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Classification and external resources
ICD-10 F30.0
Patient UK Hypomania

Hypomania (literally “under mania” or "less than mania") is a mood state characterized by persistent disinhibition and pervasive elevated (euphoric) or irritable mood but generally less severe than full mania. Characteristic behaviors are extremely energetic, talkative, and confident commonly exhibited with a flight of creative ideas. [1] While hypomanic behavior often generates productivity and excitement, it can become troublesome if the subject engages in risky or less than wise behaviors. [2]


The Ancient Greek physician Hippocrates called one personality type 'hypomanic'. In 19th century psychiatry, when mania had a broad meaning of craziness, hypomania was equated by some to concepts of 'partial insanity' or monomania. A more specific usage was advanced by the German neuro-psychiatrist Emanuel Ernst Mendel in 1881, who wrote "I recommend (taking under consideration the word used by Hippocrates) to name those types of mania that show a less severe phenomenological picture, 'hypomania'".[3] Narrower operational definitions of hypomania were developed from the 1960s/1970s.


Individuals in a hypomanic state have a decreased need for sleep, are extremely outgoing and competitive, have a great deal of energy and are otherwise often fully functioning (unlike full mania). [4]

Distinctive markers[edit]

Specifically, hypomania is distinguished from mania by the absence of psychotic symptoms and grandiosity, and by its lesser degree of impact on functioning. Hypomania is a feature of bipolar II disorder and cyclothymia, but can also occur in schizoaffective disorder. Hypomania is also a feature of bipolar I disorder as it arises in sequential procession as the mood disorder fluctuates between normal mood and mania. Some individuals with bipolar I disorder have hypomanic as well as manic episodes. Signature hypersexuality may occur with some people. Hypomania can also occur when moods progress downwards from a manic mood state to a normal mood. Hypomania is sometimes credited with increasing creativity and productive energy. A significant number of people with creative talents have reportedly experienced hypomania or other symptoms of bipolar disorder and attribute their success to it. Classic symptoms of hypomania include mild euphoria, a flood of ideas, seemingly endless energy, and a desire and drive for success. A lesser form of hypomania is called hyperthymia.


While most often associated with bipolar disorder, hypomania is also a side effect of numerous medications, often those used in psychopharmacotherapy. In cases of true drug-induced hypomania, discontinuation of the drug that caused or triggered the episode—for example antidepressants, steroids, or stimulants such as amphetamine—usually causes a fairly swift return to normal mood. An episode of hypomania may be incorrectly judged to have uncovered an underlying bipolar disorder, but drug-induced hypomania, by definition, does not point to bipolar disorder. Hypomania is less likely to be a side effect in those with pure clinical depression or unipolar depression, unless for example tricyclic antidepressants are given in very high doses.


Often in those who have experienced their first episode of hypomania – generally without psychotic features – there will have been a long or recent history of depression prior to the emergence of manic symptoms, and commonly this surfaces in the mid to late teens. Due to this being an emotionally charged time, it is not unusual for mood swings to be passed off as hormonal or teenage ups and downs and for a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder to be missed until there is evidence of an obvious manic/hypomanic phase.[5]

Hypomania may also occur as a side effect of pharmaceuticals prescribed for conditions/diseases other than psychological states or mood disorders. In those instances, as in cases of drug-induced hypomanic episodes in unipolar depressives, the hypomania can almost invariably be eliminated by lowering medication dosage, withdrawing the drug entirely, or changing to a different medication if discontinuation of treatment is not possible.[6]

Some, such as Johns Hopkins psychologist John Gartner, argue that hypomania is better understood as a stable non-pathological temperament rather than an episode of mental illness.[7] The DSM, however, clearly defines hypomania as an aberrant state, not a stable trait.

