Author: Alex Thompson

5 Things to Know About Bipolar Disorder and Alcohol Use

Manic Depression and Alcoholism

To diagnose AUD, a medical or mental health professional will conduct a thorough assessment, including exploring a person’s psychological and physical health history. They will also gather information about a person’s past and current behavior with alcohol and other substances. Many people with the condition abuse alcohol or other drugs when manic or depressed. People with bipolar disorder are more likely to have seasonal depression, co-existing anxiety disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Doctors often diagnose and treat bipolar disorder and AUD separately.

To receive a diagnosis of bipolar 1 disorder, you must have experienced at least one episode of mania. This episode may precede or follow an episode of depression, but isn’t necessary. In the United States, about 4.4 percent of adults will experience bipolar disorder at some point in their lives, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. A bipolar diagnosis is described as type 1 or 2, depending on the severity of symptoms. If someone has both conditions, it matters which condition appears first. People who receive a diagnosis of AUD may recover faster than people who first receive a diagnosis of bipolar disorder.

Manic Depression and Alcoholism

Even if you don’t think you have an alcohol use disorder, drinking while living with this condition is risky. Seek treatment for bipolar disorder and talk to your doctor or therapist about drinking and how to stop. A plan for ongoing treatment or strategies to avoid drinking after a stay in residential treatment will help you avoid relapsing. It is hard work to go through treatment for both bipolar disorder and alcohol use disorder, but if you put in the time and effort it really can be effective.

Treatment for bipolar disorder and alcohol use disorder

Individuals with a first-degree family member, such as a parent or sibling, who has bipolar disorder are more likely to develop the condition. More than 2 million adults in the U.S. are coping with bipolar disorder right now. For example, sometimes it can simply be a matter of genetics, meaning you have it because it runs in your family. The way your brain develops may also play a role, but scientists aren’t exactly sure how or why.

The timing of symptoms may include diagnostic labels such as mixed or rapid cycling. In addition, bipolar symptoms may occur during pregnancy or change with the seasons. Although bipolar disorder can occur at any age, typically it’s diagnosed in the teenage years or early 20s. Symptoms can vary from person to person, and symptoms may vary over time. For bipolar disorder, medication and a mix of individual or group therapy have shown to be effective treatments.

Manic Depression and Alcoholism

Women are more likely to have this type of illness course than men, and it can come and go at any time in the course of bipolar disorder. Rapid cycling is driven largely by depression and carries an increased risk for suicidal thoughts or behaviors. If you or someone you know has symptoms of bipolar disorder, talk to your family doctor or a psychiatrist. They will ask questions about mental illnesses that you, or the person you’re concerned about, have had, and any mental illnesses that run in the family. The person will also get a complete psychiatric evaluation to tell if they have likely bipolar disorder or another mental health condition. Children and teens may have distinct major depressive or manic or hypomanic episodes, but the pattern can vary from that of adults with bipolar disorder.

Manic Symptoms and Alcohol

Having bipolar disorder and alcohol use disorder, known as “dual diagnosis,” requires help from a specialist who can address both issues. The combination of bipolar disorder and AUD can have severe consequences if left untreated. People with both conditions are likely to have more severe symptoms of bipolar disorder. If you or someone you care about has bipolar disorder and is struggling with drinking, take steps to get help as soon as possible.

  1. People who struggle with any substance use disorder and have bipolar are less likely to stick with their treatment.
  2. Medications help manage symptoms, but it can take some time to find one that works well for you and minimizes side effects.
  3. For both conditions, a healthcare provider usually performs a physical and psychological health assessment.
  4. Approximately 2.6% of people in the United States have bipolar disorder.

Because of this, people with both conditions may not get the full treatment they need at first. Even when researchers study bipolar disorder or AUD, they tend to look at just one condition at a time. There’s been a recent trend to consider treating both conditions simultaneously, using medications and other therapies that treat each condition. It’s important to be aware of this connection if you struggle with bipolar disorder. It may be tempting to drink in order to manage symptoms and mood changes, but the risks are high.

Consuming alcohol while feeling depressed can intensify lethargy and reduce inhibitions. With dedication and the help of your health care providers, you can feel better again. People who have bipolar disorder can have periods in which they feel overly happy and energized and other periods of feeling very sad, hopeless, and sluggish. You can think of the highs and the lows as two “poles” of mood, which is why it’s called “bipolar” disorder.

For people with bipolar disorder, caution is warranted even with moderate alcohol consumption. Alcohol is a depressant that disrupts chemical messengers in the brain, which may lead to worsened depressive symptoms or trigger hypomania or mania. It is thought that the genes that increase the risk of bipolar disorder may be the same genes that influence alcohol addiction.

Treating Bipolar Disorder and Alcohol Addiction

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Understanding Bipolar Disorder

It can take a while to find the right combination for you. You may need to try a few things before you and your doctor figure out what works best. Once you do, it’s important to stay on your medication and talk with your doctor before stopping or changing anything. If you think your child might have bipolar disorder, ask your doctor for a referral to a child psychologist who’s familiar with bipolar disorder.

It is important to understand the risks, to know the facts, and to be cautious about drinking when living with bipolar disorder. People with bipolar disorder and alcohol use disorder should work closely with a healthcare provider to determine the best medication regimen to manage symptoms. If you have any symptoms of depression or mania, see your doctor or mental health professional. Getting treatment from a mental health professional with experience in bipolar disorder can help you get your symptoms under control. Although bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition, you can manage your mood swings and other symptoms by following a treatment plan. In most cases, bipolar disorder is treated with medications and psychological counseling (psychotherapy).

Bipolar disorder is defined by mood episodes that fluctuate between highs and lows. When coupled with alcohol use disorder, symptoms of either condition may worsen. There are a variety of treatment options, including talk therapy and medication, to treat these conditions separately or as they co-occur. With a combination of things — good medical care, medication, talk therapy, lifestyle changes, and the support of friends and family — you can feel better. Bipolar disorder — or manic depression, as it is also still sometimes called — has no known  cure. It is a chronic health condition that requires lifetime management.