Bipolar disorder is among the co-occurring mental health disorders that may accompany substance use disorders and must be treated concurrently.
Bipolar disorder is a psychiatric disorder characterized by intense mood swings that include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression). A person with this disorder may feel sad or even hopeless when they become depressed and lose interest in most activities. When they are in a mania or hypomania state, they may experience feelings of euphoria, energy, or excessive irritability. These mood swings affect people’s sleeping patterns, energy levels, behavior, judgment, and clarity of thinking.
Major Depressive Episode
An episode of major depression entails symptoms that substantially hinder one’s ability to function on a regular basis, such as at work, school, in social settings, or in relationships. Bipolar disorder is frequently misdiagnosed when patients are in a depressive state. A major depressive episode consists of five or more of the following symptoms:
- Depressed mood, including a sense of sadness, hopelessness, or tearfulness
- A marked decline in interest or enjoyment of almost all activities
- Significant loss or gain of weight while not dieting or intentionally trying to gain
- Sleeping too much or insomnia
- Slowed behavior or restlessness
- Fatigue or lack of energy
- Inappropriate guilt or feelings of worthlessness
- Indecisiveness or decrease in the ability to think or concentrate
- Having a plan for, attempting, or thinking about suicide
Mania and Hypomania
Both mania and hypomania episodes feature these symptoms.
- Abnormally excited, jumpy, or wired
- An increase in activity, vigor, or agitation
- An exaggerated feeling of self-confidence and wellbeing (euphoria)
- A reduced need for sleep
- Hyperverbal or excessive talkativeness
- Racing thoughts
- Lack of judgment such as shopping sprees, sexual risks, or outlandish investments
Other Characteristics of Bipolar Disorder
Anxiety, melancholy, psychosis, and other features may accompany signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder. These symptoms may occur during pregnancy or change seasonally.
Bipolar patients may enjoy periods of euphoria or periods of greater productivity. However, this euphoria is almost always followed by an emotional crash, leaving one depressed, drained, and potentially in legal or financial difficulty. Despite the mood fluctuations, people with this disorder are often unaware of how much they interfere with their lives and the lives of their loved ones.
Both men and women are affected equally by bipolar disorder. Those who suffer from this illness are unlikely to make a meaningful recovery from addiction without medical treatment of the disorder. The onset of this mental health disease usually begins between the ages of 15-25. Alcohol or other prescribed drugs should never be mixed with medications meant to control bipolar disorder. In fact, bipolar episodes may be triggered by illegal drug use or the misuse of prescribed drugs.
There are different levels and types of bipolar disorder.
- Bipolar Disorder Type 1 diagnosis includes at least one manic episode and periods of major depression. This used to be labeled “manic depression.”
- Bipolar Type 2 patients have not experienced full-blown mania, but instead, they experience periodic high-energy periods and impulsiveness. These “high” periods alternate with the “lows” of depression.
- Cyclothymia is a mild form of bipolar disorder that is often misdiagnosed as depression.
Origins has over 35 years of experience treating patients with co-occurring disorders. Origins knows that people can and do recover with the proper care.
Co-occurring Disorders are Complex – Integrated Treatment Is Key
Integrated treatment is a comprehensive approach that offers all of the therapeutic resources needed to help the individual heal physically, mentally, and spiritually. Addiction has no single cause, although the presence of mental health disorders may increase the risk of developing a substance use disorder — and vice versa. Each person is different. In some cases, a mental health disorder may precede the onset of drug or alcohol use. Other times, mental health symptoms aren’t apparent until after addiction sets in; then, mental health conditions are made worse or exacerbated by substance use.
For people with co-occurring disorders, a comprehensive treatment plan should include:
- Evidence-based therapies
- Medical care (including medication, when appropriate)
- Psychiatric services and ongoing care
- Case management
- Family education and programming
- Life skills training
- Continuing care planning
Every patient deserves a treatment plan tailored to their individual needs, including people with bipolar disorder. Origins offers treatment plans designed with all aspects of a person’s wellbeing in mind: body, mind, and spirit.
At Origins, each patient undergoes comprehensive behavioral health assessments to ensure that all co-occurring substance use disorders and mental health disorders are diagnosed and treated.
We also provide intensive psychological testing through Origins Center for Brain Recovery in Florida. We offer tests such as:
- Personality Inventory for DSM-5—Brief Form (PID-5-BF)
- CNS VS (Central Nervous System Vital Signs)
- MMPI-2 (Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2)
- MCMI (Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory)
With clinical interviews and sessions with their primary therapists, a detailed assessment lays the groundwork for tailored treatment plans to meet each patient’s unique needs.
Co-occurring disorders must be treated simultaneously, in the same place, and by the same treatment team to be effective. Our multi-disciplinary, medically intensive program offers co-occurring disorders treatment by our highly trained professionals. Our treatment teams treat not only the physical and mental needs of our patients but also their psychological and spiritual needs. Our highly trained staff — from our medical professionals to our licensed therapists and psychiatrists — meets every day to discuss patient cases and develop solutions. This specialized, integrated treatment model has been shown to improve outcomes, with an improved quality of life.
Co-occurring disorders can exacerbate and influence each other, which makes successful treatment more challenging. Our health psychology department, Origins Center for Brain Recovery in Florida, is an innovative program that provides specialized, evidence-based therapy treatments to address brain health. CBR services address the connection between addiction and mental health disorders and offer treatment to simultaneously address both conditions, providing our patients with a better chance for long-lasting recovery.
Learn more about Origins Center for Brain Recovery here.
People Can and Do Recover
Although there is no cure for any mental health disorder, including addiction and bipolar disorder, many people succeed in leading incredible lives filled with hope and courage. Many research-based therapies and treatment interventions have proven to effectively treat individuals living with co-occurring diagnoses. The key is receiving integrated, intensive, personalized treatment. When long-term support and therapeutic interventions are provided, individuals with co-occurring disorders are able to recover.
At Origins, we recognize that co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders are connected and must be treated simultaneously. Recovery centers on mental, physical, psychological, and spiritual wellbeing.