Hypomania and Other Bipolar Symptoms May Increase in Spring and Summer

Spring brings allergies, fever—and for those with bipolar disorder, an increased likelihood of an episode.

A 2013 research study, published in the journal Bipolar Disorder, found that hospital admissions peaked in the spring for those with bipolar experiencing depression. Those in the mania phase were more likely to experience episodes in the spring and summer. The researchers were unable to determine if there were seasonal patterns within the psychopathology of bipolar disorder.

Recently, though, a psychotherapist specializing in working with patients with bipolar disorder detailed what he sees in his practice with the end of daylight savings time.

“The extra daylight, the lifting of winter’s gloom and the experience of again being outside in the bright, fresh, springtime air, all serve to activate bipolar neurochemistry,” Russ Federman wrote in Psychology Today. “Not only is springtime arriving on the scene, but potentially so is hypomania.”

Hypomania can be defined as increases in:

  • Confidence/assertiveness
  • Increased/unrealistic activities
  • Energy
  • Racing thoughts
  • Distractions and irritability
  • Hypersexuality
  • Talkativeness

Typically, at least three of these will be present for a period of at least four days. The mood will be prevailing for most of the day, nearly every day.

Unlike a full-blown manic episode, hypomania does not include psychotic episodes. Those in the hypomania phase can function normally in social settings and can continue to work.

Those who never experience mania—but do experience hypomania—are more likely to be diagnosed with Bipolar II Disorder. Like those with Bipolar I Disorder, those episodes will alternate with depressive episodes. Those who have hypomania and mild depression for at least two years may be diagnosed with cyclothymic disorder.

Regardless of the type of bipolar disorder, all can be treated and managed with a combination of medication and psychotherapy.

 

 


Sources:
Bipolar Disorder https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3731411/
Psychology Today  https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/bipolar-you/201103/spring-has-sprung-and-so-might-your-hypomania
National Alliance of Mental Illness http://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Bipolar-Disorder

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