Soaring Highs and Profound Lows

Our Blog

Soaring Highs and Profound Lows: A Bipolar Diagnosis and Recovery

Recovery from substance abuse or use disorder is difficult in its own right, without any additional diagnoses or complicating factors. For patients with a bipolar diagnosis, this recovery process can be even more complex. Studies show that substance abuse often coincides with a bipolar diagnosis; the symptoms of bipolar disorder often prompt substance abuse and addiction, and use of drugs or alcohol can exacerbate the symptoms of bipolar disorder. These two diseases have to be treated simultaneously in order to provide relief for patients, and effective treatment requires a comprehensive medical and therapeutic approach. Day to day life with a bipolar diagnosis, without the proper care, is marked by extreme highs and lows and difficulty in many areas of life. Combined with substance abuse, this condition can make life unmanageable for sufferers.

What Prompts a Bipolar Diagnosis?

A bipolar diagnosis can be one of two forms of the disorder, type one bipolar or type two bipolar. In order to receive a bipolar diagnosis, a patient must be evaluated by a mental health specialist such as a psychiatrist or a psychologist. Because the symptoms of bipolar can be mimicked by a variety of other conditions, including thyroid disease, special care must be taken to rule out other possible causes of symptoms before a professional can arrive at a bipolar diagnosis for a patient. Oftentimes, patients are diagnosed after undergoing observation, evaluation, or long-term monitoring of symptoms. Bipolar disorder can occur in someone of any age, gender, socioeconomic status, or background, but onset of symptoms usually occurs between the ages of 15 and 30, and symptoms and severity do vary between men and women. Generally, a bipolar diagnosis is made when an individual displays certain symptoms over a long period of time that cannot be accounted for by any physical condition or unrelated mood disorder.

Different Types of Bipolar Diagnosis

In popular culture, bipolar disorder is characterized as severe mood swings between depression and mania. While the disorder is generally more nuanced, bipolar is primarily a disorder in which individuals cycle between “poles” of emotion, experiencing mania alternating with depressive episodes. Symptoms of mania include:

  • Extreme euphoria
  • Delusions of grandeur
  • Irritability
  • High levels of energy, decreased need for sleep
  • Decreased appetite
  • Racing thoughts
  • Hallucinations or delusions, in extreme cases
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Rapid speech patterns
  • Extremely high self-esteem
  • Poor judgment

People in a manic state may believe they are capable of unrealistic things, begin a series of projects without finishing them, make impulsive choices such as going on shopping sprees or engaging in risky sexual behavior, and experience delusional ideas about their capabilities. Manic states alternate with depressive episodes for patients with bipolar. Bipolar depression includes symptoms such as:

  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Sleep disturbances such as sleeping too much or insomnia
  • Extreme increase or decrease in appetite
  • Extreme sadness or hopelessness
  • Poor concentration and judgment
  • Loss of motivation to complete basic tasks
  • Low self esteem
  • Anger or agitation
  • Feeling guilty, shameful, or pessimistic
  • Loss of interest in activities and relationships
  • Suicidal ideation or attempts

Bipolar disorder shows up in several forms that vary with regard to severity of symptoms, cycling rates, and general manifestations. For example, patients with a type one bipolar diagnosis generally experience severe mania interspersed with depressive episodes, and can also experienced mixed states (symptoms of both depression and mania), while patients with bipolar type two generally experience more frequent severe depressive episodes alternating with hypomania (a less severe form of mania). Other forms of the disorder include patients with rapid cycling bipolar. Regardless of form, the impact of these polar episodes on the lives of patients can be extremely detrimental without the proper treatment.

Bipolar Diagnosis and Addiction

A bipolar diagnosis often comes alongside a diagnosis of a substance use disorder. According to the American Journal of Managed Care, 56% of patients with bipolar who were surveyed had also suffered from substance dependence at some point in their lives. Addiction is so prevalent in patients with bipolar disorder because oftentimes people try to self-medicate their symptoms with alcohol or drugs. Patients with mania are more likely to engage in risky behavior, including drinking or drug use, while patients in the midst of a depressive episode may attempt to alleviate the pain of depression through substance abuse. Abusing drugs and alcohol can backfire, however, because these substances often make the symptoms of bipolar disorder worse over time. Because of these factors, it is absolutely vital that patients who seek treatment for addiction or alcoholism are also treated for bipolar if they have been diagnosed with the disorder. In order to stay sober, bipolar symptoms must be managed, and in order to effectively treat bipolar disorder, any addiction or alcoholism issues must be addressed. For many people, a bipolar diagnosis goes hand-in-hand with a substance use problem.

Treating Both Disorders at Wellness

Because these two disorders- bipolar and addiction- are so heavily linked to one another and co-occur on a frequent basis, there is an overwhelming need for facilities that are equipped to treat patients with a dual diagnosis. Fortunately, Wellness Retreat Recovery offers dual diagnosis care for patients who suffer from addiction alongside a mood disorder, such as bipolar. Our facility uses holistic, traditional, and evidence-based therapeutic models to care for patients who have been dually diagnosed, in order to promote recovery from all conditions our clients may be suffering from. If the status quo isn’t meeting your needs, we can offer comprehensive treatment that really works to treat addiction and bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, or any other mental illness that can fuel substance abuse. Call us today at 888-738-0692 for more information.