Bipolar I disorder, also known as bipolar disorder and formerly known as manic depression, is a mental health disorder that creates a number of noticeable issues in the person’s day-to-day experience of life and ability to handle different issues. Many patients struggle with:
- Mood swings
- Fluctuations in energy
- Fluctuations in activity level
- Inability to manage daily tasks and responsibilities
Though everyone may struggle with these issues from time to time or during stressful periods, patients who are living with bipolar disorder suffer to the extreme. They are unable to control their feelings or behaviors and often have a difficult time maintaining positive relationships or building a successful career as a result. Some patients also struggle with substance abuse, which only worsens their mental health symptoms and may increase the risk of suicide among those who don’t seek treatment.
Signs of Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar I disorder is characterized by mixed episodes or manic episodes that require hospitalization or last for at least a week. Depressive episodes are also often problematic for bipolar I patients; these typically last for a minimum of two weeks.
These moods are exceptionally different from the person’s usual behaviors and are very extreme. Manic episodes, for example, are defined by:
- Feeling high or exceptionally happy and outgoing
- High levels of irritation
- Talking quickly
- Being easily distracted
- Low appetite
- Having little interest in sleeping
- Impulsive behavior
Signs of depressive episodes include:
- Sadness or melancholy
- Lack of interest in normal activities
- Low energy, heavy fatigue
- Difficulty concentrating
- Altered sleeping or eating habits
- Suicidal thoughts or behaviors
When a mood episode is characterized by symptoms of both a depressive state and a manic state, it is called a mixed episode. These, too, are common among those who are living with bipolar I disorder.
Bipolar I and Substance Abuse
It can be frustrating to deal with the constant and extreme mood swings that define bipolar I disorder. Additionally, the consequences of erratic and uncontrolled behavior can be difficult to process. Many turn to drugs and alcohol to deal with the tough emotions and feelings of isolation.
In other cases, patients may enjoy the upswing in energy they experience cyclically with the manic episodes of their bipolar disorder. Some will take substances to extend that feeling, using stimulant drugs like crystal meth or cocaine in an attempt to continue to stay up and focus on projects or stay social.
In still other cases, the depression experienced by those who are diagnosed with bipolar disorder can be overwhelming. In an attempt to escape these feelings, they may drink heavily or use other drugs.
Unfortunately, no matter what the intent, the result of drug and alcohol abuse is always a worsening of the situation, with increased health problems, more erratic behavior, and an even more difficult time connecting with loved ones.
Treatment Options for Bipolar I Disorder
When bipolar disorder is an issue, it is disruptive to the patient’s life and treatment is necessary. When substance abuse is also problematic, a Dual Diagnosis rehabilitation program that treats both conditions is the best option for recovery.
Even with medication management, bipolar symptoms may still be an issue for many patients. It can take time to get the right dose and combination of medications to successfully address bipolar symptoms, and integrative treatment that includes therapy and holistic care to address the substance abuse problem as well is necessary for continued growth in recovery from bipolar disorder for the long term.
Contact our admissions coordinators today at the phone number listed above to learn more the options available to your family member in Dual Diagnosis treatment and care.
Further Reading About Bipolar-I
- A Symptoms Checklist
- Bipolar Disorder and Klonopin Abuse
- Bipolar II
- Cyclothymic Disorder
- Intervention for Manic Episodes
- Isolation and Bipolar Disorder
- Mixed Bipolar Disorder
- Protecting Your Children by Finding Healing for Yourself
- Rapid-Cycling Bipolar Disorder
- Self-Absorption and Bipolar Disorder
- Stimulant Use
- Substance Abuse and the Risk of Suicidal Ideation
- The Costs of Bipolar Treatment Services
- Untreated Bipolar Disorder Can Lead to Increased Risk of Domestic Violence
David W. Newton is a board certified pharmacist and also has been a board member for boards of examiners for the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy since 1983. His areas of expertise are primarily pharmaceuticals as well as cannabinoids. You can read an article about his expertise in CBD on the National Library of Medicine.
Reviewed by: Kim Chin and Marian Newton