New studies show nearly 40 percent of Americans classified as having major depression also experience brief and recurring bouts of manic behavior.
Many of these patients are described as having subthreshold hypomania, or a milder form of mania that may last less than four days and cannot be classified as bipolar disorder.
When experiencing hypomania, those affected may be more active or energetic than usual, sleep less than normal, and also become agitated easier than usual. This behavior differs from what is “normal” to the individual, but it may not be detrimental to their lifestyle.
For this study, researchers analyzed data from surveys of more than 5,000 United States households. Researchers discovered people with subthreshold hypomania experience increased rates of anxiety and substance abuse. These individuals also experience more depressive episodes than people who are depressed by do not show manic behavior. Additionally, these people were as likely to have family history of mania as those with bipolar disorder, which may suggest these individuals have a higher risk of having bipolar disorder at some point in time.
While these episodes of mania may be mild and last just three days or less, they are frequent. Researchers explained certain episodes of high energy are very natural, such as experiencing a happy moment in life or receiving good news.
Researchers encourage family and friends to be cautious if a loved one acts unlike themselves for two or three days, like spending an excessive amount of money or drinking more alcohol than they normally would, and then returning to their normal behavior.
Witnessing this behavior may be reason to suggest mental health evaluation before a serious condition may develop.
Although bipolar disease cannot be prevented, the consequences can be.