Hypomania may also be triggered by the occurrence of a highly exciting event in the patient's situation, such as a substantial financial gain or recognition.[citation needed]

Hypomania is also associated with narcissistic personality disorder.[8]

Symptomatic recognition[edit]

The DSM-IV-TR defines a hypomanic episode as including, over the course of at least four days, elevated mood plus three of the following symptoms OR irritable mood plus four of the following symptoms:

Possible benefits[edit]

Some commentators believe that hypomania actually has an evolutionary advantage.[10] People with hypomania are generally perceived as being energetic, euphoric, visionary, overflowing with new ideas, and sometimes overconfident and very charismatic, yet—unlike those with full mania—are sufficiently capable of coherent thought and action to participate in everyday activities. Like mania, there seems to be a significant correlation between hypomania and creativity. A person in the state of hypomania might be immune to fear and doubt and have negligible social and sexual inhibition. People experiencing hypomania usually have a very strong sex drive. Hypomanic people are often the "life of the party". They may talk to strangers easily, offer solutions to problems, and find pleasure in small activities. Such advantages may render them unwilling to submit to treatment, especially when symptoms do not impair functioning.[11]

Relationship with disorders[edit]

Cyclothymia is a condition of continued mood fluctuations between hypomania and depressive symptoms that do not meet the criteria for a major depressive episode. These are often interspersed with periods of normal moods.[12]

When a patient presents with a history of one or more hypomanic episodes and one or more depressive episodes that meet the criteria for a major depressive episode, bipolar II disorder is diagnosed. If the depressive episodes are routinely during the winter and the hypomania presents in the spring/summer it is possible that the person may be diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder instead of bipolar II disorder.[13]

If left untreated, hypomania can transition into mania and sometimes psychosis, in which case, bipolar I disorder is often diagnosed.[14] (See also, Kindling model)


Medications typically prescribed for hypomania include mood stabilizers such as valproic acid and lithium carbonate as well as atypical antipsychotics such as olanzapine and quetiapine.

If a hypomanic state is the result of medication side effects or drug abuse (e.g. amphetamines), then certain sedatives including benzodiazepines can sometimes normalize an individual's mood and energy levels.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mania and Hypomania [1]
  2. ^ Understanding Hypomania and Mania [2]
  3. ^ Shorter, A Historical Dictionary of Psychiatry, Pg132
  4. ^ Bipolar Disorder in Adults [3]
  5. ^ Drug-Induced Dysfunction in Psychiatry. Matcheri S. Keshavan and John S. Kennedy, Editors (Taylor & Francis, 1992).
  6. ^ Bipolar Disorder: A Summary of Clinical Issues and Treatment Options. Bipolar Disorder Sub-Committee, Canadian Network for Mood and Anxiety Treatments (CANMAT). April 1997
  7. ^ http://johngartner.com
  8. ^ Daniel Fulford, Sheri L. Johnson, and Charles S. Carver (December 2008). "Commonalities and differences in characteristics of persons at risk for narcissism and mania". J Res Pers. 42 (6): 1427–1438. doi:10.1016/j.jrp.2008.06.002. PMC 2849176. PMID 20376289. 
  9. ^ "Hypomanic Episode". BehaveNet Clinical Capsules. Retrieved 2008-01-03. 
  10. ^ Fieve, Ronald R. (2006). Bipolar II: Enhance Your Highs, Boost Your Creativity, and Escape the Cycles of Recurrent Depression—The Essential Guide to Recognize and Treat the Mood Swings of This Increasingly Common Disorder. Emmaus, Pa.: Rodale Books. ISBN 978-1-59486-224-3. 
  11. ^ Doran, Christopher M. (2007). The Hypomania Handbook: The Challenge of Elevated Mood. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. pp. 104–105. ISBN 978-0-7817-7520-5. Retrieved 9 December 2013. 
  12. ^ "Cyclothymia". BehaveNet Clinical Capsules. Retrieved 2008-01-03. 
  13. ^ "Bipolar II Disorder". BehaveNet Clinical Capsules. Retrieved 2008-01-03. 
  14. ^ Post Robert M. "Kindling and sensitization as models for affective episode recurrence, cyclicity, and tolerance phenomena". Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews 31 (6): 858–873. doi:10.1016/j.neubiorev.2007.04.003. 

External links[edit]