Feeling overwhelmed and tearful

How to Deal With Feeling Emotionally Overwhelmed

Updated on 2/10/2022

When you experience emotional overwhelm, it can feel all-consuming. Many people will end up feeling overwhelmed at some point in their lives. It entails being completely overcome by an unruly and intense emotion that something is too challenging to manage and overcome. 

When confronted with being overwhelmed, it can be difficult to think and act rationally, and even function in a normal way. Needless to say, the experience of this overwhelmed feeling is uncomfortable and the causes and effects can span across your personal and professional life.

In this article, we’ll discuss what can cause you to feel overwhelmed, how to recognize it, and things you can do to prevent or stop it.

What Causes Emotional Overwhelm?

When a person believes the stressors are far too great to manage, they become overwhelmed — which means that any number of causes are possible.

What it means to be overwhelmed

Emotional overwhelm entails more than being stressed. By definition being emotionally overwhelmed means to be completely submerged by your thoughts and emotions about all of life’s current problems, to the point where you lack productivity and feel frozen or paralyzed. 

Compare the feeling of being overwhelmed to being submerged after a rough wave. It’s a scary experience, you may not know which way is up or what way to swim, you may feel stunned and unable to react. You may be unable to think or act rationally or functionally and emotional overwhelm may impact your relationships or professional life. 

Common reasons for feeling overwhelmed

Whether brought on by exceptionally stressful time at work, a traumatic personal experience like losing a loved one, or another inciting factor, emotional overwhelm can occur for a short burst of time or over a much longer period. Sometimes, a series of hardships and challenges occurring in rapid succession can trigger someone to feel overcome by unwieldy emotions. Common experiences that can lead to emotional overwhelm can include:

  • Relationship issues
  • Physical or mental health illness
  • A demanding job
  • Lack of nutrition
  • Financial distress and insecurity
  • Significant life changes
  • Time constraints
  • Death of a loved one
  • Personal traumas such as abuse
  • Habitual lack of sleep

Symptoms of Feeling Overwhelmed

When a person is experiencing an overwhelming feeling, it can take shape in a variety of ways. In each instance, a person is generally more likely to be overwhelmed by negative emotions — anger, fear, anxiety, or guilt — and it is often difficult to understand and verbalize the exact source of the stress. The reason a person’s physiology responds so strongly to these negative feelings is the release of cortisol, the “stress hormone.” When you begin to feel overwhelmed, cortisol surges through your body and leaves you overloaded with intense emotion and anxiety. At the same time, our serotonin stores, the chemical that helps our bodies fight off depression and anxiety, start to deplete. 

This combination causes the intense feeling of total despair associated with being overwhelmed. Often, overwhelm is as uncomfortable as it is uncontrollable. It rears its head as anxiety, anger, or significant irritability and worry. Doubt and helplessness also make their way into a person’s normal thought process. Physically, it can manifest when a person lashes out verbally, cries, or has a panic attack. These negative feelings are often paired with a quickened heartbeat, perspiration, shortness of breath, or even chest pain.

Why we cry when we’re overwhelmed

Some people report crying when feeling overwhelmed. It is ok to cry! Everyone does it, but some more than others. A study showed that women cry 30-64 times a year, while men cry 5-17 times per year. However, this gender difference highlights how crying has been unfairly stigmatized for men to signify a sign of weakness. Therefore, these results are likely inaccurately reported. 

Crying is a healthy way to express our inner emotions, it even helps us to better understand ourselves. It has many positive effects and can decrease feelings of stress, often leaving us with a cathartic feeling. You should speak to your doctor if you feel like you cry an inordinate amount, that you’re inconsolable, or if crying interferes with your daily life. If that is the case, crying might be indicative of an underlying mood disorder such as depression, or another mental health condition like anxiety. An online mental health screening test can help you learn whether there’s an underlying condition at play so that you can begin to seek treatment.

How to Prevent & Stop Feeling Overwhelmed

No matter the reason, if you feel the onset of overwhelm, there are some ways to help address the emotions both on your own and by leveraging outside support.

1. Accept the anxious feelings

Fighting off all-consuming emotions likely doesn’t do much to ease them in a particularly anxious moment. Try to remember that anxiety, to a certain degree, is a “normal” part of the human experience and use acceptance as a tool to work through those uncomfortable feelings (when possible). 

