How Long Does a Bipolar Manic Episode Last?


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Bipolar disorder is a mental health disorder that involves intense changes in mood and emotions, including manic and depressive episodes. According to research, around 4.4% of adults in the United States will go on to be diagnosed with bipolar episodes at some point during their lifetimes.

Coping with manic episodes can be challenging for individuals with bipolar disorder and their loved ones. However, seeking support and guidance from mental health professionals can help them navigate this uncertainty together. There are also proactive steps a person can take to reduce the severity, frequency and duration of manic episodes. 

What are the symptoms of bipolar disorder during manic episodes?

Someone with bipolar disorder can switch from episodes of high emotion, called mania or hypomania, to low emotion, called depression. The symptoms of bipolar disorder can vary depending on whether someone is experiencing a manic episode, a depressive episode, or is in between episodes. Let’s focus on some of the most common symptoms of a manic episode:

  • Feeling as if they’re on a “high” — One of the common symptoms of bipolar mania is experiencing extreme “highs” that feel as if the person is on top of the world. Some people report feeling “euphoric” for however long their manic episodes last. 
  • Grandiosity — Individuals experiencing bipolar grandiosity may have an inflated sense of self-esteem. They may see themselves as exceptionally talented, successful or important. These perceptions often go beyond what is realistic. Grandiosity can also lead to heightened self-importance and overestimating one’s abilities.
  • Feeling as if they suddenly have excessive energy — Significant increases in energy and activity levels are an indication of a manic episode. Someone in a manic episode is likely to stay up through all hours of the night. They may also feel so excited that they hardly take time to stop and rest.
  • Making impulsive decisions — A symptom of mania from bipolar disorder is making risky or impulsive decisions. Someone experiencing a manic episode might spend an excessive amount of money. They may drive without a seat belt. Impulsivity during a manic episode can also involve concentration issues and relationship problems. It can even cause rapid speech.
  • Feeling highly irritable or agitated — Someone in the middle of a manic episode may begin to feel irritable or agitated with those around them. They may lash out at the people around them or seem quick to anger.

What factors can influence the length of a manic episode?

The length of a person’s manic episode depends on the individual and the stage of manic state they’re experiencing. Whether they’re receiving treatment also plays a role. With all these variables in mind, the length of a manic episode can be anywhere from one week to several months. 

There are three stages of manic episodes:

  • Hypomania — This stage of manic episodes often lasts four or more days. It occurs in people with bipolar 2 disorder. It results in muted symptoms when compared to bipolar 1 disorder. Hypomania episodes are the mild version of manic episodes.
  • Acute mania — People with bipolar 1 disorder are likely to experience acute mania. It involves the symptoms that we discussed earlier, including impulsivity and excessive energy. Acute manic episodes can last more than a week.
  • Delirious mania — This is the most severe stage of mania. It involves the symptoms of acute mania as well as delirium. Being delirious means a lack of reality perception due to confusion. It may also include psychosis. It develops suddenly within a few hours or days, often requiring hospitalization. 

The right type of treatment can decrease the amount of time a person experiences a manic episode and the severity of their symptoms. If you or a loved one has bipolar disorder, there are several ways that you can reduce the duration, frequency and severity of manic episodes, including: 

  • Learning and acknowledging triggers — Take note of circumstances that cause a manic episode to occur, such as seasonal changes. By acknowledging these triggers, you can feel more prepared for the symptoms, which can help you manage them.
  • Developing coping skills through therapy — A psychotherapist can show you how to develop healthy coping skills. These skills can help you reduce and gain control over your manic emotions.
  • Taking medication as prescribed — If you’ve been prescribed medication for your bipolar disorder, such as a mood stabilizer, it’s important to take it on a regular basis. Doing so can help reduce the risk of severe or long-lasting manic episodes.
  • Learning stress management techniques — Stress is a common trigger for manic episodes. By learning strategies that help you manage stressful situations, such as breathing exercises and creative outlets, you can reduce the negative effects of stress on your emotions that may lead to manic episodes.
  • Becoming educated — Focusing on psychoeducation can help you and your loved ones gain knowledge about how bipolar disorder affects your cognitive, emotional and behavioral health. By learning about the disorder, you can take away some of the fear and uncertainty that comes from it.
  • Monitoring mood shifts — It’s important to track your mood swings so that you can gain a better grasp on how quickly you cycle through your manic and depressive episodes. Keep a log of how your emotions change on a daily basis.

Lightfully can provide bipolar treatment programs in California

The goal of bipolar treatment is to stabilize mood, prevent the recurrence of both manic and depressive episodes, and enhance overall functioning and well-being. With our whole-person-centered care, we may be able to help reduce how long manic episodes last. 

Lightfully offers a soft landing and whole-person support for teens and adults struggling with mental health conditions. If you are considering treatment options, have questions about programs or need help navigating any other steps on the road to recovery, contact our caring Admissions Concierge Team today. 

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