Understanding Bipolar Disorder
Often characterized as a strain of depression, bipolar disorder is best understood as a unique mood disorder that can have serious implications for overall mental health. Also known as manic depressive disorder, bipolar disorder is characterized by regular and extreme mood swings—but shifts between two basic poles, one of high energy and elevated mood, the other of lethargy and depression.
Even within the subset of bipolar disorder, there are four basic types—four different diagnoses, each with distinct character traits. These are known as Bipolar I Disorder, Bipolar II Disorder, Cyclomythic Disorder, and Unspecified Bipolar Disorder. Each of these conditions can occur simultaneously with addiction, which complicates diagnosis and treatment further still.
Even so, treatment is always possible, and there is ample evidence to show that it can be effective—even opening the door to lifelong recovery. We work with many clients who struggle with bipolar disorder, along with addiction, and we believe that nobody is outside the scope of recovery.
When Bipolar Disorders and Addiction Are Co-Occurring
When bipolar disorder occurs along with addiction, it is known as a co-occurring disorder. Note that there are other types of co-occurring mental health conditions, as well, including depression, anxiety, and more. Co-occurring conditions can make diagnosis difficult, as the symptoms of one condition may mask the other. Certainly, when addiction is in the picture, it is likely to be singled out as the cause of any mood problems—but sometimes this means bipolar disorder goes undiagnosed and untreated.
The best way to ensure that all conditions are being given equal weight is to seek dual diagnosis care, which will identify and treat addiction and any related mental health conditions, such as bipolar disorder. At Seacliff, we are proud to provide dual diagnosis care.
What is the Connection Between Bipolar Disorders and Addiction?
The connection between bipolar disorder and addiction is difficult to pin down, and may vary from one individual to the next. In some cases, addiction may emerge from an attempt to self-medicate—an attempt to use drugs or alcohol to soothe the symptoms of bipolar disorder. In other cases, though, substance use and bipolar disorder may be caused by the same underlying condition—such as a genetic issue. Regardless, dual diagnosis is needed to determine the real problem and to present a path toward lifelong freedom, recovery, and hope.
Signs and Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder
Symptoms of bipolar disorder can vary, which means two people with the same diagnosis may have wildly varied experiences. Broadly speaking, however, bipolar disorder can be characterized by fluctuations between “manic” and “depressive” episodes.
Those having a manic episode may:
- Feel very “up”
- Experience high energy levels
- Be busier and more active than usual
- Feel very wired, and potentially have trouble sleeping
- Be touchy or irritable
- Take a lot of unnecessary risks
- Convey very few inhibitions
Meanwhile, those having a depressive episode may:
- Feel sad, hopeless, or empty
- Lack energy
- Have decreased levels of activity
- Feel like nothing gives them any pleasure
- Struggle with worry, anxiety, or emptiness
- Experience suicidal thoughts of thoughts of self-harm
Bipolar Disorder Treatment Center
Though bipolar disorder is certainly a serious condition, it is not a hopeless one. Dual diagnosis care can provide a path to freedom and wholeness. The best way to begin is to contact Seacliff to inquire about the next step. For treatment of bipolar disorder and addiction, as well as any related mental health conditions, reach out to Seacliff today.