“It is important to remember that you have the capacity to ride these waves of feelings – they have a beginning, a middle and an end, and fighting our feelings will not help. I like to talk with my clients about picturing riding the waves at the beach; while you might not end up right in front of your beach chair and towel, once you ride the wave of that feeling, you will end up back on the beach.”

Talkspace therapist Jill E. Daino, LCSW-R

2. Reverse your overwhelmed thought processes

Feelings of unpredictability and complete despair fuel overwhelm. Those negative  thoughts build up anxiety and can cause a person significant distress. Stop those damaging thoughts before they become habitual ruminations by honestly asking yourself if that way of thinking is unreasonable or unhelpful. At the same time, try to find alternative, more positive thoughts.

3. Take some deep breaths

There are plenty of grounding techniques you can use when feeling overwhelmed that involve deep breathing exercises. When you consciously try deep breathing, it triggers your body’s relaxation response and can come in handy during particularly stressful situations. Additionally, practicing yoga, meditation, and progressive muscle relaxation can help calm your body’s response to anxiety, as each exercise helps you to focus your breath.

“One thing that is particularly helpful is to practice these techniques when you are not feeling overwhelmed. These strategies are like building a muscle, and are easier to use the more you practice. I have found that when you practice grounding techniques in non stressful moments, they are much easier to use when you need them in times of stress and intense emotion. While it may seem simple, even a short time of focused breathing can have a significant impact on how you are feeling and thinking.

Talkspace therapist Jill E. Daino, LCSW-R

4. Be in the moment

If your thinking is focused on what the future holds — whether in a few minutes or several years down the road — it may make you more susceptible to becoming overwhelmed. Think about one moment, task, and experience at a time, in the present moment, to help remove the possibility of uncontrollable thoughts that may or may not come about.

5. Know your resources

Besides breathing exercises and meditation techniques to help prevent overwhelm, there is plenty of scientific research available about how stress and anxiety impact our cognitive abilities. To strengthen your ability to manage those feelings, discover what studies and recommendations resonate with you by using online search tools or online therapy.

How Therapy Can Help When Feeling Overwhelmed

When you are not able to prevent overwhelming thoughts or feelings, therapy is a helpful way to address your response to them. In therapy, a qualified mental health professional is able to help you sort through the issues causing your stress or anxiety and better understand its root causes. When you gain a solid understanding of what stressors and stressful situations trigger this uncomfortable mental state, it helps cultivate a calmer frame of mind in the future. 

When looking for the right type of therapy to manage overwhelming experiences, there are different types of practices to consider: 

  • Meditation
  • Hypnosis
  • Centering techniques (to help teach people to soothe themselves during times of distress)
  • Journal therapy 
  • Physical exercise

While there is no way to determine what life has in store at any given moment, there are ways to build up the mental strength to better take on life’s challenges and build resiliency. When you take time to learn what triggers stress and anxious thoughts, you can better manage overwhelming experiences before they occur. With the right tools and hard work, you can help minimize the occurrence and impact of becoming overwhelmed.

Talkspace articles are written by experienced mental health-wellness contributors; they are grounded in scientific research and evidence-based practices. Articles are extensively reviewed by our team of clinical experts (therapists and psychiatrists of various specialties) to ensure content is accurate and on par with current industry standards.

Our goal at Talkspace is to provide the most up-to-date, valuable, and objective information on mental health-related topics in order to help readers make informed decisions.

Articles contain trusted third-party sources that are either directly linked to in the text or listed at the bottom to take readers directly to the source.

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How to Take Care of Yourself When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed

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By Mental Health First Aid USA on March 17, 2021

Let’s get real: there are times in life when you’re going to feel overwhelmed. Whether it be with work, school, social obligations or just life in general, we all feel overwhelmed, anxious, or stressed at some point. It’s important to give yourself grace when you have these feelings. Try not to brush them off or push through whatever is causing you to feel anxious – your mental health matters and if you’re feeling the squeeze, understand that you can take a step back.

