What is Hypomania? Understanding the Causes and Symptoms of Hypomania.

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What is Hypomania?

The elevated mood state may or may not be apparent to others, and individuals experiencing hypomania may lack insight into what they are experiencing. To be considered hypomanic, an individual must have symptoms present for three out of four days. It is important to note that the presence of hypomania does not necessarily mean an individual has a mental illness. Hypomania may, however, be a symptom of a mood disorder or put an individual at risk of developing a mood disorder.

Causes of Hypomania

  • Genetic susceptibility and heritability. Although the research conducted on hypomania and its links with heritability and genetics is not extensive, associations have been found among mood disorders related to hypomania. This was supported by research conducted by Kieseppä et al. and published in the American Journal of Psychology. They found that individuals who have an identical twin diagnosed with bipolar disorder had a higher likelihood of developing it when compared to individuals who have a non identical twin who is bipolar.
  • Environmental stressors such as bereavement and loss of employment.
  • Dramatic changes in lifestyle such as too little sleep or a change in schedule.
  • Physical, sexual or emotional trauma or abuse.
  • Illnesses such as thyroid dysfunction and cortisol imbalances.
  • Sensory overload. Hypomania can be induced in sensitive individuals as a response to situations like crowds and gatherings and loud music or noise.
  • Drug use. Hypomania may also be induced inadvertently through some medications such as anti-depressants, by stopping some medications, or intentionally induced through the use of recreational drugs. Stimulants such as caffeine may also induce hypomania in sensitive individuals.

Symptoms of Hypomania

  • Inflated self-esteem and grandiose thoughts.
  • Increased creativity and productivity.
  • Racing thoughts.
  • Increase in physical and/or goal-directed activity.
  • Elevated mood states such as cheerfulness, optimism and/or happiness. This may not be in response to a stimulus and may persist despite hearing bad news or being in adverse circumstances.
  • Increased irritability. Irritability may be irrational or overblown in response to relatively minor things.
  • Decreased inhibition and psychological impairment. This may result in impulsive or reckless behavior such as gambling, shoplifting, promiscuity and other risky behavior. Individuals experiencing hypomania are at an increased risk of substance abuse problems and may consume excessive amounts of alcohol.
  • Decreased need for sleep. Individuals with hypomania may still feel rested.
  • Increased energy.

Hypomania and Mental Illness

Although individuals experiencing hypomania do not necessarily have a mental illness, hypomania can be a symptom of mood disorders such as cyclothymia and bipolar disorder. Previously known as manic depression, bipolar disorder is characterized by alternating periods of depression and intense highs known as mania. Hypomania is a symptom of Bipolar II disorder. Cyclothymia is a milder form of bipolar disorder which involves periods of hypomania and depressive symptoms.

Hypomania may also act as a precursor to the more severe mood state mania. It can progress into mania or cycle into depression if not treated. Individuals without a mental illness who experience hypomania are therefore at risk of developing mental illness.


Bjorn, Meyer, Ruji, Rahman, & Shepherd, Robin. “Hypomanic Personality Features and Addictive Tendencies”, https://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=18486007

Benazzi, Franco. “Bipolar: Family History of the Hypomanic Symptoms and Dimensions of Mixed Depression”, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16275206

KnowingBipolarDisorder.com: https://knowingbipolardisorder.com/2010/11/high-energy-level-of-mania-and-hypomania-symptoms/

Kieseppä T, Partonen T, Haukka J, Kaprio J, & Lönnqvist J. “High Concordance of Bipolar I Disorder in a Nationwide Sample of Twins”, https://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/abstract/161/10/1814

Benaz, F. “Antidepressant-Associated Hypomania in Outpatient Depression: A 203-case Study in Private Practice”, https://www.jad-journal.com/article/S0165-0327%2897%2900082-7/abstract

Mirin, S. M., Schatzberg, A. F., & Creasey, D. E. “Hypomania and Mania after Withdrawal of Tricyclic Antidepressants”, https://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/abstract/138/1/87