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Trouble Understanding Mania; sort of getting it now.


WinterSky
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Well my pdoc finally called me. We covered a lot of ground and was very productive. I was diagnosed a year ago and it has been difficult to see it in me. I have just wanted to be sure and understand for myself. I have been reading about it here and other places and resources, but am now understanding it.

Things I now understand about the manic phase of Bipolar as it relates to me:

  • Mania is about dopamine not adrenaline; it is like adrenaline.
  • Stress can trigger mania but caffeine cannot.
  • Laughter is good and is better than being low, because low is much more difficult to work with.
  • Racing thoughts, insomnia, psychosis, talk loudly, talk rapidly, can't concentrate.
  • I have experienced a mixed feeling of depression and adrenaline (which is actually dopamine).

In the past, I have been confused between panic attacks and mania. I am more clear now. My experience with panic attacks:

intense fear, panic,
adrenaline
, heart racing, feeling lightheaded, shaking, dry mouth.

As I understand it, benzos can help both mania and panic attacks in the event of stress.

Anyone want to add from their own experiences?

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I completely understand what you mean. I suffer from hypo-mania, rather than mania (or so I'm told, whatever) and I feel like it took me a really long time to differentiate between mania and just being panicked or really upset.

But now I see, those nights I would lie in bed feeling like I couldn't breathe (racing thoughts, everything moving too slow, etc) ... probably panic attacks, whereas when I'm manic (or hypo-manic, whatever) I seem to lose the ability to recognize my symptoms. I feel great! It's only the next day or week or whenever I come back down that I can look back and say, "Oops." Often times my boyfriend will give me a look or even comment on say, my uncontrollable laughter or incessant talking, but to be honest I feel so great I just don't care.

Or are they both stages of mania? Just differing in severity?

What a trickster of a mental disorder. Seriously.

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Hi Dorothy! Dr. Schwartz and my own doctor both say that laughter is good for you.

Or are they both stages of mania? Just differing in severity?

They are two different things.

I understand that mania has to do with dopamine which feels like adrenaline. But is it not adrenaline with panic attacks? The anxiety and panic get so bad that the fear and adrenaline build up? I, too, get the symptom of having difficulty breathing, I forgot that one. :)

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Well, it's good to hear that laughter (regardless of why) is always a good thing.

I wonder what the "everything moving too slow" thing is? Do you know what I mean? I've been experiencing it since I was a kid. For example, I have a vivid memory of taking a test when I was younger, and being unable to fill the scantron in fast enough. It's like everything I do is in slow motion, but everything else (music at times, any noise, etc) is entirely too fast.

It's completely bizzare, and it wasn't until a few years ago that I connected it with manic depression. Or at least I hope it's connected with manic depression and there isn't anything else wrong with me as well :)

Maybe that's mania?

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Well, it's good to hear that laughter (regardless of why) is always a good thing.

I wonder what the "everything moving too slow" thing is? Do you know what I mean? I've been experiencing it since I was a kid. For example, I have a vivid memory of taking a test when I was younger, and being unable to fill the scantron in fast enough. It's like everything I do is in slow motion, but everything else (music at times, any noise, etc) is entirely too fast.

It's completely bizzare, and it wasn't until a few years ago that I connected it with manic depression. Or at least I hope it's connected with manic depression and there isn't anything else wrong with me as well :)

Maybe that's mania?

Hi Dorothy,

In 1996 I had psychological testing. During the written part I was extremely slow in finishing it and I was there all day. The psychologist said that it was fear. But back then I was diagnosed with major depression. (When I was 16 and older I do not think I had a diagnosis but was extremely depressed and on antidepressants. I had been told that I would only be on them temporarily.)

I am very detailed oriented. This can be either good or bad. When it is bad, then it takes forever for me to do anything or not at all. And when it is good, I am extremely efficient and cover all bases. It literally takes me at least an hour to fill out an employment application. Well that perhaps is more about how difficult it is for me to write than it is in my head as I really tense up and grip that writing utensil when I write, and my hand completely goes rigid. I can type much faster and my hands are relaxed. And time goes real fast on the computer and the time goes much slower when I am not on the computer.

What you are describing does not sound like a symptom of mania, but I am no expert. And I am not sure if what I communicated above has anything to do with bipolar either.

Perhaps what you are describing is not the same as what I have experienced? Regardless, I am a reasonably intelligent person. So I do not think this is an intelligence thing for me either. ;)

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Hi Dorothy & Wintersky

If I'm not wrong, I can relate to what Dorothy means? Regarding the slow motion process.

When I get up in the morning and I've had a brew & brekkie, I start to get ready. I get all my stuff ready that I know that I'm going to be using/need. Hairbrush, toothbrush with toothpaste on, bobbles for hair, clean clothes, underwear, shoes, moisterisers.

I sit ther and I must look at the clock a thousand times? I think to myself, right I'll move now and half an hour later all's I've done is brush my teeth. Then another half an hour later I might of brushed my hair? Before I know it, it's took me a couple of hours just to brush my teeth and comb my hair and maybe put clean underwear on. But you ask me how long it's took me to do all that, and I'd feel it has only took me a couple of minutes? I honestly don't know where the time has gone?

I hope I haven't interpretate that wrongly?

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Guest ASchwartz

Hi everyone,

Laughter is not a symptom of anything, not by itself. Of course, laughing when there is nothing to laugh at, and when it is inappropriate to laugh, can be a symptom of something. For example, laughing out loud at a tragic funeral where everyone is in tears and is weeping, well, that laughter can be symptomatic.

Hypomania is a low dose of mania. It's a toned down type of mania. The difference between that and full mania is the difference between an express train versus a runaway train. Hypmania speeds things up whereas a full blown mania becomes psychotic where the person can hear voices and/or do things that are very dangerous.

Allan :)

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I'll add to the confusion :) (not! hopefully)

On the subject of differentiating between a panic attack and mania. Panic attacks seldom feel good, but mania usually does, at least in the early stages of it. What the two situations have in common is that they are both characterized by heightened arousal in the body. In a panic attack, that is the arousal connected with fear, and having a panic attack usually feels like the world is ending and death is about to happen because your racing heart is about to explode. Mania is also about arousal, but it is usually more of the happy sexual exergetic flavor, again, at least in the early stages. Manic people may laugh out loud (because they feel so good), and they need less sleep, and their inhibitions become lowered so that their judgement isn't as good. Very manic people may act quite hedonistically, having sex with strangers, gambling away all life savings, taking drugs, etc. And as Allan has suggested, very very manic people can become psychotic and hear voices and become delusional. I recall a man who thought he was the angel Gabriel (for some reason, many psychotic people have religiously oriented delusions - probably becuase their experiences have a supernatural feeling to them and that is the best frame they have to make sense of such feelings).

Adrenaline is the name that people associate with the body chemical that causes arousal. it is a neurotransmitter (a brain chemical) and (if I'm not mistaken, also functions as a hormone (in the body rather than in the brain - I might be wrong about that last part, don't recall this AM). But what not everyone knows is that Adrenaline goes by several names, one of which is also Epinephrine. It's cousin, Norepinephrine (otherwise known as Noradrenaline) is also implicated in moods and arousal. Dopamine, Noradrenaline and Adrenaline are all implicated in arousal and I'm not sure that it is the simple case that Adrenaline is for panic attacks only and dopamine is for mania. these things all tend to work off each other. Not trusting my neurotransmitter knowledge this AM, but that is the foggy recollection I'm getting from my brain :)

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