Identifying mania in mental health diagnoses
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06-08-15 Category: Mental Health, Therapy


The presence of mania or manic symptoms can drastically change a diagnosis. One can argue that mania may be one of the most critical characteristics of a specific mental health disorder. However, recognizing the early signs of mental illness is undoubtedly one of the most important steps in pursuing effective treatment.

In order to improve the current system, clinicians, mental health experts and the public should receive information about the indicative signs of mania. Receiving the incorrect diagnosis for one’s problems must be prevented, as different disorders require different treatment plans.

Identifying mania

Identifying the specific type of mania is imperative to a proper diagnosis. Without the existence of manic tendencies, a person most likely suffers from a unilateral mental disorder like depression. By no means does the absence imply one’s condition is less extreme, as one-sided afflictions are just as serious and much more focused. If mania is present, an individual often has bipolar I disorder. A slightly milder form of mania, known as hypomania, can also manifest itself as a symptom of bipolar II disorder. It is also important to make a distinction between mania, separate disorders like kleptomania and pyromania and the exhibited behavior of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

The classic case of mania that is a symptom of bipolar I disorder has very defined parameters. Since it is typically juxtaposed with major depression, identifying characteristic behavior is easier, especially for a medical professional. Unfortunately, a seemingly straightforward instance of bipolar disorder can still feature some complicating variations. The most classified deviation from the norm is a mixed feature specifier, which is a combination of manic and depressive symptoms.

The expressed symptoms of mania include:

  • Heightened self-esteem or grandiosity
  • A significant lack of and decreased need for sleep
  • Excessive, speedy speech patterns or a pressure to keep talking
  • Racing thoughts
  • Difficulty concentrating or drifting attention
  • Increase in goal-directed or psychomotor activity, typically of an occupational, educational, sexual or social nature
  • Excessive involvement in pleasurable, yet risky behaviors, including unrestrained shopping sprees, foolish business decisions or sexual promiscuity

Another possible situation is that a person may undergo hypomanic episodes. The symptoms are significantly more subtle than its full-fledged counterpart. In fact, most of the criteria for mania and hypomania in the American Psychological Association’s Statistical and Diagnostic Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) are identical to one another, except for small details such as experiencing delusions or hallucinations. This has made the process of correctly differentiating bipolar I and bipolar II substantially more difficult. However, clinicians and scholars have sought to establish clearer criteria. For example, David L. Wagner, M.D., outlined a tested set of guidelines to help discern varying intensities of mania. The acronym “FLIGHTY” describes the unique symptoms of hypomania.

The salient signs of hypomania are as follows:

  • F- Flights of ideas or thinking too fast
  • L- Lacking attention, which can encompass a range of unfocused activities and unnecessary preoccupations
  • I- Insomnia, specifically displaying elevated energy despite little sleep
  • G- Grandiosity or feeling more important and special than the average person
  • H- Hyperactive, characterized by physical agitation or starting a lot of projects while finishing only a few
  • T- Talkative, with tongue-tied or pressured speech
  • Y- Yearnings or the indulging in pleasurable or risky behaviors

In addition to these important classifications, mania is a characteristic of other mental disorders as well. Although conditions like kleptomania and pyromania include the root word in question, the tendencies of these ailments are more closely related to the concepts of impulsivity, obsession and compulsion. This reasoning goes similarly for OCD, as any manic-like symptoms are directed towards a specific thought or behavior. In addition to all of these differential diagnoses, it is also imperative to rule out substance abuse or addiction as a cause of mania, as this also changes the circumstances of the diagnosis and the treatment plan immensely.

Sovereign Health Group strives to improve the state of mental health treatment and recovery, which is dependent on detailed, accurate diagnoses. Through its comprehensive screening process, evidence-based care strategies and holistic integration, Sovereign Health provides a chance for a better life. Recognizing the early signs of mania or bipolar disorder is essential for a smooth recovery and future benefit of the individual. For further information on our treatment programs for addiction, mental health disorders or co-occurring disorders you can contact a representative online or call (866) 819-0427.

Written by Lee Yates, Sovereign Health Group writer

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