In its most common usage, the term mania refers to episodes of severely elevated mood, usually associated with bipolar disorder. However, the suffix -mania, which suggests an obsession or madness, is used to denote a large number of psychological disturbances known collectively as manias.
In bipolar disorder, episodes of general mania alternate with episodes of severe depression. During episodes of mania, sufferers experience a disturbingly elevated mood and loss of control, which can set off a number of other symptoms. Manic patients may experience hyperactivity, increased talkativeness, impulsive behavior and grandiose ideas. In some cases, bipolar patients may experience hypomania, a less severe form of mania in which loss of control is not a factor.
While mania is most often associated with bipolar disorder, there are many other types of manias that may affect people. Some manias are most common among people who suffer from a related psychological disorder. For example, many individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorder experience arithmomania, or an obsession with counting and numbers.
Manias can drastically affect a person's behavior, most notably in the arena of impulse control. In some cases, certain manias may cause a person to become a danger to himself. Trichotillomania is a fairly common impulse control disorder in which a person obsessively pulls out his or her hair. Similarly, dermatillomania is characterized by an urge to pick at one's skin.
The obsessions induced by some manias may cause sufferers to engage in illegal or aberrant behavior. For example, kleptomaniacs are driven to steal compulsively, while pyromaniacs may become obsessed with starting fires. Other manias lead to behavior that is damaging to interpersonal relationships. A person with mythomania may distance others with compulsive lying, while nymphomaniacs are individuals who suffer from an abnormally high sex drive.
While manias such as those listed above are widely recognized as common psychological problems, the suffix -mania can be added to any number of Latin root words in order to define manias that are particular to smaller groups of individuals. For example, sitomania is defined as an unhealthy obsession with food. The addition of extra root words can further specify more common manias, such as bibliokleptomania, a compulsion to steal books. In standard English, the suffix -mania is used more casually to indicate enthusiasm or a healthy obsession with a particular subject. Examples of more casual manias include beatlemania, a term indicating the international obsession with The Beatles in the 1960s, or pottermania, experienced by Harry Potter fans everywhere.
In and of themselves, most manias do not constitute psychological disorders; rather, manias tend to be symptoms of other psychological disorders. Therefore, treatment for manias is primarily psychiatric and focuses on the underlying psychological issue. For example, an individual suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder that manifests itself in the form of ablutomania, or a preoccupation with cleanliness, would likely be treated for the disorder rather than the mania.