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What Is Mania?

Mania is a state of elevated energy, mood, and behavior, most often seen in those with bipolar disorder, schizoaffective disorder, or who have taken certain drugs or medications. While the feelings present in mania can be positive, energetic, or even euphoric, they may also manifest more negatively—as emotions like irritation, anxiety, or grandiosity.

Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment of Mania

Mania can range from mild (known as hypomania) to severe; at its most extreme, mania can trigger delusions, violence, and an increased risk of suicide. Depending on the cause, a manic episode can last anywhere from several days to several months, and will typically increase in severity—and in the level of agitation—as it progresses. Milder mania is more likely to be associated with positive outcomes, like increased productivity or greater feelings of optimism. However, the impulsive behaviors associated with a manic state can lead to substance abuse, unnecessary risks, or poor financial decisions.

What triggers mania?

Bipolar 1 is one possible cause of mania; since cycles of depression are much more common in those with the disorder, only one manic episode is necessary to grant a diagnosis of bipolar 1. Episodes of hypomania are more commonly associated with milder bipolar 2. When mania is accompanied by delusions or other psychosis-like symptoms, schizoaffective disorder is more likely to be diagnosed.

What’s the difference between mania and hypomania?

Hypomania, literally meaning “under mania,” is a temporary state of positivity and productivity that lasts at least four days. While hypomania results in noticeable changes in a person’s behavior and energy, it doesn’t reach the same severe shifts in mood and activity that characterize a full-blown manic episode. When hypomania appears alongside depression, it may indicate the presence of a bipolar disorder (most likely bipolar II).

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Is There a Connection Between Mania and Creativity?

Because they can be marked by bursts of energy, higher self-esteem, and productivity, episodes of mania are thought to be sources of heightened creativity. Indeed, some artists credit “manic” episodes for their best work, and some evidence suggests that bipolar disorder is more prevalent among the creative professions. But though mania can have positive outcomes—including an increase in goal-directed activity—the syndrome can also be dangerous, particularly as the severity increases.

Some who view mania as the source of their creativity hesitate to seek treatment out of fear that it will dampen their artistic spirit. But appropriate treatment—usually combining medication with psychotherapy—can help curb more dangerous symptoms, while, ideally, continuing to promote creative expression.

Does mania make you more creative?

It’s not uncommon for manic episodes to spur creativity—just look at van Gogh, Sir Isaac Newton, Mozart, and Edgar Allen Poe, who are all believed to have been bipolar. The tremendous energy and grandiose sense of productivity that people experience during manic episodes can be beneficial for creativity. However, people often mistake the way they feel with the mania for a sudden surge of creative skill, when, in fact, their creativity never left them. With practice, a person can learn to be creative without manic episodes that risk their health and emotional well-being.

How is mania harmful to creativity?

Creative people who have manic episodes are far more likely than the average person is to experience mood swings and depression. Their depressive symptoms can range from mild to severe and may last for months out of the year. Unlike when they are simply not manic, being depressed tends to dampen an individual’s creativity. What makes someone great creatively may lead to suicidal thoughts and impulses.

Mania and Relationships

During a manic episode, a person may become irritable and more prone to disagreement. This can create tension in relationships. Alternatively, they may exhibit hypersexuality, pursuing opportunities for sexual intimacy either inside or outside of the relationship. Their reckless behavior (e.g., promiscuity, gambling, excessive drug use, overspending, etc.) can damage their relationships with their romantic partner, family, friends, and others.

Is mania a problem in relationships?

Manic episodes typically involve elevated energy, accelerated thought processes, and an inability to sleep. The sense of euphoria, increased sociability, and impaired judgment can lead someone in a manic state to make poor decisions. People with manic partners find themselves doubting the feelings their partner expresses during a manic episode. Mania can also manifest as increased irritability that results in an individual being on-edge and treating others harshly. The elevated libido that frequently accompanies manic episodes can lead to risky sexual behavior with consequences that crop up later.

How do you handle mania in a relationship?

Since relationships with mania are at a higher risk for separation or divorce, couples best cope with bipolar disorder and manic episodes with the help of professional support that can intervene during more symptomatic periods. Partners often find comfort in confiding in parents who can encourage optimism during difficult times and offer practical assistance. Friends and children can also be sources of motivation and emotional resilience. Successful partners use healthy coping strategies, such as avoiding strong emotional reactions, practicing acceptance, and focusing on the positive. Maintaining routines and taking care of oneself is essential.

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