Bipolar disorder affects about 1 in 40 adults in the U.S., but only about half of them receive some form of treatment. Bipolar might not be as common as other mental health conditions (such as depression), but it can have serious impacts on an individual’s life.

Bipolar Disorder: The Basics

Bipolar disorder is a condition where people experience cycling episodes of depression and mania, with varying severity and in varying patterns. There are three main types:

  • Bipolar 1 involves at least one episode of mania, and usually a depressive episode too.
  • Bipolar 2 involves depressive episodes and less severe manic episodes (called “hypomanic” episodes).
  • Cyclothymia involves milder forms of both episodes, but sufferers go through cycles of both.

Symptoms of mania are present in each type, but in some cases they’ll be either mild or more severe.

The Symptoms of Hypomania

Hypomania is a mild form of a manic episode, where many of the same symptoms are present, but in a less severe form. Hypomania can last anywhere from a few days to several months and includes symptoms such as:

  • Talking quickly or loudly, often jumping from subject to subject
  • Unusually high self-esteem and grandiose plans or thoughts
  • Hyperactivity or increased energy
  • Sleeping less
  • Racing thoughts
  • Feelings of euphoria

Hypomania symptoms are mild so you may think that the person is just unusually happy, rather than experiencing a manic episode.

Symptoms of Mania

The symptoms of mania are similar to those of hypomania, but are more severe, causing full manic episodes to last at least seven days. The main symptoms to look out for are:

  • Impulsivity and poor judgment
  • Engaging in risky behavior with no thought for the consequences
  • Feeling extremely “high” or being very irritable
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Barely sleeping but still being very energetic
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations

In addition, the symptoms of mania often include more severe versions of those seen in hypomania.

Finding Help for Bipolar Disorder

If you’ve noticed some of the symptoms of mania or depression that are associated with bipolar disorder in yourself or a loved one, it’s important to get help as soon as you can. If you are seeing the signs in someone else, be there for them and talk to them about their feelings. Try to encourage them to see a therapist or a counselor. Discuss the topic it in a way that doesn’t force the issue and risk putting them off the idea.

All types of bipolar disorder require treatment; even milder symptoms, like hypomania, can escalate into something more severe when not managed. Don’t leave it unaddressed and seek treatment as soon as possible.


“Bipolar Disorder Among Adults” – National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

“Bipolar Disorder” – National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

“Bipolar Disorder Signs and Symptoms” –


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