Bipolar disorder is a mental health disorder that causes alternating feelings of depression and elation. Its former name, manic depressive disorder, refers to the sensations of highs and lows experienced within an individual’s mind, body, and spirit. These shifts in mood and attitude can range in length and severity depending on each individual. If bipolar disorder is not treated, its symptoms are likely to worsen.
Manic vs. Depressive Symptoms
An individual suffering from bipolar disorder will experience intense emotions and energy levels followed by polar opposite sensations of decreased energy and depression. These alternating patterns in a person’s mental state are referred to as mood episodes. They are categorized between manic and depressive to better understand the changes in people with this disorder.
Manic episode symptoms:
- Feelings of elation or irritability
- High energy levels
- Racing thoughts
- Lack of concentration or jumping from one task to another
- Impulsive behaviors such as overspending, unprotected sex, drinking, or using drugs
- Enlarged ego
Depressive episode symptoms:
- Feelings of sadness or hopelessness
- Sleep disturbances like having trouble falling asleep or going back to sleep
- Trouble with memory
- Increased appetite
- Loss of interest in hobbies or activities
- Trouble concentrating
These episodes vary in length from a couple of days to weeks and months at a time. There are three main types of bipolar disorder, all differentiated by the extent of the symptoms of manic and depressive episodes.
The Three Types of Bipolar Disorder
- Bipolar I Disorder: diagnosed by the presence of one or more manic episodes where some individuals will also experience a depressive episode
- Bipolar II Disorder: diagnosed by the presence of at least one major depressive episode and at least one hypomanic episode
- Cyclothymic Disorder: diagnosed by more mild symptoms of bipolar disorder and frequent mood swings
Hypomanic episodes refer to a manic episode with less severe symptoms that lasts four days rather than a week or more.
The Impact of Bipolar Disorder
Due to the drastic changes in mood and energy, living with bipolar disorder can be incredibly exhausting and difficult to manage. If mood episodes are severe, individuals may experience a complete break in their reality where they cannot recognize what is real and what is not. This is called psychosis. Psychosis can be dangerous, as it may cause hallucinations and paranoia, putting individuals at risk of harming themselves or others.
According to a review published in Medicina, bipolar disorders affect 1-5% of the total population. In this same review, titled “Suicide Risk in Bipolar Disorder,” 20% of individuals with bipolar disorder end their lives by suicide, and 20 to 60% attempt suicide at least once in their lives. These statistics alone show the impact bipolar disorder can have on a person’s life and the lives of their loved ones.
Bipolar Disorder as a Co-Occurring Disorder
While working through the effects of either a manic or depressive episode, individuals may be inclined to abuse drugs or alcohol. Bipolar disorders commonly co-occur with substance use disorder (SUD), which has detrimental effects on health and safety. Feeding an addiction alongside bipolar disorder has been reported to prolong active mood episodes and increase suicidal and impulsive behavior.
The use of drugs can also encourage psychosis and impulsivity, which puts individuals at risk for harmful behaviors like staring fights, intoxicated driving, unprotected sex, and more. In some cases, individuals with no history of mental disorders or dormant symptoms of bipolar disorder can begin to show symptoms due to substance abuse.
The use of drugs can cause feelings of euphoria followed by fatigue, low self-worth, and lack of or loss of satisfaction. This rise and fall of emotions can negatively influence and worsen the symptoms and mood swings brought on by bipolar disorders.
Treatments and Therapies
Once an individual has reached recovery from addiction, the effects of bipolar disorder may impact their ability to stay sober. That is why it is crucial to treat both conditions together and educate clients on the impact, and influence bipolar disorder and SUDs have on one another so they can properly address their needs in recovery.
Common treatment therapies for bipolar disorder and SUDs include:
- Psychotherapy: Also known as “talk therapy,” psychotherapy can consist of treatment modalities such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), and other exercises for managing mood episodes and preventing relapse.
- Group therapy: Through therapy in a group setting, clients gain insight, receive support, and share their trials and triumphs with others in a judgment-free environment that increases motivation and holds clients accountable.
- Medically-Assisted Treatment: Medication is commonly used to treat bipolar disorder as a co-occurring disorder to help stabilize mood and prevent impulsive decisions.
Participating in a residential treatment program alongside 24/7 care and learning-based activities for a life in recovery encourages healing for all areas of an individual’s life affected by addiction.
Dual-Diagnosis Treatment at Laguna Shores Recovery
At Laguna Shores Recovery, we believe that addiction cannot be treated effectively without addressing co-occurring disorders. Through dual-diagnosis treatment, we aim to heal the mind and body from the effects of SUD and bipolar disorder by treating them simultaneously. In this kind of treatment, medical professionals educate clients on how SUD and BPD interact and influence each other.
Once a client learns of this relationship, they can begin addressing the impact it has had on their life. Through evidence-based psychotherapy techniques, mindfulness exercises, and emphasis on physical, mental, and spiritual health, clients gain a better understanding of themselves while learning how to treat the complicated feelings throughout recovery.
Laguna Shores takes a whole-person approach to addiction recovery. We believe that long-term recovery can only be achieved by healing the mind, body, and spirit from the effects of drug abuse and mental health disorders. Once addiction is treated, bipolar disorder will continue until it is treated as well. We pay attention to the relationship between these two disorders so that relapse can be prevented and our clients can make the most out of recovery.
Abusing substances while living with bipolar disorder can increase the severity of manic and depressive mood episodes and lead to psychosis. Laguna Shores Recovery utilizes evidence-based therapies to treat substance use disorders and co-occurring mental health disorders. To learn more about our programs, call us today at (866) 229-9923.