The Dark Side of Summer Moods

Most people are aware of the winter blues. Those with mental health conditions are often more apt to depressions in the winter and even those without may feel a soft sense of sadness in the cold of the season. Still, the season of summer can bring an equally dangerous threat to some with mental health conditions; mania and hypomania.

Mania is a high. It is a mood that is associated with several mental health diagnosis such as Schizoaffective Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, and certain other mood disorders. Symptoms of mania can range from restless or irritability to out of control risk taking, severe anxiety, spending sprees, and, in some cases, hallucinations.

Individuals who’ve experienced mania often describe it as a sense of intense energy, drive, joy, and/or elation. Still, at its worse mania can be devastating. Risky decision making can lead to lost jobs, lost friendships, and even lost lives. The experience of mania can also be brought about as rage and/or severe irritability which can have damaging consequences on a person’s life.

While manias and hypomanias can hit at any time, research shows that individuals with mood disorders are more vulnerable to mania in the summer months. It is important for family members and people living with these changes are aware of early warning signs that mania is approaching before symptoms spring out of control.

Each person’s early warning signs may be different, however, a sudden burst of activity, increase in talkativeness, and/or general change in a person’s behavior are common in the beginnings of mania. Children and adolescents may be more prone to outbursts of anger and/or defiance when going into mania. Mania in youth can sometimes be mistaken for simple “bad” behavior or “bad” attitude.

The good news is that effective treatments are available for mania. Medications including antipsychotics and mood stabilizers can help bring a person down from a mania and back to a more typical mood state. Additional medications can also be helpful in dealing with anxiety and/or irritability associated with mania. Further, counseling and support groups can help individuals recognize their individual presentation of mania and create a plan of action.

For some, having a damage control plan in place is essential. For example, for a person who is apt to spend a lot of money when manic signing over a credit card in those times to someone they can trust could be a very good thing. A person’s insight into their challenges can be blinded by mania and so it is often wise to have these plans put in place while someone is doing well.

Summer can still be a fun time for all families. Keeping an eye on potential manias can early communication with medical help can sometimes reel in the mania before it leaps out of control. Image