Hypomania is similar to mania, but with less severe symptoms, shorter duration, and less functional impairment.
The actual list of symptoms is identical to mania, except they are less severe in number and intensity. In addition, there is little or no functional impairment. Hypomanic episodes may actually result in increased productivity due to the person’s increased energy level. This contrasts with mania where the individual is too disorganized to accomplish much, despite a greatly augmented energy level. Psychiatric hospitalization (involuntary or voluntary) is not required and psychotic features, not uncommon in full-blown mania, are absent.
For the mood disorders, DSM-IV describes several types of episodes. These episodes are not disorders in themselves, but descriptions of discrete syndromes, which can form the building blocks of actual disorders.
For a Hypomanic Episode, DSM-IV lists the following criteria:
- The symptoms must last for at least 4 days
- Three or more of the following symptoms (at least 4 if the mood is only irritable):
- decreased need for sleep
- pressured speech
- racing thoughts or flight of ideas
- increased activity or agitation
- increased engagement in pleasurable butt risky activities
- The episode represents a clear change in the person’s normal behavior
- The episode is observable by others
- The episode is not severe enough to cause marked social or occupational dysfunction
- The symptoms are not secondary (the direct result of a substance or general medical condition)
It is a key feature of Bipolar II disorder, wherein the patient has hypomanic episodes interspersed with major depressive episodes. Additionally, all patients with Bipolar I disorder experience hypomania before progressing to full-blown mania.