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9 Triggers of Mania in Bipolar Disorder

9 Triggers of Mania in Bipolar DisorderMood swings are the mainstays of bipolar disorder. There are small ones like everyone has, but there are also swings that go over the top or right to the bottom. The lightweight mood swings can be dealt with, most of the time. You work it out and move on with life. For full episodes of depression and mania, however, treatment gets difficult. It can take years for a patient and their doctor(s) to find the right treatment. Even then there may need to be tweaks or even overhauls. One way to help yourself out in this process is to watch your behaviors and take note of what may be triggering episodes. Here are 10 common triggers for manic episodes:

1 Changing sleep patterns
Both too little sleep and too much sleep can trigger episodes. The best idea is keeping a tight sleep schedule. Go to bed and get up at the same time, every day.

2 Having a baby
Postpartum depression is a widely-known illness. However, between 20-30% of women with bipolar I disorder experience manic episodes postpartum, especially within the first 2-3 weeks.

3 Alcohol or drug use
You don’t have to abuse alcohol or drugs for them to affect your mental health. It makes sense that stimulants like meth and cocaine could induce mania, but depressants like alcohol and marijuana can too.

4 Antidepressants
While antidepressants are often effective when used to treat unipolar depression, they can trigger manic episodes. If they are used to treat bipolar disorder at all, they are typically used along with a mood stimulator.

5 Overstimulation
Noise, lights and odors can be overstimulating but social situations can as well.

6 Illness
Physical illness causes emotional stress. It also causes inflammation to occur in the body and in the brain. Any inflammation in the brain can seriously affect the areas that control mood.

7 Season changes
While the lack of sunlight during the winter can worsen depression, the increase of sunlight can induce mania. Allergens can also cause inflammation (see #6).

8 Social conflict
Relationships play a big role in managing bipolar disorder. Our friends and family can be our biggest supporters, but it’s difficult. Because of the intensity of these relationships, when something goes wrong, it can be a stressor.

9 Really anything that throws off your groove
Okay, not anything. Not getting your usual parking space is probably not going to trigger a manic episode. Travel, a new job, a new relationship- these are all examples of changes that can affect your normal behavior patterns. The more your normal patterns are thrown off, the more you can be affected biologically and the higher your chances are of a manic episode.

Bonus: Not taking your medication
This is fairly straightforward. If you don’t take the medication that is intended to prevent mood swings, you are more likely to experience those episodes. More urgently, discontinuing your medication can send you into withdrawal which can lead not only to mania, but also other severe, physical symptoms.



You can find me on Twitter @LaRaeRLaBouff

Photo credit: Kelly Sikkema

9 Triggers of Mania in Bipolar Disorder

LaRae LaBouff

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APA Reference
LaBouff, L. (2015). 9 Triggers of Mania in Bipolar Disorder. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 15, 2020, from


Last updated: 10 Dec 2015
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