We understand that recent events along with the COVID-19 pandemic have made things complicated, and it can be difficult to juggle all of your responsibilities at the same time. When you’re starting to feel overwhelmed, remember that you can always revisit your self-care plan. Self-care plans are personal, which can be just the thing for when things feel like too much. Try some of these tips when you’re feeling overwhelmed:

  1. Take a deep breath and step away. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or anxious, a quick way to begin to alleviate those feelings is by doing breathing exercises. If the thing that’s overwhelming you is in front of you, try taking a step away from it to create some separation between you and whatever is making you feel this way. Deep breathing exercises are a great way to promote relaxation and lower your stress response. Need some breathing exercise guidance? We’ve got you covered.
  2. Create a “no” list. Protecting your time and space can help give you a sense of control over your schedule. If you don’t want to do something or have been dreading that virtual happy hour, don’t feel like you have to go. Replace the activities you don’t want to do with something that you’ll enjoy. Healthy boundaries are crucial for your wellbeing!
  3. Be kind to yourself. Remember that feeling overwhelmed is OK, especially now. It also helps to remember that feeling overwhelmed doesn’t have to last. Give yourself some grace – if you don’t get to that chore or have to ask for an extension at work, you can. Your mental health should be a top priority.
  4. Ask for help from a loved one. Your social support network is there for you to lean on if you need to vent or talk things through. Reach out to a friend for a virtual chat or pick up the phone and call a family member.
  5. Write it out. Writing down why you feel overwhelmed or anxious is another great way to help alleviate those feelings. It helps to do this unstructured – having a written stream of consciousness allows you to express yourself freely and getting those thoughts out of your head will be a relief.

If you need more inspiration, take a look at this extensive list from Upworthy containing 101 things to try if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Remember that the feelings you’re having are temporary and with the right coping mechanisms and support, you can take care of yourself when things feel overwhelming.

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) can also help – here are some blogs to read if you or a loved one is feeling anxious or stressed and needs some support:

  1. How to Help Someone With Anxiety
  2. 4 Self-care Tips for How to Deal with Anxiety
  3. How to Create Your Own Self-Care Plan
  4. Five Ways to Support a Loved One with Anxiety or Depression



Kelly, M. (2021, February 11). 10 easy breathing exercises for anxiety. Verywell Health. https://www.verywellhealth.com/breathing-exercises-for-anxiety-5088091.

MHFA. (2020). Mental Health First Aid USA for Adults Assisting Adults. Washington, DC: National Council for Mental Wellbeing.

Wright, A. (2016, June 20). 101 ways to take care of yourself when the world feels overwhelming. Upworthy. https://www.upworthy.com/101-self-care-suggestions-for-when-it-all-feels-like-too-much.

Get the latest MHFA blogs, news and updates delivered directly to your inbox so you never miss a post.

Tearfulness - causes, diagnosis and treatment

General characteristics

Crying is a psychophysiological reaction, which is accompanied by the release of tears, a sharp change in the rhythm of breathing, blood pressure and heartbeat, involuntary contraction of the superciliary and extraocular muscles. By origin, it is a strong momentary mental experience that occurs in response to intense negative or positive stimuli. From a social point of view, crying is a way of expressing strong emotions. In childhood, physical pain is a common cause of tears. As they grow older, this reaction weakens, but may persist in women with increased emotional lability. nine0005

The term “tearfulness” refers to a character trait or temporary feature of the emotional-volitional sphere. It is manifested by emotional imbalance, tearfulness: a person cries every day, random memories, a tense conversation, an unpleasant intonation of the interlocutor, a scene from a movie become the cause of tears. Often, tearfulness reduces social activity, prevents the maintenance of close relationships, provokes irritability, misunderstanding on the part of others.

Tearfulness is more common in women and children than in men. This is due to biological reasons: women have more pronounced hormonal fluctuations (pregnancy, childbirth, menstrual cycle), children have a labile nervous system, so they easily get excited even to minor stimuli. Cultural factors also contribute to increased tearfulness in women compared to men. Sensitivity and tearfulness are recognized as feminine traits, men's tears are evaluated as a demonstration of weakness. nine0005

Causes of tearfulness

Tearfulness is often a symptom of a mental disorder - depression or neurasthenia. In addition, it can be caused by hormonal changes, diseases of the central nervous system, overwork or chronic stress. The causes of tearfulness are diverse, often tearfulness is provoked by external events, but has a physiological basis.

Predisposing Physiological Factors

Some people are said to have been weepy since childhood, while others are said to never cry. Tearfulness most often develops on the basis of a physiological predisposition, which consists of the characteristics of the functioning of the nervous system, the rate of production of certain hormones. Increased tearfulness is due to the following reasons:

