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Mania is a severe medical condition characterized by an extremely strong mood. Maniacs are very energetic, they have unusual thought patterns. Some maniacs show signs of psychosis. The word itself comes from from Greek μανία (Mania) and that from μαίνομαι - mainomai, "to rage, to be furious".
Mania is just a symptom, and not an illness as such. There are many causes for it, including wrongly using drugs, or using them for fun, as well as tumors of the brain. Most of the time, it is associated with bipolar disorder, though. In bipolar disorder, there are episodes of mania that alternate with ones of clinical depression. These cycles may be influenced by patterns in nature, as well as stress.
In some cases, manic patients need to be hospitalized for protection (against themselves, and so that they cannot harm others). On the other hand, mania and hypomania have also been associated with creativity and artistic talent.
Symptoms of mania include talking very fast, racing thoughts, less need for sleep, impulsiveness, and increased interest in goal-directed activities. The affected person may behave unusually. These behaviors can cause stress in everyday life.
Another symptom of mania is racing thoughts during which the sufferer is excessively distracted by unimportant stimuli. This negative experience creates an inability to function and an absentmindedness where the manic individual's thoughts totally preoccupy him or her, making him or her unable to keep track of time or be aware of anything besides the neurological pattern of thoughts.
Although "severely elevated mood" sounds somewhat desirable and enjoyable, the experience of mania is often quite unpleasant and sometimes disturbing, if not frightening, for the person involved (and those close to them), and may lead to impulsive behavior that may later be regretted. It can also often be complicated by the sufferer's lack of judgment and insight regarding periods of exacerbation of symptoms. There are different levels of mania.
It is possible to treat mania using a combination of drugs and therapy. Before starting the treatment, an exact medical diagnosis of the causes of mania must be done. This needs to be done to rule out that the mania is caused for example by a tumor. If this was the case, treating the tumor would be better (and would also take care of the mania).
The mania in bipolar disorder is usually treated using a combination of mood stabilizers and antipsychotic drugs. During the treatment, the patient needs to be monitored to rule out (or treat) certain side-effects. The patient may also need medical supervision until he or she is stabilized, that is until no more manic episodes occur.
When the symptoms of mania have gone, long-term treatment then focuses on prophylactic treatment to try to stabilize the patient's mood. Very often, this is done using a combination of drugs and psychotherapy.
Lithium is the classic mood stabilizer to prevent further manic and depressive episodes. Anticonvulsants such as valproic acid and carbamazepine are also used for prophylaxis. More recent drug solutions include lamotrigine. Clonazepam (Rivotril, Ravotril or Rivatril) is also used.
The calcium-channel blocker, verapamil is useful in the treatment of hypomania and in those cases where lithium and mood stabilizers are contraindicated or ineffective. Verapamil is effective for both short-term and long-term treatment.
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