Coping with a Hypomanic Episode

Coping with a Hypomanic Episode

A hypomanic episode is typically part of bipolar II disorder where a person presents major depressive episodes and at least one or more episodes of hypomania. A hypomanic episode typically produces the same characteristics of a manic episode with notable differences including the following:

  • Hypomanic episodes are generally not as severe as manic episodes and do not significantly interfere with or prevent a person from working or socializing with others
  • Although the hypomanic episode is noticeable by others it is usually not debilitating where as a manic episode prevents a person from continuing to socialize or work with others
  • Hypomanic episodes never present any psychotic symptoms where manic episodes of bipolar I disorder generally produce significant psychotic symptoms

Hypomanic episodes last for at least four or more days and produce consistent levels of unusually heightened and irritable moods that are noticeably different from the person’s normal mood. The elevated mood is present consistently throughout the majority of each day of the episode. The characteristics of a hypomanic episode typically include the following:

  • Grandiosity
  • A decrease in the amount of sleep needed
  • Excessive talkativeness
  • Racing thoughts or flurry of ideas
  • Easily distracted and drawn to irrelevant things
  • Psychomotor agitation characterized by unintentional motions that have no purpose such as pacing or biting nails
  • Engaging in excessive amounts of pleasurable activities that pose a high risk of personal loss and consequence such as shopping sprees, gambling or random sexual engagements

Diagnosis of a bipolar II related hypomanic episode is generally not given unless the episode is deemed to not be associated with or stemming from any form of substance abuse. Many of the symptoms of a hypomanic episode can also be the symptoms of substance abuse, which make accurately diagnosing a hypomanic episode difficult. Hypomania can be challenging to live with as it can cause numerous problems and consequences within social and occupational settings. However, taking the necessary measures to relieve some of the symptoms and come down from the elevated moods can help in coping with a hypomanic episode. Some of the different ways that a person struggling with hypomania can adequately cope with the episode and avoid consequences include the following:

  • Be self-aware that thoughts and feelings during an episode are a direct result of hypomania and do not require action to be taken
  • Avoid foods like sugar and caffeine as both substances increase hypomanic symptoms
  • Practice healthy eating
  • Exercise on a regular basis to expend excess energy (unless the exercise begins to activate hypomanic episodes)
  • Try to adhere to a strict sleep schedule
  • Practice meditation or yoga along with breathing exercises to promote calmness
  • Seek out professional help if episodes of hypomania become severe or potentially harmful

Accepting the disorder and practicing self-awareness are two of the best ways to avoid acting out negative hypomanic thoughts and feelings. Seeking out professional treatment can help reduce the severity and consistency of hypomanic episodes through counseling and behavioral therapy.

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