Bipolar is perhaps one of the most widely misunderstood and misdiagnosed mental health disorders. Previously referred to as manic depressive disorder, bipolar is primarily characterized by shifting moods or “mood swings”. There are two different types of bipolar: bipolar I and bipolar II. Bipolar one has moods that shift frequently, whereas bipolar II has moods that shift every so often. Additionally, the mania and hypomania are experienced differently in each type of bipolar. Bipolar I will have severely high mania whereas bipolar II will have what is called hypomania. Mania is considered an “up” swing, followed by depression which is considered a “down” swing. People who live with bipolar feel as though they do not have any control over their emotions and moods. Once they get into a manic state, they feel great, if a little out of sorts. When that manic state comes to an end and heads toward depression, they come crashing down and can even become suicidal. Bipolar depression and clinical depression are two different kinds of depression, though they can share similar symptoms.
Mania and Depression
The symptoms of both the mania and the depression can be difficult to manage. Feeling out of control of one’s emotions and behaviors is triggering, frustrating, and overwhelming. Bipolar disorder is frequently co-occurring with alcoholism and addiction because of the way it soothes a variety of symptoms. According to Yahoo Finance, “It’s estimated that as many as half of bipolar disorder sufferers also struggle with some form of addiction. The extreme mania and depression of bipolar disorder makes it easy to see why turning to drugs or alcohol is a natural choice; warding off the lows and enhancing the highs can be accomplished almost immediately by self-medicating.”
Though self-medication can be relieving for a time when someone is abusing drugs and alcohol while living with bipolar, they are likely making matters worse. Popular prescription treatments for bipolar like Lamictal do not interfere well with substances like alcohol. Self-medicating “may only exacerbate the brain chemistry that makes bipolar disorder so overwhelming in the first place.”
Treating both bipolar disorder and addiction is essential for full recovery and long lasting sobriety. Without assessing both processes in the brain, one might never be sorted out from the other, causing an ongoing interaction.
Avalon Malibu is one of California’s only primary mental health treatment facility. Our estate houses both our mental health and substance use disorder facilities, making dual diagnosis treatment easy and accessible. For a confidential assessment, call 1 888-958-7511.