Bipolar Disorder – (an Overview of How It Relates to Addiction, Signs, Symptoms, Treatment)

Bipolar disorder is a serious mental illness that, in many cases, can be associated with addiction. Fortunately, there are treatment options that can be utilized to create a strong, healthy recovery. If you are suffering from both these disorders, call 800-654-0987 now to find a rehab program that will cater to your needs and help you make a change for the better.

What is Bipolar Disorder?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks.” This is a real medical condition that many individuals live with every day, and unfortunately, it can cause a number of problems in someone’s life. Bipolar disorder is associated with mood swings that can last for a long period of time and is defined by high highs and low lows.

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How Does Bipolar Disorder Relate to Addiction?

Bipolar Disorder

Those with bipolar disorder often experience fatigue during depressive episodes.

Suffering from both bipolar disorder and addiction is common, though the exact link between the two is not entirely known. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, “Bipolar disorder and alcoholism co-occur at higher than expected rates,” but any type of substance abuse can occur with this mental illness.

Some propose that there may be a genetic link between the two while others believe that those who live with this condition are likely to turn to drug and/or alcohol abuse as a coping mechanism. Still other cases seem to suggest that alcohol or drug abuse can cause the symptoms associated with this mood disorder, as the National Library of Medicine states that “abnormal brain structure and function” plays a role in causing bipolar disorder, something consistent substance abuse can create.

In general, those who suffer from both are dealing with two severe mental illnesses and require immense help from professional treatment programs as well as from loved ones. If someone you care about shows signs of both these disorders, it is important to support them and help them seek treatment as soon as possible.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder and Addiction?

As the NLM states, “The manic phase may last from days to months.” The symptoms of this phase of bipolar disorder include:

  • Distractibility
  • Excess involvement
  • Little need for sleep
  • Poor judgment
  • Poor control of temper
  • Reckless behavior
  • Irritable moods
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Depressive episodes can cause the following symptoms:

  • Daily low mood or sadness
  • Fatigue
  • Lack of energy
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Loss of pleasure in activities once enjoyed
  • Loss of self-esteem
  • Problems concentrating

In general, many of these issues are also associated with substance abuse. Those who binge on stimulants can often experience continual bouts of highs and lows, and eventually, these issues can become very severe. Also, a person might abuse drugs to try to level out their moods or to cope with these symptoms. Either way, there is often a strong relationship between addiction and bipolar disorder.

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How Are These Comorbid Disorders Treated?

These issues must be treated simultaneously in order for the individual to safely recover. Without simultaneous care, the untreated illness will continue unabated and can often derail one’s progress with the other disorder. Therefore, it is extremely important to find a rehab program that can treat both issues at the same time.

Though there is no cure for bipolar disorder, those who seek treatment will often be able to learn to manage it the way they manage their addictions (Office on Women’s Health). Behavioral therapies are usually the most effective treatment options for both issues, as cognitive-behavioral therapy can help to teach a patient how to

  • Cope with cravings and stress
  • Control their moods
  • Recognize and avoid triggers
  • Practice better life skills

Pharmacological treatments can also be beneficial for both illnesses, depending on the patient’s specific situation and the substances abused. Long-term or continuous treatment is often a helpful option as well for someone suffering from comorbidity in this form.

Seek Help Today

Call 800-654-0987 now to find rehab centers that can help you overcome bipolar disorder and addiction. The longer these issues continue without treatment, the worse they will often become, so seek help now for yourself or for a loved one.

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