Bipolar disorder, which used to be called manic depression, is a condition characterized by alternating depressive and manic episodes. Nearly six million American adults struggle with bipolar disorder. It is a difficult condition that often leads to problems with work and relationships. It also frequently leads to addiction. More than half of people with bipolar disorder struggle with substance use issues. It’s also a difficult condition to diagnose. The average person with bipolar disorder lives with the condition for 10 years before it’s properly diagnosed. Here are they signs.
Most people with bipolar disorder think they’re just depressed. They may feel sad, hopeless, worthless, fatigued, achy, have trouble sleeping or sleep too much, have trouble concentrating, or have thoughts of suicide. Depressive episodes can last for a long time, often for months. When people with bipolar disorder seek medical help, it’s almost always for the depression. No one seeks medical advice when he feels amazing and invincible. As a result, the doctor or therapist sees classic signs of depression and diagnoses it as such. It may take a long time before the doctor or therapist, or even the patient, becomes aware of the manic episodes and can make the correct diagnosis.
The manic episodes are what distinguishes bipolar disorder from depression. Manic symptoms can either manifest as mania or hypomania. Mania is the full-blown condition of feeling elated, euphoric, grandiose, full of energy, restless, unable to sleep, with fast speech, racing thoughts, and risky behavior. Sometimes manic episodes are so severe the patient must be hospitalized. In the case of severe manic episodes, which characterize bipolar I, it’s usually pretty obvious that it’s not simply a case of depression. More common are milder manic episodes, called hypomania. These episodes are mainly characterized by more energy, good mood, and little need for sleep. They may appear to the outside observer, and to the person with bipolar disorder, as simply a welcome break in the depression, and not at all like a manic episode. This is why so many cases of bipolar disorder take a long time to correctly diagnose. While many people believe bipolar disorder is characterized by frequent mood swings, it more often looks like long episodes of depression broken up by shorter episodes of mania or hypomania. Manic episodes may be as short as a few days or they may last weeks. Anyone struggling with both bipolar disorder and addiction should find a treatment program that can handle the dual diagnosis. Bipolar makes people especially prone to leaving treatment early because they experience a manic episode and believe they no longer need treatment. Of course, if they do leave in the middle of a manic episode, they are prone to risky behavior that endangers their recovery. Treating both bipolar and addiction requires an experienced medical staff that can help the patient find the right combination of medication and therapy.
If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction and bipolar disorder, we can help. Recovery Ways is a premier drug and alcohol addiction treatment facility located in Salt Lake City, Utah. We have the resources to effectively treat a dual diagnosis. Our mission is to provide the most cost-effective, accessible substance abuse treatment to as many people as possible. Request information online or call us today at 1-888-986-7848.