Bipolar disorder (also known as manic depressive disorder) is a type of mental illness characterized by alternating episodes of depression and elevated mood. It affects about 5 percent of the population at some point in their lives. While most people with bipolar disorder experience mild symptoms, some will experience severe episodes that include delusions, paranoia, and hallucinations. Bipolar disorder is more common in women than men and tends to run in families. Bipolar disorder and alcohol dependency are often found together because they both have a strong link with emotional highs, including those triggered by drinking alcohol. If you have one or both of these conditions, it can be very difficult to feel happy or cope with your emotions while simultaneously trying to avoid substances that can trigger your mood swings or lead to excessive drinking. Luckily, treatment of either condition helps you find ways to cope with the challenges they present and reduce their impact on your life.
What is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder is a serious mental illness characterized by episodes of elevated and depressed mood. During these periods, a person may feel excessively happy or irritable, have increased energy, and feel the desire to engage in high-risk activities such as spending sprees, overworking, or risky sex. Approximately 5 percent of the population has bipolar disorder, and it is twice as common in women than men. These episodes can last anywhere from a few days to several months and tend to occur at irregular intervals, although some people have a more prolonged pattern. In mild cases, a person may experience one or two episodes per year. In severe cases, a person may have more frequent episodes that are less severe, but they can be more frequent and last longer. There are two types of bipolar disorder: bipolar I disorder and bipolar II disorder. Bipolar I disorder has type I and type II episodes, whereas type II occurs less often and is less severe. People with type II disorder have one or more type II episodes and then often experience clinical depression or a type I episode. The cause of bipolar disorder is not known. It seems to run in families, and some researchers think it could be due to an imbalance in the release of certain neurotransmitters in the brain.
BPD and Bipolar Disorder and Addiction
The relationship between bipolar disorder and substance abuse is often a complicated one. On one hand, having bipolar disorder can make it more difficult to avoid substances that can trigger mood swings or result in excessive drinking. On the other hand, people with bipolar disorder may also have a higher need for stimulation than others, meaning that they may find some substances to be more enjoyable or interesting than others, even if they are using them to excess. As with addiction to any substance, the root cause of this pattern of behavior is a brain that has changed in such a way that it craves the substance, even when it is harmful to your health and relationships. What this means for you is that you cannot change the cause of your substance abuse without help from a mental health professional. You can, however, work with a mental health professional to develop strategies for avoiding substances that trigger your bipolar disorder and excessive drinking.
The Connection Between Emotional Highs and BPD and Addiction
The link between bipolar disorder and addiction is complicated and often difficult to untangle. On one hand, bipolar disorder can make it harder to avoid substances that trigger mood swings or lead to excessive drinking. On the other hand, people with bipolar disorder may also have a higher need for stimulation than others, meaning that they may find some substances to be more enjoyable or interesting than others. Whether these two factors are linked or whether they are separate issues is not clear. What is clear is that people with bipolar disorder are at an elevated risk of developing substance abuse, and it is important to seek help if you are concerned about this risk. Addiction is a chronic pattern of behavior that involves a strong compulsion to engage in a behavior despite negative consequences. It is characterized by denial of the harm the behavior causes, an inability to control the behavior, and a strong desire to engage in the behavior despite knowing better. People with BPD and some types of substance abuse may share some common factors that contribute to the development of addiction. These factors may include: - Difficulty Accepting Emotions - People with BPD are often highly sensitive to their feelings and may struggle to accept situations or thoughts that make them sad or angry without becoming angry or resentful. - Decreased Awareness of How Substance is Affecting Them - People with BPD may be less able to notice the negative effects of their substance use than people without this condition. - Difficulty Expressing Emotions - People with BPD may find it hard to talk about the things that are bothering them or feelings that are strong enough to cause them distress.
Symptoms of Depression and BPD
Many people who have bipolar disorder experience periods of depression. Although mild episodes of depression do not require treatment, severe episodes can be debilitating and require professional treatment for several weeks, months, or years. In addition to experiencing periods of low mood, people with depression may also: - Have an increased desire to sleep or exercise more than usual. - Have a loss of interest in their usual activities, including sex, work, or hobbies. - Feel restless, anxious, or irritable. - Have a decreased ability to focus on their usual tasks. - Feel hopeless or helpless. People with bipolar disorder may also experience symptoms of mania, such as: - Increased energy and pressured speech. - Irritability or rage that is out of proportion to the situation. - Excessive talking or talking about extreme and unrealistic topics. - Spending sprees, including the unnecessary purchase of items such as cars or expensive gifts for family or friends. - Having more sex than usual or engaging in abusive or risky sex.
Helping People with Depression or BPD and Addictions
People with bipolar disorder or depression may turn to alcohol or other substances to help them cope with their low mood. It is important for you to recognize that this behavior is unhelpful and dangerous. You should consider seeking treatment for your substance use and consider the following treatment options: - therapy for substance abuse. - self-help groups. - medication. People with BPD or substance abuse may benefit from a combination of therapies that help them identify and manage their emotions, accept the patterns of their thought, and develop coping skills that help them deal with life's challenges. If you have bipolar disorder or depression and are using substances to cope with your symptoms, you should consider the following: - This only distracts you from your real problems and will not solve them. - This will make your condition worse, not better. - This can be dangerous if you are driving or operating machinery. - This will make you feel depressed and discouraged, and you may have less energy to deal with your substance use. - This will increase the likelihood that you will become dependent on substances that are harder to kick once you become addicted. - This will not help you feel better in the long run.
Recovery from substance dependence takes hard work and perseverance, but it can be done. If you have a mental health condition, you should seek treatment as soon as possible. This will help you address any underlying issues that contribute to substance abuse and help you develop better coping skills to deal with emotions and stress in your life. You can also make an important contribution to your recovery by working with a mental health professional to develop strategies for avoiding substances that trigger your mood swings and excessive drinking, and make healthy decisions that support your overall wellness and well-being. If you are willing to make these changes, you can overcome your substance use and make a positive change in your life.
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