What Does It Feel Like To Have A Manic Episode?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated 4.4% of American adults experience bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is characterized by periods of mania and depression, with each lasting as little as a few hours or as long as a few weeks (per PsychCentral). Psychotherapy and prescription mood stabilizers are common treatment options for those experiencing bipolar episodes.

While science has uncovered many of the pieces that make up bipolar disorder, some questions remain unanswered. For example, the U.K.-based organization Mind notes that the cause of the disorder is still unclear. However, several factors including trauma, genetics, and some medications are thought to trigger bipolar symptoms. Bipolar disorder is also commonly misdiagnosed, and mistakenly mixed up with depression and other conditions.

According to WebMD, one feature that sets bipolar disorder apart from depression — regardless of the type of bipolar disorder — is the experience of mania or hypomania. Understanding what a manic episode feels like can be a crucial part of getting a proper diagnosis.

What you should know about mania symptoms

In bipolar disorder, a manic episode may sound like the cheery antithesis to a depressive episode. However, it can be much more complex. Dr. Igor Galynker told Self, "Mania is a state of high energy, high activity, and less of a need for sleep. ... People engage in unusual behavior and may have an inflated opinion of oneself." The Cleveland Clinic lists additional symptoms including euphoria, racing thoughts, fidgeting, and talking quickly.

While feeling energetic or euphoric might not sound so bad, there are downsides to experiencing a manic episode. Delusions, paranoia, and hallucinations may occur, as well as irritability (per Healthline). GoodRx explains that mania can also lead to self-destructive behavior due to poor judgment. Therefore, emergency treatment is critical.

At the end of a manic episode, it's common to feel tired and depressed, Dr. Aimee Daramus, clinical psychologist, told Verywell Mind. Because mania can trigger memory lapses, it may be difficult to remember recent events. In other cases, some people may start to feel embarrassed when reflecting on the behavior and choices they made during their manic episode.

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.