A manic episode is an abnormally elevated, expansive or irritable mood, not related to substance abuse or a medical condition, that lasts for at least a week, and includes a number of disturbances in behavior and thinking that results in significant life adjustment problems.
Chronic behavior that appears somewhat similar to manic behavior is more likely ADHD or evidence of personality problem.
It may be helpful to think of the various mood states in manic-depressive illness as a spectrum or continuous range. At one end is severe depression, which shades into moderate depression; then come mild and brief mood disturbances that many people call "the blues," then normal mood, then hypomania (a mild form of mania), and then mania.
Some people with untreated bipolar disorder have repeated depressions and only an occasional episode of hypomania (bipolar II). In the other extreme, mania may be the main problem and depression may occur only infrequently. In fact, symptoms of mania and depression may be mixed together in a single "mixed" bipolar state.