The highs are too high and the lows are too low. That might be the best way to describe bipolar disorder. But do you suffer from this mental health issue? It can be hard to diagnose but let’s look deeper into a common concurrent disease to substance abuse and other mental disorders. If you are suffering from this disorder and not diagnosed, it can derail any kind of other treatment for mental disorders and substance abuse.
WHAT IS BIPOLAR DISORDER?
Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that has four different stages or types that combine various symptoms. You may suffer from what we call manic episodes where you have intense activity and may not be able to sleep. You may engage in impulsive behavior and take risks you normally wouldn’t. Excessive shopping, gambling, or any other form of indulgence might characterize a manic episode.
On the other hand, very often those manic episodes can be balanced with periods of depression. Some types of bipolar disorder only feature depression and can be referred to as a unipolar disorder. This is not dependent on events that happen to you, but physiological changes that create a depressive state.
THE FOUR TYPES OF BIPOLAR DISORDER
- Bipolar I disorder: Bipolar I disorder is characterized by at least one manic episode and you may or may not have had an episode of depression. In rare cases, a manic episode can trigger a break from reality and a major psychotic episode, but it’s usually manifested as intense activity and impulsiveness.
- Bipolar II disorder: This is not a more intense or milder form than bipolar I, but a distinct diagnosis. Major depression occurs and what some people like to refer to as hypomania, which is a milder version of mania. This type of bipolar disorder means you’ve never had a full-blown manic episode.
- Cyclothymic disorder: Like bipolar II disorder, manic periods are absent, but you may have suffered multiple episodes of hypomania and also multiple episodes of depression. They occur multiple times in a cycle that lasts for at least two years in adults and one year in children and teenagers.
- Other miscellaneous types: This includes an assortment of symptoms that don’t fit in any of the three main categories. Some forms may be related to drug or alcohol use. Certain medical conditions may also trigger bipolar symptoms such as stroke or multiple sclerosis.
SYMPTOMS RELATED TO BIPOLAR DISORDER
The onset of bipolar disorder in its many forms can occur at any age but usually presents itself in our teens or twenties. Hypomania is a milder form of mania, but when it escalates to full-blown mania, may require psychiatric hospitalization.
Symptoms of mania and hypomania include increased energy and activity, but may manifest as agitation or aggression. You may make impulsive and poor decisions so you engage in risky behavior. You might talk for hours and jump from topic to topic because your thoughts are racing. You may have such increased energy during a manic episode that you forego sleep. You can’t focus on one thing for too long before being distracted by the next shiny object.
On the other side of the equation, depressive episodes can be so severe they interfere with daily life. Feelings of sadness, melancholy, loss of hope are all typical depression symptoms. You may also experience changes in weight or appetite even if you aren’t trying to lose weight. Depression can include a lack of interest in anything and finding no pleasure in things you once enjoyed. You don’t know what to do and can’t make decisions. In its most severe form, depression can manifest as suicidal ideation.
Symptoms of both mania and depression can be triggered by a major change in our life, such as pregnancy. It can also be triggered by something most of us see as relatively minor, such as the change of seasons. You never know what may trigger an episode.
Bipolar disorder can be hard to diagnose simply because the traditional medical health community often doesn’t understand mental illness and tends to overlook symptoms, and children and teens are the most overlooked with a diagnosis. Even medical professionals often attribute their behavior to the normal highs and lows of childhood and adolescence instead of a mental health crisis.
When bipolar disorder escalates to suicidal thoughts it’s always an emergency requiring immediate medical intervention. Remember impulsiveness is one symptom of this disorder and that makes them more likely to act on those thoughts.
Once you are diagnosed and medications prescribed, you need to take them as ordered and don’t stop them without consulting a doctor just because you are feeling better. Remember that is part of the cycle and those medications can prevent going over the edge again.
Bipolar disorder can be hard to diagnose and can manifest in several different forms. Some people have manic episodes and some have major depressive disorders. Some have both. Many people who have substance abuse problems are diagnosed as bipolar when they go into treatment. This may be because mental health professionals understand that condition and can make a diagnosis better than many medical doctors can. Mental health has been overlooked for too long in this country but we’re starting to see celebrities doing commercials for telehealth mental services. This is an important indicator that we’re progressing when it comes to mental health, but we still have a long way to go. Everlast Recovery Center treats bipolar disorders as well as substance abuse. Our facility in Riverside, CA allows you the time and space to address your mental or physical needs in a home-like atmosphere through counseling and holistic therapy. Let us help you regain the balance to lead a healthy life. Call (800) 338-6925 today.