The vast majority of people who struggle with a substance use disorder or addiction also struggle with a mental health issue. Often, this underlying mental health concern has gone undiagnosed or untreated. This prompts the individual to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol to alleviate their distress or deal with the symptoms of the mental health issue. One way this is treated is through dual diagnosis. At Ashwood Recovery, conditions like bipolar disorder can lead to addiction and worsen dependency. Thus, our bipolar disorder therapy is one way to help individuals heal.
What Is Bipolar Disorder?
People who have bipolar disorder often experience dramatic shifts in their moods. These are usually referred to as episodes, and they can happen several times throughout the week, or they can happen only a few times a year. It’s also typical for bipolar disorder to lead to energy changes and difficulty concentrating.
Experts understand that bipolar disorder is caused by the imbalance of chemicals in the brain, and they believe that genetics can also play a distinct role in it. People with bipolar disorder will generally present with one of four different episodes:
- Manic episodes – Manic episodes are characterized by expressions of intense hostility or even cheerfulness. They usually last around a week and often require that the individual be hospitalized for treatment.
- Major depressive episodes – Major depressive episodes last at least two weeks. They are characterized by severe depression that results in the individual being uninterested in any activity they usually enjoy.
- Hypomanic episodes – Hypomanic episodes are similar to manic episodes, but their duration is much shorter. They only last up to four days, and they’re not quite as severe.
- Mixed episodes – Mixed episodes are when any of the above presents in a short period. They can include traits from any of the above episodes as well.
How is Bipolar Disorder Caused?
There could be many different causes for bipolar disorder, and researchers agree that there isn’t one single reason behind it. Instead, there is a multitude of different factors that can contribute to someone being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and these might include:
- The structure and function of the brain – Studies have shown that people with bipolar disorder have different brain structures than those who don’t.
- According to various studies, genetics – People who have certain genes might be more susceptible to being diagnosed with bipolar disorder. However, this research is also interesting because cases of identical twins have been studied. One twin was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and the other was not.
- Family history – Mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder tend to run in families. If someone has a parent or sibling who has it, that individual is much more likely to be diagnosed with it.
- Substance abuse – It cannot be denied that alcohol or drug abuse can lead to a diagnosis of bipolar disorder because of how these chemicals interact with the brain.
- The environment – The environment one lives in or grows up in can also play a major role in indicating whether or not that individual will be diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Although, it’s important to note that this is much more likely to happen for those with a genetic predisposition.
What Are Some Common Signs or Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder?
Millions of people in the United States have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Of course, this does not indicate how many people currently have bipolar disorder but who have not been diagnosed with it.
Maybe that’s how you feel. You may be wondering if you have bipolar disorder, but you’ve never talked with anyone about it to get a diagnosis because of the shame you feel. Here are some symptoms and signs you can look for to help you understand whether or not bipolar disorder would fit your mental health condition:
- You have times when you feel overly happy, and these times stretch out for long periods.
- You feel as though you’re easily agitated.
- You often talk fast, and you feel like your thoughts are racing.
- You feel very restless or impulsive at times.
- You’ve engaged in risky behavior, such as doing drugs or having impulsive sex.
- You often feel sad for long periods.
- You sometimes feel like withdrawing from friends and family.
- You have times when you lack energy and feel fatigued.
- You’ve thought about committing suicide.
If you can relate to more than one of these, you may have an undiagnosed case of bipolar disorder. People with bipolar disorder are also very susceptible to becoming addicted to drugs or alcohol.