I am cruising Amazon.com’s Daily Deals looking for something to buy. Something just right…that I can’t live without. My cursor hovers over the “Add to Cart” button. Then I spin the wheel on the mouse and look at other things I can’t live without. I don’t have control over my spending when I’m hypomanic. Well, that’s not really true. I do have some control but it’s difficult to exercise. Being too spendy is just one of the things brought on by hypomania.

Hypomania is the misunderstood cousin of Bipolar Mania. People always preface it by saying, “It’s not real mania, so its no big deal.” The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Disorders (DSM IV) would beg to differ and they have nearly the same criteria for mania and hypomania.

Harvard Medical School Publishing listed the following symptoms of hypomania/mania:

*decreased need for sleep

*inflated self-esteem or grandiosity

*increased talkativeness

*racing thoughts or ideas

*marked distractability

*agitation or increased activity

*excessive participation in activities that are pleasurable but invite personal or fiscal harm (shopping sprees, sexual indescretions, impulsive business investments, etc.)

The only real difference is that a hypomanic episode typically lasts about four days whereas manic episodes go on for a week of longer.

Hypomania blows into my life like a tornado (I live in the Midwest…its what I know). All my emotions seem to get swept up….irritable, reckless, talky, inappropriate, spendy, angry and a whale of an attitude. When I am in its grip, I can’t focus. Instead, my brain tries to do all the things at once.

So what do you do if you realize you’re in a hypomanic/manic state?

Be sure to record some things like the date, your mood, your symptoms and possible triggers. Why? Because it helps you understand your episode to write these things down. Especially if you can identify your triggers so you can avoid them in the future. For example, many people experience mania/hypomania in the Spring. I find it helpful to track my moods every day so I can see patterns and things that help.

Try to slow down your thoughts and body. If you find yourself practically running everywhere, slow down, take some deep breaths.

Use affirmations (https://www.mentallyinteresting.com/positive-affirmations). Saying affirmations can help you calm down and feel more in control of yourself.

Engage in physical activity to burn off some off your energy.

Be sure you are taking care of yourself (https://www.mentallyinteresting.com/self-care-plan). Eat regular meals. Stay hydrated. Practice good sleep hygiene.

You might want to ask someone to hold your credit and/or debit cards for a few days if you just don’t feel like you can control your spending.

Contact your psychiatrist if your symptoms are bothersome or the episode lasts longer than a week. The next time you see your therapist, talk with him/her about coping skills for hypomanic/manic episodes.

Hypomanic/Manic episodes are sometimes very difficult to deal with. The irritability that comes along with it is brutal. I am prepared to snap someone’s head off for the least offense. And this doesn’t make me feel good about myself. It makes me feel like a nasty person. So I try to be very aware of my irritation level and remove myself from the situation if it gets too high.

Hypomania and mania aren’t so different and struggling with either is very challenging. Be sure to be gentle with yourself and don’t blame yourself for things you might do while hypomanic/manic.

Have you experienced hypomania or mania? What were the main symptoms that you had? Did you seek professional help?

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SOURCES:

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, IV.

Harvard Medical School Publishing. Ask the Doctor: What is hypomania? December 2010.

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