The easiest method for thinking about what constitutes a hypomanic state is to think of most, if not all, of the symptoms of a manic state in a very attenuated (milder) form. A hypomanic person will have extra energy that is almost unstoppable and will function on very little sleep, just as would someone manic. They are just as likely to exhibit pressured speech, a grandiose vision of life and their expectations of it, and may be overly boisterous, loud, meddlesome and opinionated. The key to understanding the difference between a hypomanic state and a normally up or happy mood is to determine how different from the person's, until then, "known" mood would be from the ebullient mood you are currently seeing. 


If the mood seems exceptional in the sense that the person just seems to be a stranger, so outgoing or gregarious do they become, then one can begin to suspect hypomania. If the hypomania continues unabated and indeed begins to escalate over a period of days or weeks one can almost certainly see the beginnings of the emergence of a truly manic state. Little sleep may become no need for sleep at all, boisterousness may become argumentative or even aggressive or violent behaviour, slightly grandiose visions of the future may become blatantly bizarre and disjointed. My husband's favourite way of putting this transition is that he gets worried when I move from just talking animatedly about taking over the world, to actually heading out the door with a plane ticket in hand, destination a foreign land. Seriously though, when the thoughts are moving too fast, the person becomes easily distracted, sometimes spends heaps of money and may even hallucinate and suffer serious delusions, then you can say you are definitely seeing someone in a true manic state...otherwise, it is only hypomania.


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