Charlie Sheen’s recent antics have certainly caused a media blitz. Is he bipolar; is he on crack, is he brain damaged from years of excessive partying, etc.? One thing is for sure, he has certainly educated the public as to the signs of a true manic episode. Law enforcement can review his videos for free online as an excellent training exercise into the symptoms and consequences of mania.
Mania can be a symptom of several disorders: bipolar disorder, drug intoxication (stimulants such as cocaine or methamphetamine), medication side effects (steroids), multiple sclerosis, stroke or malignancy. It is also a symptom of excited delirium, also referred to as acute exhaustive mania. The problem with mania is that most individuals in an episode fail to recognize that there is something wrong. They feel invincible, as Charlie put it, “I'm bi-winning. I win here, I win there.” They are oblivious to the damage they are creating for themselves or possibly for others. Eventually, they will crash.
Bipolar disorder (also called manic depression) is a mental illness that is characterized by severe mood swings; repeated episodes of depression; and at least one episode of mania. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) estimates that 10 million Americans suffer from bipolar disorder. The United States has the highest lifetime rate of bipolar disorder at 4.4%. Bipolar disorder is the fifth leading cause of disability worldwide. The number of individuals with bipolar disorder who commit suicide is 60 times higher than that of the general population.
Additionally, the National Institute on Drug Abuse reported in 2009 that one million Americans age 12 and older had abused crack and 1.2 million had abused methamphetamine in the past year. Do the math. The chances that law enforcement will encounter an individual experiencing a manic episode are quite high. People in mania can and do become threatening, assaultive and violent.
Fifteen Symptoms of Mania
- Dramatic increase in energy; decreased need for sleep and food
- Racing thoughts; pressured/tangential speech; rapid-fire conversation
- Feelings of euphoria; invincibility
- Distractibility; irritability
- Impulsivity; poor judgment (questionable business transactions, wasteful expenditures of money)
- Intrusive, provocative, aggressive or even violent behavior
- Hypersexuality; reckless sexual behaviors
- Increased alcohol or drug abuse
- Elevated self-esteem
- Grandiose plans, ideas, beliefs (feeling like one has super powers or talents)
- Increased risk of altercations with law enforcement
- Increased social, familial problems; problems at work
- Denial of problems; refusal to seek medical treatment or comply with a medical regime
Bipolar Disorder Explained
Bipolar disorder, also referred to as manic depression, is a serious medical illness. It is classified as a mood disorder characterized by episodes of depression alternating with euphoric (manic) states. Untreated manic episodes can last for weeks or even months. Symptoms of depression include feelings of hopelessness; thoughts of suicide; changes in sleep/eating patterns; and loss of interest in activities that once were a source of pleasure. Bipolar symptoms can develop in childhood. The disorder affects men and woman equally. Bipolar disorder is frequently misdiagnosed as depression, schizophrenia, or ADHD, delaying appropriate treatment. Bipolar disorder is a long-term illness that must be carefully managed throughout a person's life.
In order to qualify for the diagnosis of bipolar disorder, a person must experience at least one manic episode and symptoms of mania must last for at least a week. Classic bipolar disorder (Bipolar Disorder I) is marked by episodes of acute mania and psychosis. Delusions occur in 75% of all Bipolar I manic episodes. Bipolar Disorder II is characterized by episodes of milder depression and milder mania (called hypomania). A hypomanic episode does not include psychotic symptoms or signs that might indicate a person is dangerous to him/her or others.