Bipolar disorder is a brain disorder that causes a person’s mind to shift. This affects your mood and energy levels. It becomes challenging to carry out daily responsibilities and causes problems with relationships of every nature. Also known as manic-depressive illness, it is known to be a genetic disease. Moods can be highly elevated, where you’ll feel incredibly alive and full of energy. These are known as manic episodes. It will eventually turn into a sad, depressed state, which is known as depressive episodes.
Addiction to drugs or alcohol is prevalent for those with bipolar disorder. There are a variety of reasons someone with bipolar II would abuse substances. Part of the disorder causes emotional ups and downs, which affects how you behave. Your judgment might be off, and you look to numb the dramatic emotions that plague your life. It’s complicated to treat the dual diagnosis disorder between bipolar disorder and substance addiction. Therefore, addiction treatment is specialized for someone with a dual diagnosis disorder. If you struggle with addiction and have bipolar disorder II, there are ways you can get help and begin recovery. Contact Women’s Recovery at 833.754.0554 for treatment today.
The Relation Between Bipolar Disorder and Addiction
Substance abuse and bipolar disorder of any kind have a negative effect on your physical and emotional well-being. If you have bipolar disorder, you will often experience problems with relationships, financial issues, accidental injuries, and risk of suicide. You are also more likely to become addicted to drugs or alcohol. The American Journal of Managed Care did a study on bipolar disorder and addiction. Statistics include:
- Over half of people that participated in the study and suffered from bipolar experienced a problem with drugs or alcohol addiction at some point
- Within the group, 46% had abused or had become addicted to alcohol. There were 41% that abused drugs and were addicted.
- The most commonly abused substance for those with bipolar is alcohol.
There are four main types of bipolar disorder. Each of them shares similar characteristics that include obvious changes in your mood, energy, and activity levels. Your mood rises and then plummets, and you don’t have control over when or where it will happen. The least severe manic period is called hypomanic episodes.
- Bipolar I disorder is a manic episode that lasts up to one week. The symptoms of the manic episode can be so intense that you’ll require hospitalization. Depressive episodes will also occur and will often last up to two weeks. Additionally, it’s possible to experience the symptoms of mania and depression simultaneously.
- Depressive and hypomanic episodes define bipolar II disorder. So the hypomanic episode is not as intense as bipolar I. Full-blown manic episodes won’t occur.
- Cyclothymic disorder or cyclothymia is when many periods of hypomanic symptoms and depressive symptoms occur for up to two years. For children and adolescents, it will usually be one year of symptoms. A cyclothymic disorder doesn’t meet the requirements to be considered a hypomanic or depressive episode.
- Other specified and unspecified bipolar and related disorders will include bipolar disorder symptoms but don’t match the categories discussed. They may come and go and last for a small amount of time.
More About Bipolar II
Everyone experiences sadness or depression along with thrills from time to time. We may intensely focus on a task or feel full of energy. Someone with bipolar II disorder will not be able to control their moods. They are extreme and continue to happen over and over in an uncontrollable pattern. Bipolar II can be interpreted as a depressive disorder at times. In some cases, the hypomanic episode might not be detectable, or the patient may see it as their regular character. If not treated, the hypomanic episodes can turn into extreme manic episodes or deeper depression. Two mood episodes go along with bipolar II.
The depressive episodes in Bipolar 2 will last for up to two weeks. Typical feelings associated with the depressive episode include sadness, disinterest in life, and hopelessness. You will feel exhausted during this time, as well as agitated, unable to focus, indecisive, and potentially suicidal. These symptoms may include:
- You’ll feel a deep sense of sadness, emptiness, and hopelessness.
- You won’t have any energy.
- Activity levels will decrease.
- You may have problems with sleeping, whether it’s too little or too much.
- You’re unable to enjoy life.
- You feel worried.
- You’ll find it difficult to concentrate.
- You will forget things.
- You may either over or under-eat.
- You’ll feel exhausted all the time.
- You may consider death and suicide at this time.
When comparing bipolar II vs. I, one of the significant differences is that the hypomanic episode is less extreme. Bipolar I is defined as full-blown manic episodes. With bipolar II, the manic intensity is much less. A hypomanic episode in bipolar II will include increased productivity and happiness. You’ll feel like your functioning at a high frequency. You’ll tend to forget that anything is wrong during the time of hypomania. People around you are likely to notice the changes that have occurred with you. Symptoms may include:
- Many people have abnormal highs.
- You’ll have a lot of energy.
- Your activity levels will increase.
- You’ll feel jumpy and wired.
- It is usually challenging to sleep.
- You’re more active than usual.
- You’ll talk quickly and deviate from subjects, moving onto new topics.
- You’ll feel irritable, agitated, and overly sensitive emotionally.
- You may have a hard time holding onto thoughts because they’re moving so quickly through your mind.
- You’ll believe you can multitask with ease.
- You’re prone to doing risky things like spending money, having reckless sex, or abusing substances.
