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Updated June 18, 2014

Definition: Hypomania, or a hypomanic episode, is defined by the 4th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) as a distinct period of abnormally and persistently elevated, expansive, or irritable mood lasting at least 4 days that is clearly different from the individual's usual, nondepressed mood. During a hypomanic episode, three or more of the following (four if the mood is irritable only) must be present:

  • inflated self-esteem or grandiosity

  • decreased need for sleep (e.g., feeling rested after only 3 hours of sleep)

  • more talkative than usual or feeling pressure to keep talking

  • racing thoughts or thoughts that seem to jump from topic to topic

  • distractibility (e.g., attention is easily drawn to unimportant details)

  • increased goal-directed activity (either socially, at school or work, or sexually) or psychomotor agitation

  • excessive involvement in pleasurable activities that have a high potential for negative consequences (e.g., going on buying sprees, foolish business investments, promiscuous sex).

To meet the criteria for hypomania, these symptoms must be associated with a clear change in functioning, and the mood change and change in functioning must be observable by others in the person's life. Also, these episodes must not be severe enough to warrant hospitalization or to cause marked impairment in social or work functioning, must not be associated with psychotic symptoms, and must not be due to the effects of a substance or general medical condition.

Hypomania is very similar to mania except that it is generally less severe and can be of shorter duration.

Pronunciation: HIPE-oh-main-ee-ah
Also Known As: hypomanic episode
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