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Bipolar disorder is a common mental health disorder that causes people to have frequent, drastic, and unpredictable mood changes. This causes patients to have a hard time performing day-to-day functions. These mood swings can be triggered by events within a person’s life, excessive amounts of stress, or just the person’s normal brain chemistry. This is also a very common disorder that comes up when discussing comorbid mental health and substance use disorders. About 40% of people with bipolar disorder will have a comorbid substance use disorder. However. it is a manageable mental disorder that does not have to rule your life with proper treatment.
Types of Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder presents differently in each person. It also presents differently depending on the type of bipolar disorder a person is experiencing. There are three forms of this disorder. The symptoms of each are similar but differ in severity level. The types of bipolar disorders are the following:
- Bipolar I Disorder: Characterized as manic episodes followed by depressive episodes. Manic episodes can cause a person to believe they are wealthier than they are, invincible, or even a celebrity. It can also be so severe that the person becomes a severe danger to themselves and others needing immediate hospitalization. Depressive episodes can last for at least two weeks, but they can last for a few months.
- Bipolar II Disorder: Characterized as hypomanic episodes followed by depressive episodes. Mania experienced within Bipolar II is way milder, and it is not considered a full-blown manic episode. Hypomania tends to impact a person’s decision-making skills causing them to spend irrational amounts of money or even stay awake for multiple days in a row. The depressive episodes can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.
- Cyclothymic Disorder: This disorder typically only lasts up to at least two years, and it lasts about a year in pre and post-pubescent children. It is characterized as a period of symptoms of hypomania followed by a period of symptoms of depressive episodes. It is not a diagnosis of episodes of hypomania and depression, but rather a diagnosis of symptoms of hypomanic and depressive episodes.
Bipolar disorder can be extremely disrupting to everyday life. It can often add stress to the lives of someone’s loved ones or cause them to push someone with bipolar disorder away. Symptoms of mania and hypomania can be very overwhelming for the person dealing with it, and the people who care about them. If you or a loved one think you are experiencing symptoms of bipolar disorder, it may be useful to see a provider or counselor.
Treatments for Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder is a normal disorder. It is not something that will prevent you from living a normal life. However, it is something that you are going to have to be cognizant of when engaging in day-to-day activities. As you work with your mental health provider, you can come up with a plan of action to help you manage your bipolar disorder. You might even come up with ways to help manage individual symptoms.
There are many different treatment plans for bipolar disorder. The majority of them include medication and talk therapy. The medication that you are on can depend on the form of bipolar depression you have, but it is common for mood stabilizers, antidepressants, antianxiety, and even antipsychotics to be used. The mood stabilizers help balance the mania or hypomania a person is experiencing, while antidepressants and antianxiety medications help combat the depressive episodes and any anxiety that comes with the disorder. Lastly, antipsychotics also help with mania because they can cause people to enter psychosis. The talk therapy aspect of treatment also includes different avenues of treatment. The most common form of talk therapy is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). The other forms of talk therapy include dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), psychodynamic therapy, and humanistic therapy.
Bipolar Disorder and Substance Use Disorder
Bipolar disorder uniquely affects the brain. Due to the periods of mania, it can cause people to act outside of their norm. It can also make young people develop a norm of using drugs due to the way mania and depression lower inhibitions, mentally exhaust people, create grandiose self-images, and suicidal ideation. This makes people with bipolar disorder at a higher risk for substance use disorder because mania, hypomania, and depression can cause people to self-medicate and lean on substances. That is why such a large group of people with bipolar are affected by a comorbid substance use disorder.
Bipolar disorder with comorbid substance use is very common and treatable, albeit complicated. Here at Mountain Peak Recovery, we specialize in dual diagnosis or treatment of comorbid mental health and substance use disorders. Our beautiful facility is the perfect place to heal these disorders using inpatient care or intensive outpatient care. We will walk you through all the scary steps of treatment, support you as you work to uncover the light within that substance use disorder and bipolar disorder have hidden, and help you build a community that will support you for a lifetime. Meeting with a provider and creating the right treatment plan are the first steps to healing.
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