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What Is Hypomania?

Hypomania is a state of heightened or irritable mood and unusually increased energy or activity that is similar to but less intense than mania. A hypomanic episode is a distinct period of time in which these marked changes from a person’s baseline mood and energy are apparent.

A hypomanic episode is defined by the DSM-5 as lasting four or more days in a row, for most of the day, and involving several other symptoms in addition to changes in mood and activity. Among those symptoms are a spike in self-esteem or grandiosity, a lowered inclination to sleep, greater talkativeness, and increased engagement in potentially hazardous activities such as excessive spending or risky sexual behavior.

Unlike a manic episode, however, a hypomanic episode does not necessarily significantly disrupt a person’s work or social life and does not involve psychotic delusions or hallucinations.

Hypomania is a feature of some mood disorders, namely bipolar disorder and cyclothymic disorder, and those who experience symptoms of hypomania often also go through separate periods of depression.

Is Hypomania Good or Bad?

For someone experiencing a stretch of hypomania, a burst of energy, rush of ideas, or interest in achieving goals may add up to a generally positive-feeling experience. There may be a blurry line between a functional period of hypomanic productivity and a more severe state that indicates professional care is warranted.

Hypomania can, however, involve negative aspects (including irritability) and may increase the possibility of harm resulting from risk-taking behavior. It can also coincide with depressive symptoms.

While not everyone who experiences hypomanic symptoms has a mood disorder, their presence is important to any broader consideration of a person’s mental health history. A hypomanic episode is key to the psychiatric definition of bipolar disorder type II, which also involves major depression, and is associated with a high risk for suicide.

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