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.
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.
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. The treatment for mania typically involves a mood stabilizer, like lithium, or an atypical antipsychotic, such as risperidone; psychotherapy is also recommended to help patients learn coping skills and adopt healthy lifestyle strategies that may reduce the risk of future manic episodes.
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.
Symptoms like hypersexuality and irritability can damage relationships, while impulsive behaviors can lead to substance abuse, unnecessary risks, or poor financial decisions. 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.