Understanding Mania

If you have a loved one with bipolar disorder, you may be familiar with mania. Mania is when someone experiences a change in mood with an unusually high amount of energy. Mania is episodic -- meaning it can come and go -- and manic episodes can last for days, weeks or even months.

We all experience mood shifts, where we can be really excited or cranky or fearful. But mania usually involves more extreme types of behavior, which often start after a stressful situation, like a job loss, a big move or the death of a loved one.

If someone you love has a manic episode it can be very alarming and worrying. Episodes often cause significant strain on a person’s life and relationships, including the relationship your loved one has with you. However, many times mania can feel great, exhilarating or even euphoric for the person having a manic episode. This can be helpful to keep in mind as you and your loved one may have very different experiences.

With that in mind, it’s important to remember how your loved one is normally like when they are mentally well (for example, if they are normally a chatterbox or easily excitable). When you know your loved one’s normal emotional state, it’s easier to notice when their mood changes.