Why People with Bipolar II Abuse Substances
There is no straightforward answer as to why substance abuse and addiction are prevalent among patients with bipolar disorder. One of the reasons is that many people self-medicate with drugs and alcohol to numb the pain associated with their symptoms. When you experience anxiety, pain, depression, or unable to sleep, it can become so overwhelming, leading you to turn to drugs. This can decrease the feelings of discomfort for a time. The problem lies in that it exasperates once the high wears off. Studies have found that alcohol and drug use can actually trigger bipolar depression or manic episodes. It becomes a vicious cycle that is challenging to overcome. Complex addiction treatment may be necessary to assist in recovery from dual diagnosis illness.
Who’s at Risk of Dual Diagnosis for Bipolar Disorder and Addiction?
Age, as well as gender, make up the dual diagnosis of bipolar II and addiction. Many experts have found that young males make up the majority. Secondly, it’s young females. The theory is that the younger population takes more risks and will act on self-destructive impulses more often. Elderly patients with bipolar disorder will abuse substances much less. Researchers have found that there is an influence on brain chemistry from bipolar disorder as well as substance abuse.
If you have bipolar disorder, your levels of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine are abnormal. These are the chemicals that govern things like your response to stress, your appetite, metabolism, and how well you sleep. They also influence your moods and feelings.
If you abuse drugs or alcohol, this also interferes with how the brain processes the chemicals in your brain. It can cause erratic energy levels depending on what substance you use. You become even more emotionally unstable and are more susceptible to falling into depression. Generally, people will turn to drugs and alcohol unconsciously to feel more normal. By the time addiction has taken hold, you’re all too aware that substance abuse has the opposite effect. Bipolar disorder worsens through substance abuse.
The Risks of Abusing Substance If You’re Bipolar II
Substance abuse will affect bipolar disorder negatively. Here are some of the common issues that arise through abuse of substance:
- The moods that come with bipolar II will be amplified. This includes impulses, hostility, irritability, highs and lows, and poor judgment.
- The episodes of emotional instability will last longer.
- There is a greater risk of suicide.
- Quality of life will diminish, and there will be a feeling of complete hopelessness.
How Manic Episodes Contribute to Addiction
Bipolar II brings about psychotic episodes where you’re not living in reality. Delusions of grandeur and hallucinations may occur. The difference between bipolar I disorder and bipolar II disorder is intensity levels. It is more common in bipolar I patients to fall out of reality fully and is the reason for hospitalization. There is also unrealistic thinking with bipolar II patients. Beliefs that are not conducive to reality.
Due to these beliefs, high-risk behaviors may occur. The belief of invincibility can cause you to think you can fly or that you can have risky sex without consequence. This may also promote heavy drug or alcohol abuse. Symptoms of manic episodes may cause you to numb yourself, get to sleep, or relax.
How Depressive Episodes Contribute to Addiction
Some experts have found that bipolar depression episodes are the more debilitating aspect of the disorder. It is the depression that makes it feel impossible to live. This is where you will miss out on life and stop going to work. You might lay in bed all day and think extreme negative, dark thoughts. During hypomanic episodes, you may have already become accustomed to excessive drinking or drug use. During the depressive episode, you may then use substances to harm yourself. You may try to overdose as symptoms during this time include suicidal ideation. If you’re feeling hopeless, self-destruction is a natural pattern. All of these symptoms within depression increase your chances of abusing drugs or alcohol.
The Similar Symptoms Between Addiction and Bipolar
It’s hard for you to know whether it’s substance abuse or bipolar disorder that’s causing symptoms. They become so closely intertwined, you can’t determine what is dominating your moods. If you’re going through a manic episode, it may appear to others that you’re using cocaine. Your mood is elevated, and you have a lot of energy. If you’re in the midst of a depressive episode, it might seem like you’re going through withdrawal. The symptoms are so similar. When you are suffering from addiction and have a co-occurring bipolar disorder, you’ll need to get help from someone professionally trained to make the dual diagnosis. It’s challenging to distinguish what symptoms sit with what disorder.
Treating Co-Occurring Disorders
To effectively treat a co-occurring disorder, a professional would have to tackle two problems at once. Often medication is put in place for short-term in order to treat conditions. Someone with bipolar II disorder who has an addiction can go through medically-assisted detox. This will also focus on reducing symptoms of your bipolar disorder.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment at Women’s Recovery
It’s important to note that diagnosing addiction is easier than seeing bipolar disorder for what it is. If you have a history of manic episodes and bipolar depression episodes, your addiction may be covering it up. Some may have developed as a result of addiction which makes it even more challenging. Not to say that drugs and alcohol cause bipolar disorder, but it can cause it to surface in the midst of addiction.
For someone with bipolar disease, you’re four times more likely to have a substance abuse problem. Nobody wants to feel the kind of sadness you feel as someone with bipolar disorder. In your feelings of despair, you may feel that drug or alcohol abuse is your only solution. There are alternatives, though, and when you get the help you need, you gain hope with the possibility of leading a normal life. Fortunately, Women’s Recovery offers treatment for both conditions. Our treatment options include:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Dialectical behavior therapy
- Group therapy
- Meditation therapy
- Yoga therapy
For more information on overcoming your addiction and bipolar II disorder, please contact Women’s Recovery today at 833.754.0554.