Feeling a rush of uncontainable energy, you may find yourself racing around the web placing one order after another of items you don’t even really need. Or maybe you feel a wave of adrenaline that causes you to launch a dozen home projects at one, shooting through the rooms of your house like a pinball, and never really finishing a single task. If either of these examples sound familiar you may have asked yourself, “Am I having a manic episode?”
Mania is associated with signs of bipolar disorder, a complex mental health disorder that features unpredictable shifts between manic episodes and depressive episodes. When a manic episode presents itself there can be some serious repercussions that result from the high-pitched energy and euphoria that drive it. This is because along with that sudden boost of energy comes some very erratic and impulsive actions, not to mention intense irritability and insomnia.
When struggling with bipolar disorder, it is helpful to learn how to recognize the signs of the impending manic episodes, as well as the depressive ones. Seeing the warning signs can help you take proactive steps to rein it in before it explodes into uncontrollable behaviors that you end up regretting. Asking yourself, “Am I having a manic episode?” can get you in the mindset of preparation, which is all good.
Types of Bipolar Disorder
There are varying degrees of intensity of these episodes, so for that reason bipolar disorder has four classifications:
Bipolar I: Features both manic and depressive episodes that vary in duration, but at least one manic episode that includes psychotic features must last seven days or longer for the diagnosis to be made. The manic episode may have been shorter but was severe enough to require hospitalization. Mania is more prevalent in bipolar I.
Bipolar II: The individual experiences hypomania instead of mania, which is a less intense form of mania. Diagnosis will depend on the individual having experienced at least one hypomanic episode and one depressive episode. Depressive episodes are more prevalent in bipolar II.
Cyclothymic disorder: The individual experiences a milder form of bipolar disorder, with episodes of less severe mania and depression that resembles moodiness instead of bipolar disorder, and lasts more than two years. Untreated cyclothymic disorder can develop into bipolar disorder.
Unspecified bipolar: This classification involves abnormal mood disorder symptoms that do not fit into a specific pattern.
Approximately 5.7 million people struggle with this serious mental health condition, according to data provided by the National Institute on Mental Illness.
What Causes Bipolar Disorder?
It is still not fully understood how someone develops bipolar disorder. Some of the factors recognized as potential factors include a family history of bipolar disorder or mental illness, an imbalance in brain chemistry that diminishes emotion regulation, or a history of trauma or abuse. Also, certain substances, such as alcohol, hallucinogenics, benzodiazepines, and some heart or blood pressure medications have been found to provoke the symptoms of a bipolar disorder, if not igniting the disorder itself. Ongoing research is getting closer to understanding the genetic link or brain regulation issue that can cause bipolar disorder.
Brain structure differences themselves are being studied as a possible explanation for the onset of bipolar disorder. It is also thought that particular features in brain structure might predispose someone to bipolar disorder, especially in light of traumatic events or intensely stressful life events that might trigger a bipolar episode.
What Are the Symptoms of a Manic Episode?
The symptoms of a manic episode may come on suddenly and are often very intense. These symptoms include:
- Euphoric mood, elation
- Abundance of energy
- Poor judgment
- Increased activity levels, hyperactivity
- Rapid speech
- Feeling jumpy
- Racing thoughts
- Engage in high-risk or impulsive behaviors
- Take on multiple tasks at once
How Bipolar Mania Impacts Daily Life
Whether a person spends their days at a job or as a student, a majority of hours will involve contact with other people. Healthy social functioning is essential for succeeding in all realms of life. When manic episodes erupt they will hinder the ability to function optimally in daily life.
Bipolar disorder can stress work relationships. An employee who exhibits mood swings on the job is likely to be viewed as unstable, which can disrupt career aspirations or even result in termination if the mood swings are seen as harmful to other employees. Additionally, the work performance of someone with unmanaged bipolar disorder will suffer as projects and assignments will be late, poorly executed, or missed entirely.
For children, having a parent with bipolar disorder can be confusing and destabilizing. Children will not understand why their parent is really happy and energetic one day and sad and tired the next. This can cause the children to become anxious and tentative, not knowing what to expect from this parent from day to day.
A similar conundrum exists for the significant others involved in a close relationship with the individual. The unpredictable mood swings, and the fallout from the manic episodes, can place so much pressure on a relationship that it is likely to fail.
Bipolar can also result in diminished health. A manic episode may result in getting inadequate sleep over a several day period, adversely impacting health and wellness. Impulsive behaviors can result in high-risk situations that lead to injury or damages.
