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Understanding Bipolar Disorder

Manic-depressive disease, also called bipolar disorder or manic depression, is a chronic mental health condition that produces abrupt changes in mood, energy levels, thought processes, and behavior. These shifts interfere with your ability to complete daily duties and can persist for a few minutes or several days, weeks, or even months.

A few different varieties of bipolar disorder are characterized by severe mood swings known as hypomanic/manic and depressed episodes.

Bipolar I, bipolar II, and cyclothymic disorder are the three diagnoses that comprise the category of “bipolar disorder.”

  • Manic episodes are a crucial aspect of bipolar I illness. You must have experienced at least one manic episode for at least a week, either with or without ever having a depressive episode, to be diagnosed with bipolar I disorder.                                              
  • Similar to bipolar I, bipolar II involves a cyclical pattern of high and low moods. However, the “up” moods in bipolar II disorder never intensify into a full-fledged mania. Instead, hypomanic episodes, also known as hypomania, are the less severe elevated moods accompanying bipolar II disease.                                                                           
  • Cyclothymia, often known as a cyclothymic disorder, is frequently thought of as a chronic, milder variant of bipolar illness (previously known as manic-depressive disorder). People suffering from cyclothymia go through cyclic highs and lows, as shown by significant mood and energy swings that impair their ability to perform. These mood swings might happen suddenly and at any time.

Connecting Bipolar Disorder and Addiction

Bipolar disorder patients go through severe emotional bouts, or mood episodes, that generally last a few days to a few weeks. The sudden mood swings might be classified as depressive or manic/hypomanic (unusually cheerful or irritated) (sad mood). However, most people with bipolar disorder also have times of neutral mood.

Even those who do not have bipolar disorder go through mood swings. Meanwhile, these mood swings usually only last a few hours instead of days. Furthermore, unlike during mood episodes, these alterations are typically not accompanied by the significant degree of behavior change or difficulties adjusting to regular activities and social interactions that bipolar illness sufferers exhibit. 

Many people occasionally struggle with their mental health. But when symptoms linger and put you under a lot of stress and limit your ability to carry out regular chores, it becomes a mental illness. A person with bipolar disorder may experience problems at work or school and in their relationships with their loved ones.

Anxiety disorders, substance use disorders, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are typically present in people with bipolar I disorder and bipolar II disorder. In addition, compared to the general population, those with bipolar I disorder have a much-increased risk of suicide.

Causes of Bipolar Disorder

Stressful life circumstances, parent loss, and drug or alcohol usage are some examples of psychosocial causes. Genetic factors do contribute to the emergence of this condition. However, psychosocial factors or the environment in which the child is raised are essential.

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

Some symptoms of bipolar disorder/manic depression include:

  • Faulty judgment.
  • Feeling wired.
  • Denying or failing to recognize that there is a problem.
  • A sense of doom, hopelessness, and despair.
  • Intense melancholy.
  • Issues with sleep and insomnia.
  • Concern over little matters.
  • Physical discomfort or subjects that don’t go away after treatment.
  • Despite minimal sleep, not feeling exhausted.
  • Boredom or a sense of distraction.
  • Absent from job or school.
  • Failing to do well in a career or education.
  • Having the ability to do anything with concentration.
  • Being outgoing, gregarious, and occasionally aggressive.
  • Taking dangerous actions.
  • Heightened libido.
  • Feeling ecstatic or elated.
  • Having a solid sense of self-worth, self-confidence, and importance.
  • Talking quickly and incessantly.
  • A possible false sense of guilt
  • Either eating more or less.
  • Either weight growth or loss.
  • Severe fatigue, listlessness, and exhaustion.
  • An incapacity to take pleasure in pursuits or activities that ordinarily bring happiness.
  • Having trouble remembering and focusing.
  • Others might miss a keen sense of sounds, smells, and other details.
  • Changing the subject of the conversation.
  • A person may act on odd notions and “racing” thoughts that come and go swiftly.

In addition to psychotic symptoms, including hallucinations or delusions, a person with severe bipolar disorder may also experience thoughts of self-harm or suicide.

Bipolar Disorder and Addiction – Dual Diagnosis

A person diagnosed with both a substance use problem and a mental health disorder is known to have a dual diagnosis, sometimes referred to as co-occurring disorder, dual disorder, or co-morbidity. 

People with co-occurring disorders (dual diagnosis) must overcome difficult obstacles. For example, compared to people with mental or substance use problems alone, they have higher rates of relapse, hospitalization, homelessness, and HIV and hepatitis C infection.

It can be rather challenging to tell which disorder developed first, making a diagnosis more challenging because symptoms of one disorder might be masked by or accentuated by those of the other. 

According to estimates, more than 50% of people with a significant mental health diagnosis also struggle with drug or alcohol addiction.

It’s never easy to deal with substance misuse, alcoholism, or drug addiction, and it’s even worse when simultaneously dealing with mental health issues.

The fact that the co-occurring disorders also have an impact on one another complicates the problem further. For example, substance misuse worsens when a mental health issue is left untreated. And when drug or alcohol misuse rises, mental health issues typically follow.

Treatment and Medications for Bipolar Disorder:

Bipolar disorder is treated with several different drugs. Your specific symptoms will determine the types and dosages of medications recommended. Medication, individual or group counseling, self-help techniques, dietary modifications, and peer support can all be used to treat mental health issues.

Medicines could consist of:

  • Antidepressants: To help you manage depression, your doctor might prescribe an antidepressant. An antidepressant is typically administered with a mood stabilizer or antipsychotic since it can occasionally provoke a manic episode.                                     
  • Stabilizers of mood: Mood-stabilizing drugs are generally required to treat manic or hypomanic episodes. Lithium, valproic acid (Depakene), divalproex sodium, carbamazepine, and lamotrigine are a few examples of mood stabilizers.                                 
  • Antipsychotics: An antipsychotic drug, such as olanzapine (Zyprexa), risperidone (Risperdal), quetiapine (Seroquel), aripiprazole (Abilify), ziprasidone (Geodon), lurasidone (Latuda), or asenapine (Saphris), may be added if symptoms of depression or mania continue despite treatment with other medications Some of these drugs may be prescribed by your doctor either alone or in combination with a mood stabilizer.

A person with a dual diagnosis must manage both ailments. One must give up alcohol and drugs for the treatment to be effective. Medicines and behavioral therapy are possible treatment options.

Detoxification, controlling withdrawal symptoms, behavioral therapy, and support groups to help you stay sober are all possible treatments for substance misuse. 

People with substance use disorders and mental health issues can recover from co-occurring conditions, but it requires time, effort, and courage.

If the behavior has reached an acute addiction and is causing distress, or disrupting your life, talk to a doctor or mental health care professional.

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