Dual Diagnosis // Bi-Polar 
Bi-Polar Disorder

Overview of Bi-Polar Disorder

Bipolar disorder, formerly known as “manic depression,” can be defined as a mental health condition where you experience extreme mood swings, from emotional highs (also referred to as mania or hypomania) to lows (depression). The mood swings from bipolar disorder can cause significant disruption in your life.  

There are a few different types of bipolar disorder. 

  • Bipolar I disorder: You've had at least one manic episode that may be preceded or followed by hypomanic or major depressive episodes. Mania may sometimes trigger a break from reality (psychosis).

  • Bipolar II disorder: You've had at least one major depressive episode and at least one hypomanic episode, but you've never had a manic episode.

  • Cyclothymic disorder: You've had at least two years — or one year in children and teenagers — of many periods of hypomania symptoms and periods of depressive symptoms (though less severe than major depression).

  • Other types: These include, for example, bipolar and related disorders induced by certain drugs or alcohol or due to a medical condition, such as Cushing's disease, multiple sclerosis or stroke.

Bipolar II disorder is not a milder form of bipolar I disorder, but a separate diagnosis. While the manic episodes of bipolar I disorder can be severe and dangerous, individuals with bipolar II disorder can be depressed for longer periods, which can cause significant impairment.

 

Information provided by The Mayo Clinic.

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

There are 4 types of episodes people with bipolar disorder may experience. These include:
 

  • Manic Episodes: During a manic episode, someone with bipolar disorder may be excessively cheerful or hostile. These episodes last a week or more and may require hospitalization.

  • Hypomanic Episodes: There are only subtle differences between hypomanic and manic episodes. The main difference is that hypomanic episodes are shorter, lasting at least 4 days, and are less severe.
    Major Depressive Episodes: These episodes leave people depressed and/or uninterested in activities. A person’s depressed mood has to last at least 2 weeks to meet the clinical definition of an episode. 

  • Mixed Episodes: Some people with bipolar disorder have mixed episodes. These episodes include traits of manic, hypomanic, and major depressive episodes

Bi-Polar Symptoms continued

Manic Episode Symptoms

  • Abnormally upbeat, jumpy or wired

  • Increased activity, energy or agitation

  • Exaggerated sense of well-being and self-confidence (euphoria)

  • Decreased need for sleep

  • Unusual talkativeness

  • Racing thoughts

  • Distractibility

  • Poor decision-making

Depressive Episode Symptoms

  • Depressed mood

  • Marked loss of interest or feeling no pleasure in all — or almost all — activities

  • Significant weight loss when not dieting, weight gain, or decrease or increase in appetite 

  • Either insomnia or sleeping too much

  • Either restlessness or slowed behavior

  • Fatigue or loss of energy

  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt

  • Decreased ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness

  • Thinking about, planning or attempting suicide

Information provided by The Mayo Clinic.

Co-Occurring Bipolar Disorder & Addiction

It has often been seen that people suffering from bipolar disorder also suffer from a substance use disorder (SUD) or drug addiction.  While the two are often linked together, it is entirely circumstantial.  The particular circumstances that individuals experience throughout their lives direct them to start using substances as a form of “self-care”.  In other words, people who are bipolar could start using drugs or alcohol to help manage their symptoms.  This can increase their symptoms and result in their bipolar worsening and/or begin to fuel a full-on drug or alcohol addiction.  

Substance-Induced Bipolar Disorder

Drug and alcohol abuse causes the brain to rewire itself.  Mainly, the reward system that gives drugs their pleasurable and desirable effects.  These changes in the brain cause the addict to think, act, and operate in a drug-seeking fashion.  Often resulting in a form of co-occurring bipolar disorder.

Diagnosing Co-Occurring Bipolar Disorder

Getting a proper diagnosis for this is difficult since the abuse of drugs and alcohol can have very similar effects on the brain when being compared to the symptoms of bipolar disorder.  Doctors diagnose bipolar disorder through several tests to help distinguish between bipolar disorder and addiction.


Getting treatment for co-occurring disorders involves taking on both problems at once.  This is primarily done at an inpatient treatment center.  At LA Valley Recovery, we offer a Dual-Diagnosis treatment program that does just that.  You will be given the proper treatment for your drug addiction while learning how to cope with your mental illness at the same time.  We have more information on our Dual-Diagnosis page that you can check out, here.

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