A hypomanic episode is usually associated with bipolar disorder. It is not a disorder itself, but an episode. Although hypomanic episodes have some of the same symptoms as manic episodes that are also part of bipolar disorder, there are two main differences: the mood is not usually severe enough to interfere with work or social situations and hypomanic episodes have no psychotic features. Coping with a loved one who is at times hypomanic, means understanding the symptoms and behaviors associated with the episodes.
Hypomanic Episode Symptoms
Hypomanic episodes are primarily characterized by a period of elevated, expansive or irritable mood. These symptoms usually persist for at least 4 days and are present for most of the day. The mood is distinct and different from the person’s normal mood and is accompanied by at least three of the following symptoms:
- Inflated self-esteem or grandiosity
- Decreased need for sleep
- More talkative than usual or feels pressure to keep talking
- Racing thoughts, flight of ideas
- Increased goal-directed activity
- Excessive involvement in pleasurable activities that have a high potential for painful consequences, such as purchasing sprees, sexual indiscretions or bad business decisions
The key component of hypomanic episodes is that the person’s behavior is completely uncharacteristic, and the changes in behavior are obvious and sudden. These changes in behavior must not be associated with drug use or abuse in order to be classified as hypomanic.
Coping With Hypomanic Episodes
If you have a loved one who experiences hypomanic episodes as a result of bipolar disorder, there are things you can do to cope with the situation until is passes. Use these three key strategies when dealing with a hypomanic episode in the one you love:
- Support Treatment – Supporting your loved one’s treatment by providing transportation, being aware of his schedule and reminding him of his appointments, encouraging the use of medication at the proper time and finding ways to help your loved one employ coping strategies learned in therapy are all ways to help support his treatment during a hypomanic episode.
- Communicate in Ways that Calm – Answer your loved one’s questions with short, calm and honest answers. Avoid getting into long conversations or arguments to avoid further stimulation and escalation of the situation. People with elevated moods tend to be more sensitive and, although they appear confident, can take offence easily.
- Deal with Risky Behavior – Take appropriate action when behaviors become risky or dangerous.
Finding Help for Bipolar Disorder and Addiction
If you or a loved one struggles with bipolar disorder and addiction, we are here to help you. Call our toll-free helpline to speak to an admissions coordinator about treatment options.