  • Nervous system instability. In an unstable type of nervous activity, the processes of excitation and inhibition quickly replace each other, which outwardly manifests itself in frequent mood swings, sudden emotional outbursts. People with this feature by type of temperament are classified as melancholic or choleric. For them, tearfulness is characteristic from birth.
  • Hormonal imbalance. Irritability, tearfulness increase during periods of hormonal changes in the body in women: during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, menopause, after childbirth. The increased production of some hormones and the lack of others lead to a change in the activity of the brain regions responsible for the emotional state. nine0022
  • Physical overload. When the body is unprepared, intensive sports or hard physical labor are a source of stress, disrupt the functioning of internal organs and systems. If it is impossible to fully restore strength, tearfulness and irritability increase, fatigue accumulates. Gradually, a state of exhaustion develops.
  • Vitamin deficiency. The cause of tearfulness in malnutrition is a lack of B vitamins. They are responsible for the functioning of the nervous system, hormone production, skin condition, muscle tone. With their deficiency, irritability increases, mood and performance decrease, insomnia develops, and appetite worsens. With prolonged hypovitaminosis, depression, neurosis, hormonal disorders, and Beri-Beri disease are formed. nine0022

Psychological factors

The psychological causes of tearfulness include personality traits formed in the process of life, and external stressful psychotraumatic effects. Depending on this, people who are tearful in character are distinguished, and those who have excessive tearfulness due to the current difficult situation. The most obvious reasons for tearfulness are:

  • Peculiarities of upbringing. The reason for the child's tearfulness is the attitude of the parents. Sometimes crying becomes a tool to get the attention of adults and get what you want. If parents do everything to stop tears - buy toys, allow them not to go home from a walk, not to wash - the child develops hysterical character traits. Another reason for tearfulness is self-doubt, fears, a feeling of uselessness. This type of character is called neurotic. With insufficient love and support from parents, tearfulness intensifies. nine0022
  • Stress. Negative experiences caused by a traumatic situation or daily minor troubles can lead to a state of stress. At the initial stages, the body fights, activates physiological and mental reserves. Thanks to this, a person retains his former working capacity and emotional balance. Then comes the stage of exhaustion - the body gets tired of fighting, and adverse effects continue. At the physiological level, this is manifested by headaches and general malaise, at the psychological level - by tearfulness, irritability, and depression. nine0022
  • Routine. Not only stress can lead to nervous exhaustion, but also the routine of everyday life. In situations of monotonous work with repetitive stereotyped actions and a depleted external environment, efficiency decreases. Monotony is accompanied by an experience of boredom, apathy and dissatisfaction with life, tearfulness. Women are especially susceptible to emotional disturbances. Their tearfulness increases in the absence of friendly communication and a variety of leisure activities. nine0022

Psychiatric disorders

Tearfulness and increased tearfulness develop in some mental disorders. All of them are accompanied by a decrease in the adaptive abilities of the body, fatigue, depression, instability of emotions. Patients cry often, do not always have an external reason for tears, do not control their condition. Tearfulness may be a symptom of the following disorders:

  • Depression. In depressive disorders, patients are almost constantly in a state of low mood, sadness, sadness. They have no interest in what is happening, so it is difficult to distract and cheer them up. Tears and crying appear easily, often without external causes. nine0022
  • Astheno-neurotic syndrome. Neurasthenia occurs when a combination of traumatic effects and intense physical or mental stress. A provoking factor can be chronic lack of sleep, emotional burnout. It is manifested by irritability, easy fatigue, tearfulness.
  • PTSD. Sometimes inexplicable tearfulness is a symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder. Sudden tears are triggered by memories of horrific scenes and traumatic events from the past. Images pop up in the head involuntarily, in a dream and in reality, when the environment is somewhat reminiscent of a long-standing situation (the same smell, sound, phrase). nine0022
  • Generalized anxiety disorder. Causes of tearfulness in patients with anxiety disorder - constant anxiety, fear, obsessive thoughts, sleep disorders. With a long course of this pathology, panic attacks occur with vegetative crises (dizziness, respiratory disorders, palpitations). Tearfulness becomes even more noticeable, especially in women.
  • Children's fears. A characteristic feature of childhood is the ease with which fears arise. They are formed under the influence of external situational influences, provoke the development of neurotic reactions, including crying. The cause of fear in infants, young children is the care of the mother. The more often the mother is absent, the more whiny the child becomes. Similarly, tearfulness in kindergarten develops with fear of strangers. nine0022

Somatic diseases

Frequent causes of tearfulness are physical illnesses. Frequent crying may indicate a change in brain function, a pronounced hormonal imbalance. A more obvious connection is also possible: people cry when they are in pain, worry about the irreversible deterioration of their health and appearance. There are several somatic causes of tearfulness:

