • feel angry, confused and/or frightened
  • indulge in very reckless behaviors, for example serious overspending or reckless sexual activity
  • delusions or hallucinations

It is possible to start out experiencing hypomania and then cross into mania.

It’s pretty confusing to understand the difference between hypomania and mania because they are so very similar.  From what I understand, the major difference is in the severity of what you experience and how much it impacts your ability to function on a daily basis.  This is not something you should diagnose yourself.  Talk to a trained professional who can provide a proper diagnosis and discuss what path you should take forward.  Bipolar disorder is treatable, and just like any of the other illnesses we talk about at Postpartum Progress, it’s not your fault and you are not alone.  With help, you will be well.

Photo credit: © Argus – Fotolia.com

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About Katherine Stone

is the founder & editor of Postpartum Progress. She was named one of the ten most influential mom bloggers of 2011, a WebMD Health Hero and one of the top 25 parent bloggers using social media for social good. She also writes the Fierce Blog, and a parenting column for Disney's Babble.com.

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  1. Survivor says:

    I'm so glad your blog is back up and running.
    I totally just experienced this and think it could also easily be a cross over into psychosis. I was hospitalized on three occassions. (May marked my one year mark after no hospitalizations.) All of my mental health issues started after the birth of my second child. Well, I was twice diagnosed with psychosis and once with a bipolar mania episode coming out of the hospital. I dismissed the mania one as being wrong. Anyone who knows me knows I am so not manic. I'm a very go-with-the-flow kinda gal. Now, I think I was wrong.
    Lately, I have been trying to learn social media for my work and crossed the line into mania or hypermania. My therapist made me set clear limits for myself as I found Twitter so darn stimulating and interesting. But, trying to learn Twitter and Klout and what LinkedIn has to offer was waaaayyyyy too much at once for me to take in all at one time. (I'm no longer on the computer near bedtime. I took social media off my phone for a while. I'm setting time limits on the computer.)
    So, the lesson I've learned? When I used to get overstimulated, didn't sleep and had paranoid thoughts mixed in, I used to think it was external or something someone else was doing: my husband, someone online, etc. Now, I know these thoughts are a warning sign my brain is acting up, or my mental illness needs treatment and I need to get my bootie to my therapist and psychiatrist.
    And, I'm not getting stuck on "naming" what's wrong with me either. I'd rather focus on what's right with me. (So many of these diagnosis run into and over one another.)

  2. Thanks for clarifying, Katherine. You are always so helpful and explain things in an easy-to-understand way.
    Unfortunately, I have suffered through both. I guess the upside (used very loosely) is I usually go through short spurts of mania, which is called Rapid Cycling. I'd be happy to write about this if you ever want to discuss this topic on your blog.

  3. Katherine Stone/Post says:

    Hello?! Of course I'd love you to write about it.

  4. Katherine Stone/Post says:

    Good for you for setting limits! Social media is definitely very overwhelming. No question about it.
    - K