What Is Dysphoric Mania?
Two weeks before he killed 12 people and injured 58 during a midnight shooting rampage in a Colorado movie theater, James Holmes texted a classmate asking if she had heard of “dysphoric mania.” When she replied asking if it was something treatable, he replied, “It was,” and said she should stay away from him “because I am bad news.”
The New York Times article that broke this story says, “The psychiatric condition [dysphoric mania], a form of bipolar disorder, combines the frenetic energy of mania with the agitation, dark thoughts and in some cases paranoid delusions of major depression.” This description is vivid enough to give readers a glimpse of what might be going on in the mind of a person such as Holmes (we have to be careful about making psychiatric judgments based entirely on the observations of others). It’s a bit misleading, though. For one thing, agitation and paranoia can be symptoms of mania as well as depression.
Also, dysphoric mania isn’t a “form” of bipolar disorder. Rather, it’s a specific type of episode that has mixed features – one where mania symptoms are combined with depression symptoms like the social withdrawal described in the Times article. (See the last paragraph in part 1 of Bipolar Depression Symptoms, Social Withdrawal.)
One problem in understanding all this is the elusive definition of the term “dysphoria.” Dictionaries disagree, using terms from depression and discontent to anguish and agitation to simply “sadness.” At bottom, the definition changes depending on the context, and in this case, the dysphoria in “dysphoric mania” isn’t the same as the dysphoria in “dysphoric depression.”
for the rest of this article:
and more definitions of dysphoria
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