  • Decreased quality of life. Severe illnesses are characterized by limited mobility, deterioration of well-being, changes in the appearance of the patient. Often, patients are forced to abandon their usual physical activity and communication, performing professional duties, and eating their favorite foods. Such a state may be accompanied by reactive depression - crying, experiencing feelings of hopelessness, depression, uselessness. nine0022
  • Pain syndrome. The feeling of frequent or constant pain is the cause of tearfulness in somatic patients, especially children. Physical suffering is manifested by a decrease in the patient's activity, fixation on the sensations coming from the body, depression and irritability.
  • Organic brain damage. Tearfulness is caused by damage to nerve cells in the brain regions responsible for the formation of emotions and behavior. An example of such a disorder is "weakness", the tearfulness of the elderly with Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, atherosclerosis, multiple sclerosis. Similar emotional disorders are possible with brain tumors, neuroinfections, after traumatic brain injuries. nine0022
  • Endocrine diseases. Emotions are affected by such endocrine pathologies as hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, diabetes mellitus, Addison's disease. Lack or excess of certain hormones causes sudden bursts of irritability, anger, crying. As a rule, patients notice them, but cannot explain the reason.


Determination of the causes of tearfulness is carried out by specialists from different fields - psychiatrists, neurologists, endocrinologists. Primary diagnosis is carried out by clinical methods, including a survey of the patient and his relatives, as well as observation of behavior. In most cases, patients are able to critically evaluate their experiences, so they themselves report frequent crying, emotional sensitivity, mood swings, and other symptoms to the doctor. A conversation with relatives helps to clarify the duration of the symptom, its causes. To establish the etiology of tearfulness is used:

  • Study of the emotional sphere of personality. Comprehensive psychodiagnostic testing allows you to determine the presence of depression, the leading character traits and personality traits that are the basis of tearfulness. Various questionnaires are used (MMMPI, Cattell's questionnaire) and projective methods (color choice test, drawing of a person).
  • Laboratory studies of hormones. If a conversation with a patient does not reveal the psychological causes of tearfulness, but there are signs of an endocrine disease, a blood test for hormone levels is performed. The concentration of hormones of the adrenal glands, thyroid, pancreas, parathyroid and / or gonads is being studied. nine0022
  • Instrumental research of the brain. If the patient complains of emotional disturbances and there are signs of organic damage to the central nervous system, a neurological examination, CT and MRI of the brain, ultrasound of the vessels of the brain and other diagnostic procedures are performed. The results make it possible to determine pathological changes in cerebral structures and tissues.


The main therapy should be aimed at eliminating the cause of tearfulness - reducing the intensity of stress, normalizing the hormonal background of a woman, changing the style of education. If it is impossible to influence the etiological factor or the impact on the cause requires long-term labor-intensive treatment, symptomatic agents are used. Thanks to them, tearfulness decreases, the patient becomes more balanced and socially active, and the effectiveness of basic therapy increases. Symptomatic help for tearfulness includes breathing exercises, psychotherapy, drug treatment, and changing the mode of activity. nine0005

Yoga is a great way to find peace of mind

Breathing exercises

At the level of physiology, crying is manifested by a complex of reactions of the respiratory, cardiovascular and nervous systems. A person is able to voluntarily control breathing. To stop the beginning attack of crying, it is necessary to eliminate the feeling of spasm in the throat and holding the breath. The easiest way to do this is with breathing exercises, which include slow and deep breathing, deep breaths through the nose with a noisy exhalation through the mouth, fast and intense breathing. The most effective method is selected by the patient individually by trial method. In women, the technique of diaphragmatic breathing gives a good result. nine0005

Behavioral psychotherapy

Behavioral techniques are aimed at switching attention, changing the external activity that supports crying. The simplest exercises are running, purposeful activity, provoking another emotion (anger or joy). During running, a sequence of movements is established, muscles contract rhythmically, breathing intensifies - all these processes prevent crying.

