Wilderness Mania is a state of extreme physical and emotional elation. Many alcoholics and addicts suffer mania episodes, especially while under the influence.

Symptoms and types of mania

A person experiencing mania or a manic episode may present with the following symptoms:

  • Elevated mood. The person feels extremely ‘high’, happy and full of energy; he or she may describe the experience as feeling on top of the world and invincible. The person may shift rapidly from an elevated, happy mood to being angry and irritable if thwarted.
  • Increased energy and overactivity. The person may have great difficulty remaining still.
  • Reduced need for sleep or food. The person may be too active to eat or sleep.
  • Irritability. A person in a hypomanic or manic state may become angry and irritated with those who disagree with or dismiss his or her sometimes unrealistic plans or ideas.
  • Rapid thinking and speech. The person’s thoughts and speech are more rapid than usual.
  • Grandiose plans and beliefs. It is quite common for a person in a hypomanic or manic state to believe that he or she is unusually talented or gifted or has special friendships with people in power. For example, the person may believe that he or she is on a special mission from God.
  • Lack of insight. A person in a hypomanic or manic state may understand that other people see his or her ideas and actions as inappropriate, reckless or irrational. However, he or she is unlikely to personally accept that the behaviour is inappropriate, due to a lack of insight.
  • Distractibility. The person has difficulty maintaining attention and may not be able to filter out external stimuli.

Episodes that are characterised by the above, but are not associated with marked social or occupational disturbance, a need for hospitalisation or psychotic features are called hypomanic episodes.

Helping the person experiencing mania

Appropriate goals for caring for a person with mania include:

  • Develop a relationship with the person based on empathy and trust.
  • Ensure that the person remains free from injury.
  • Assist the person to decrease their agitation and hyperactivity.
  • Promote an understanding of the features and appropriate management of mania, such as mood regulation strategies or behaviours.
  • Promote positive health behaviours, including medication compliance and healthy lifestyle choices (e.g. diet, exercise, not smoking).
  • Promote the person’s engagement with their social and support network.
  • Ensure effective collaboration with other relevant support providers, through development of effective working relationships and communication.
  • Support and promote self care activities for families and carers of the person with mania.
  • Seek medical advice.


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Related Reading:

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Everything I Never Wanted to Be: A Memoir of Alcoholism and Addiction, Faith and Family, Hope and Humor
Addiction: Understanding Addictions