How well do you understand 'up'? Diagnostic psychiatry, with its emphasis on symptom checklists, gives us the impression that mania and hypomania are objectively quantifiable states.
In reality, context is everything. To prove the point, here is a little quiz for you. Good luck "
Match the behavior to the state or trait "
1 - Splashing naked in a public fountain: a) mania, b) hypomania, c) normal.
2 - Dancing on tables, out of character: a) hypomania, b) hyperthymia, c) normal.
3 - Dancing on tables, part of your baseline personality: a) hypomania, b) hyperthymia, c) normal.
4 - Standing on your chair letting out a war whoop during the Final Four: a) hypomania, b) exuberance, c) normal.
5 - Wanting to run over all the shoppers in Walmart with your cart: a) normal, b) mania, c) mixed depression-hypomania.
6 - Actually running over shoppers in Walmart: a) mania, b) mixed depression-hypomania c) mixed depression-mania.
7- Feeling less depressed than before: a) depression, b) normal, c) hypomania.
1 - a) This is classic mania. You are feeling wonderful, but you have lost your judgment, and your neighbors are about to dial 911. In a nudist camp during Mardi Gras, however, this could be considered normal.
2 - b) This is classic hypomania. You are the life of the party, but your behavior is completely out of character, which may place you in situations you have no experience in handling.
3 - b) or even c) Being the life of the party is part of your upbeat personality, and even dancing on tables may be normal to you. You're on familiar ground and know how to handle yourself.
4 - b) or c) The same display of exuberance that would get you fired at work is encouraged at sporting events.
5 - c) It may seem normal to freak out in Walmart, but more likely you are experiencing a state of agitation that mixes depressive and hypomanic symptoms. Only "pure" hypomanias and manias are characterized by feelings of bliss. More and more, psychiatry is paying attention to these very unpleasant "mixed" states.
6 - c) The heat has been turned up. You are out of control. Someone is about to call security.
7 - a) Mild depression may be as "up" as you ever get before you cycle back down into severe depression. You may be so resigned to this state of affairs that you may regard your mildly depressed states as "normal," which could possibly be the case.
The following quiz is based on a 2011 piece,
Up - Does Anyone Truly Understand Up. This was part of an 11-part series on Up. Last article and links to the other 10 pieces here.