Specially created purposefulness of actions switches attention from sad and sad thoughts to the solution of the problem. Distraction options - looking for keys in a bag, making a shopping list. It can be difficult to provoke anger or joy on your own, but with training, such a skill is developed. It is necessary to remember a funny or angry situation and the people who participated in it, to reproduce the images in your thoughts as detailed as possible. nine0005

Transactional analysis

Transactional analysis psychotherapy is a more sophisticated way to deal with tearfulness. According to this direction, the personality of a person is represented by three states - Adult, Parent and Child. Tearfulness is most characteristic of the latter, since the conscious and subconscious experience of childhood is stored in crying. In psychotherapy sessions, the patient is taught to remain in the position of the Adult, analyze situations and make decisions, not allowing emotions to determine behavior. At the same time, attention shifts from the experiences of the past and the future to the state of “here and now”. nine0005

Medical therapy

Medications can be used to control tearfulness. Their selection is carried out by a psychiatrist or psychotherapist, depending on the combination of symptoms. If tearfulness manifests itself along with anxiety and increased irritability, anxiolytics, sedatives, and herbal sedatives are prescribed. For nervous exhaustion and signs of depression, antidepressants and tranquilizers are used, for sleep disorders - sleeping pills. nine0005

Normalization of the daily routine

The basic cause of tearfulness is the instability of the processes of inhibition and excitation in the nervous system, therefore, in order to maintain emotional balance, it is necessary to adhere to the correct regimen. The most important is a full sleep of at least 8 hours at night, regular exposure to fresh air, alternation of mental and physical labor. Patients are encouraged to make a plan for the day and for the week, be sure to include walking, hobbies and sports that bring pleasure. nine0005

Bipolar disorder | Symptoms, complications, diagnosis and treatment

Bipolar disorder, formerly called manic depression, is a mental health condition that causes extreme mood swings that include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression). Episodes of mood swings may occur infrequently or several times a year.

When you become depressed, you may feel sad or hopeless and lose interest or pleasure in most activities. When the mood shifts to mania or hypomania (less extreme than mania), you may feel euphoric, full of energy or unusually irritable. These mood swings can affect sleep, energy, alertness, judgment, behavior, and the ability to think clearly. nine0005

Although bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition, you can manage your mood swings and other symptoms by following a treatment plan. In most cases, bipolar disorder is treated with medication and psychological counseling (psychotherapy).


There are several types of bipolar and related disorders. These may include mania, hypomania, and depression. The symptoms can lead to unpredictable changes in mood and behavior, leading to significant stress and difficulty in life. nine0005

  • Bipolar I. You have had at least one manic episode, which may be preceded or accompanied by hypomanic or major depressive episodes. In some cases, mania can cause a break with reality (psychosis).
  • Bipolar disorder II. You have had at least one major depressive episode and at least one hypomanic episode, but never had a manic episode.
  • nine0019 Cyclothymic disorder. You have had at least two years - or one year in children and adolescents - many periods of hypomanic symptoms and periods of depressive symptoms (though less severe than major depression).
  • Other types. These include, for example, bipolar and related disorders caused by certain drugs or alcohol or due to health conditions such as Cushing's disease, multiple sclerosis, or stroke. nine0022

Bipolar II is not a milder form of Bipolar I but is a separate diagnosis. Although bipolar I manic episodes can be severe and dangerous, people with bipolar II can be depressed for longer periods of time, which can cause significant impairment.

Although bipolar disorder can occur at any age, it is usually diagnosed in adolescence or early twenties. Symptoms can vary from person to person, and symptoms can change over time. nine0005

Mania and hypomania

Mania and hypomania are two different types of episodes, but they share the same symptoms. Mania is more pronounced than hypomania and causes more noticeable problems at work, school, and social activities, as well as relationship difficulties. Mania can also cause a break with reality (psychosis) and require hospitalization.

Both a manic episode and a hypomanic episode include three or more of these symptoms:

  • Abnormally optimistic or nervous
  • Increased activity, energy or excitement
  • Exaggerated sense of well-being and self-confidence (euphoria)
  • Reduced need for sleep
  • Unusual talkativeness
  • Distractibility
  • Poor decision-making - for example, in speculation, in sexual encounters or in irrational investments

Major depressive episode

A major depressive episode includes symptoms that are severe enough to cause noticeable difficulty in daily activities such as work, school, social activities, or relationships. Episode includes five or more of these symptoms:

  • Depressed mood, such as feeling sad, empty, hopeless, or tearful (in children and adolescents, depressed mood may present as irritability)
  • Marked loss of interest or feeling of displeasure in all (or nearly all) activities
  • Significant weight loss with no diet, weight gain, or decreased or increased appetite (in children, failure to gain weight as expected may be a sign of depression)
  • Either insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Either anxiety or slow behavior
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • nine0019 Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt
  • Decreased ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness
  • Thinking, planning or attempting suicide

Other features of bipolar disorder

Signs and symptoms of bipolar I and bipolar II disorder may include other signs such as anxiety disorder, melancholia, psychosis, or others.

Learn more