Hypomania and mania

Explains hypomania and mania, including possible causes and how you can access treatment and support. Includes tips for helping yourself, and guidance for friends and family.

What causes hypomania and mania?

There isn't one single or clear-cut reason that someone may become hypomanic or manic. It seems to be a combination of long-term and short-term factors, which differ from person to person.

Possible causes of hypomania or mania include:

  • high levels of stress
  • changes in sleep patterns or lack of sleep
  • using recreational drugs or alcohol
  • seasonal changes – for example, some people are more likely to experience hypomania and mania in spring
  • a significant change in your life – moving house or going through a divorce, for example
  • childbirth (see our page on postpartum psychosis for more information)

"I have had three bad experiences of postnatal depression [and] I went into a religious mania."

"A typical hypomanic episode for me will begin by a night of hardly any sleep, maybe two to three hours, then the next night I probably won’t sleep at all."

See our pages on bipolar disorder, seasonal affective disorder (SAD)schizoaffective disorder and postpartum psychosis for more information about the causes of these conditions.

As a side effect of medication

Some medications can cause hypomania or mania as a side effect, either while you are taking them or as a withdrawal symptom when you stop.

This includes medications for physical conditions and psychiatric medications – including some antidepressants.

If you’re concerned about the effects of any medication you're taking or have stopped taking, it’s important to discuss it with your doctor.

"I had 10 years living with dysmorphia and was eventually treated with antidepressants and became flirty, flighty, promiscuous, argumentative and aggressive. When I stopped the treatment, I no longer experienced these traits."

As a side effect of a physical illness or neurological condition

Some physical illnesses and neurological conditions can cause hypomania and mania, including lupus, encephalitis, dementia, brain injury, brain tumours and stroke. To make sure you get the correct treatment, your doctor should always check whether there might be a physical cause for your hypomania/mania before you are diagnosed. 

This information was published in January 2020. We will revise it in 2023.

References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.

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