Mania is a state of abnormally elevated arousal, affect, and energy level, or "a state of heightened overall activation with enhanced affective expression together with lability of affect." Although mania is often conceived as a "mirror image" to depression, the heightened mood can be either euphoric or irritable; indeed, as the mania intensifies, irritability can be more pronounced and result in violence.
The nosology of the various stages of a manic episode has changed over the decades. The word derives from the Greek μανία (mania), "madness, frenzy" and the verb μαίνομαι (mainomai), "to be mad, to rage, to be furious".
The symptoms of mania are the following: heightened mood (either euphoric or irritable); flight of ideas and pressure of speech; and increased energy, decreased need for sleep, and hyperactivity. They are most plainly evident in fully developed hypomanic states; in full-blown mania, however, they undergo progressively severe exacerbations and become more and more obscured by other signs and symptoms, such as delusions and fragmentation of behavior.
Mania is a syndrome of multiple causes. Although the vast majority of cases occur in the context of bipolar disorder, it is a key component of other psychiatric disorders (as schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type) and may also occur secondary to various general medical conditions, as multiple sclerosis; certain medications, as prednisone; or certain substances of abuse, as cocaine or anabolic steroids. In current DSM-5 nomenclature, hypomanic episodes are separated from the more severe full manic episodes, which, in turn, are characterized as either mild, moderate, or severe, with specifiers with regard to certain symptomatic features (e.g. catatonia, psychosis). Mania, however, may be divided into three stages: hypomania, or stage I; acute mania, or stage II; and delirious mania, or stage III. This "staging" of a manic episode is, in particular, very useful from a descriptive and differential diagnostic point of view.
Mania varies in intensity, from mild mania (hypomania) to delirious mania, marked by such symptoms as disorientation, florid psychosis, incoherence, and catatonia. Standardized tools such as Altman Self-Rating Mania Scale and Young Mania Rating Scale can be used to measure severity of manic episodes. Because mania and hypomania have also long been associated with creativity and artistic talent, it is not always the case that the clearly manic bipolar person needs or wants medical help; such persons often either retain sufficient self-control to function normally or are unaware that they have "gone manic" severely enough to be committed or to commit themselves. Manic persons often can be mistaken for being on drugs.
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