The idea that people suffering from mental disorders are automatically more violent than the general population has been established as a myth, a stereotype that, thankfully, is being shattered. And yet, there are several aspects of untreated bipolar disorder than can lead to an increased risk of domestic violence.
This is a confusing and frightening situation with emotional and physical repercussions for all involved, so it’s important to understand a few basic facts about bipolar disorder and why treatment is a significant, important step who anyone who might be struggling.
What Is Bipolar Disorder Exactly?
The brain uses an intricate system of chemical signals to manage emotional functions in the central nervous system.
Tiny changes in the level of these chemicals are directly related to the following critical functions:
- Positive and negative feelings
- The formation and recollection of memories
- Impulse control
- Anxiety and stress management
When individuals suffer from an imbalance or deficiency in this chemical system, they may experience moments marked by extreme depression and times of emotional mania.
Some of the most common symptoms of depression include: emotional numbness, persistent sadness, crying, lack of motivation, feelings of hopelessness and despair and suicidal thoughts, words or actions, while common symptoms of bipolar mania have a few distinct differences.
In addition to emotional outbursts, you might notice a recklessness or lack of responsibility in making decisions, including those that involve sexual behavior, spending money or using drugs and alcohol. Those dealing with bipolar mania may find little need for sleep, lack personal culpability for their actions, they may verbally abuse others and have an irrationally elevated mood.
Bipolar individuals tend to move from one of these emotional extremes to the other. They often fail to receive treatment because during depressive episodes they don’t believe there is any hope to feel better, and during manic times they don’t feel that they need any help. Spouses and loved ones tend to live with a combination of fear and uncertainty as a result.
Bipolar Disorder and Domestic Violence
Individuals with untreated bipolar disorder are at an increased risk for violent behavior for the following reasons:
- Substance abuse often fuels domestic violence.
- Mania can cause impulse control disorders.
- Reckless sexual behavior can cause injury to the bipolar person’s partner.
- Major depression can cause suicidal thoughts or actions.
Because of the constantly volatile nature of the disease, bystanders are often unsure how to prepare themselves and how to encourage their loved one to get help.
If you are living with a bipolar individual and are concerned for your safety or the safety of your loved one, please call our toll-free helpline at 844-675-1221. Our admission counselors can help you understand the implications and risks associated with this disease and can connect you with excellent recovery resources. If you feel that you are in immediate danger, please dial 911 before doing anything else.
Further Reading About 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.