explaining postpartum depressionLast week Kimberly wrote about her experience with hypomania.  I heard from many of you who wanted more information about this, so I wanted to offer my understanding of the difference between hypomania and mania.  (Physician readers, I expect you to speak up if you have something to add or clarify!!)  If you experience these symptoms in the postpartum period, it may be that you have bipolar disorder that has presented in the postpartum period, and not postpartum depression.

You may have hypomania if you experience any combination of the following:

  • less need for sleep
  • feel more productive
  • feel a higher sense of well-being
  • feel euphoric, like you can do anything
  • feel very talkative (like you just can’t stop talking)
  • feel more irritable than usual
  • feel smarter, more sensual, more powerful and/or more creative
  • feel the need to participate in activities that may have negative consequences for you (sex, spending)

If you are suffering from mania, you may experience any combination of the following:

  • experience any of the above, but it begins to feel uncontrollable or becomes more severe
  • feel angry, confused and/or frightened
  • indulge in very reckless behaviors, for example serious overspending or reckless sexual activity
  • delusions or hallucinations

It is possible to start out experiencing hypomania and then cross into mania.

It’s pretty confusing to understand the difference between hypomania and mania because they are so very similar.  From what I understand, the major difference is in the severity of what you experience and how much it impacts your ability to function on a daily basis.  This is not something you should diagnose yourself.  Talk to a trained professional who can provide a proper diagnosis and discuss what path you should take forward.  Bipolar disorder is treatable, and just like any of the other illnesses we talk about at Postpartum Progress, it’s not your fault and you are not alone.  With help, you will be well.

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