What Steps Can Be Taken to Manage a Manic Episode?
The symptoms of a manic episode may emerge suddenly and without much warning. When you find yourself thinking, “Am I having a manic episode?” there may be very little time to proactively manage the oncoming symptoms. Seeking out the help of your support system and reaching out to your doctor or therapist can help deflect an episode. Better yet is learning the actions to take prior to a manic episode developing. Some proactive steps include:
- Avoid alcohol and drugs
- Keep a regular sleep schedule
- Practice relaxation techniques
- Adhere to medication
- Engage in weekly psychotherapy
In addition, the earlier the individual receives treatment for bipolar disorder the better the outcome. According to the author of an article published in The Lancet, Sameer Jauhar, Ph.D., “As a consultant psychiatrist this is something I see again and again. People who are identified early and get effective treatment quickly are able to avoid further episodes and achieve extraordinary things, while others who the system doesn’t serve so well can get stuck for years.”
Psychiatric Intervention for Bipolar Disorder
Management of bipolar disorder begins with first stabilizing the mental health condition. Bipolar disorder can lead to extreme acting out that may put the individual or others in harm’s way. A residential mental health setting will provide the acute stabilization services and 24-hour monitoring, followed by an individualized treatment plan.
Generally, bipolar disorder will be treated and managed by both medication and therapy. The medications might include lithium, antidepressants, or anticonvulsants. A period of trialing the medications and making necessary adjustments can fine tune this important treatment element for bipolar disorder management.
Psychotherapy includes a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy, which will assist the individual in identifying distorted or irrational thought patterns and change them, along with interpersonal and social rhythm therapy. This type of therapy is useful in helping the bipolar patient learn how to predict an oncoming manic or depressive episode and better manage them. In addition, IPSRT emphasizes the importance of maintaining key relationships, of establishing healthy routines, and of managing stress.
Learning How to Relax
When you find yourself spinning out of control, wondering, “Am I having a manic episode?” that is the time to take the initiative and employ some effective relaxation techniques. Being familiar with these holistic activities can provide an arsenal of healing tools that will come into play when a manic episode threatens. These relaxation activities include:
- Deep breathing. Breathing becomes shallow when we are irritable or filled with adrenaline. Slowly drawing in the breath, holding it, and then fully releasing it is a quick way to alleviate feelings of anxiety. Deep breathing exercises can be done anywhere at any time.
- Meditation. Meditation can be as individual as the person engaged in it, but will usually involve a period of quiet time to reflect or pray. Some may benefit from accessing a meditation app that provides guided imagery that increases the sense of peace and wellbeing.
- Yoga. Yoga is an ancient practice that uses slow, purposeful movements and poses that can help open up energy flow. Combined with meditation and focused breathing, yoga can induce peace of mind.
- Aromatherapy. Essential oils are made from plant and flower parts and distilled into a potent form of oil. These are used in aromatherapy, or breathing in the essence of particular oils that can boost mood and calm the mind.
- Working out. A moderately rigorous workout of 30-60 minutes can help induce emotional stability due to the production of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine.
- Mindfulness. Practicing mindfulness helps to center the individual in the present moment. This can be particularly helpful during a manic episode, as it helps to rein in distracting thoughts and forces the individual to pay attention to the rhythm of their breathing.
- Art therapy. Working through emotions using an art medium can be very relaxing, as well as a great outlet for expressing feelings. Art therapy can involve painting, drawing, sculpture, or crafts.
- Acupuncture. Acupuncture is an ancient Eastern medical practice that opens up blocked energy flow in the body by inserting tiny needles in particular regions. This can induce relaxation and improve overall mood.
The combination of these stress-reducing activities with cognitive behavioral therapy and possibly antidepressants can help effectively manage bipolar disorder and improve the quality of life.
Elevation Behavioral Health Offers Integrated Bipolar Treatment Program
Elevation Behavioral Health is a residential mental health program that provides comprehensive treatment for individuals with bipolar disorder. Elevation Behavioral Health elevates mental health interventions to a more intensive and focused level of intensity. At Elevation Behavioral Health, patients find themselves in a compassionate, nurturing environment that promotes emotional healing. Interventions are designed to help stabilize the severity of the mood swings, to learn new ways to recognize and manage oncoming symptoms, and to teach relaxation techniques. If you have been wondering, “Am I having a manic episode?” please contact Elevation Behavioral Health today at (888) 561-0868.