Bipolar disorder, which has been previously labeled “manic depression,” can cause significant emotional, psychological and physical harm to its sufferers. Part of the challenge of the disease is the fact that many individuals may experience the symptoms of the disorder for a long time without ever knowing they have the disease or getting diagnosed. Many of the symptoms may easily be mistaken for merely intense emotionality or facets of the individual’s personality. When people with a bipolar disorder also drink heavily or use drugs, it can further mask their bipolar symptoms, prolong issues and prevent proper diagnosis and treatment.

People with bipolar disorder tend to experience periods of euphoria and extreme energy juxtaposed with periods of depression and lethargy. These periods of intense symptoms are referred to as “episodes.” Episodes may be extremely brief or last years, and individuals may have both episodes at once, called a “mixed episode,” making a diagnosis of the disease even more difficult. While a diagnosis is often challenging and may never happen, the symptoms nevertheless take their toll, and frequently people will self-medicate to manage them.

Self-medication — using drugs and alcohol to control the symptoms of another medical condition, without seeking professional help — poses many dangers. The practice adds new symptoms, prevents the diagnosis of existing symptoms, delays treatment, further damages your emotional, psychological and physical health and invites the risk of dependency, addition and accidental death. Only professional help from a doctor, psychologist, therapist or counselor who is versed in treating mental health and substance abuse issues can help you safely and securely overcome this combination of diseases. You can get this kind of professional help at Bayview Recovery.

Signs of a Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorders have four main episodes, which each have their own core set of symptoms. These episodes are:

Mania

A manic state has many recognizable and unmistakable characteristics which often include:

  • Intense feelings
  • Alternation between extreme optimism and pessimism
  • Irritability
  • Inability to sleep
  • Rapid speech rate
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusional behavior

Hypomania

Hypomania includes similar symptoms as mania, but they present themselves differently and with lesser severity than in a manic episode. While individuals will still experience many high-intensity emotions, they can still fulfill most of their regular responsibilities acceptably. Because symptoms are so mild, people who experience lengthy hypomanic episodes or experience hypomanic episodes more than other types of episodes might not even be aware that they have a bipolar disorder.

Depression

A depressed state has many obvious and defining characteristics, including generalized sadness and despair. This condition also includes many tell-tale symptoms including:

  • Appetite loss
  • Loss of interest in activities of previous interest
  • Low self-esteem and negative self-perception
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Suicidal ideation

Mixed Episodes

When individuals experience features of each of these episodes together, they are said to be having a mixed episode. They may have racing thoughts and feel intensely depressed or hopeless at the same time, and this mix of extreme, intense and opposite emotions can take an even higher emotional toll on the individual than either one of the episodes alone. A mixed episode makes self-medicating especially tempting if the person is not getting help via another source. However, self-medicating brings with it symptoms which will complicate your mental health diagnosis, prevent effective treatment and introduce the risk of dependency, addiction and life-threatening problems.

The Challenges of Treating Bipolar Disorder and Addiction

You may have a bipolar disorder for quite some time before you even realize you have a problem. This is because many times a single episode can last months or years, and for this reason, these feelings may seem completely “normal.” The symptoms of an extremely long episode may not draw any attention at all or highlight the critical need for medical care. People who experience long episodes of hypomania can mask their symptoms even more easily and for longer periods of time because of their high-functioning nature.

Eventually, however, even individuals who experience primarily hypomanic episodes may resort to self-medicating, for example, if they have constant difficulty sleeping, which can be just as challenging to live with as long-term depression or extreme irritability. Of course, self-medicating only adds serious conditions which must also be addressed. If an individual does not become dependent or addicted to the substances they use to self-medicate, they may still suffer from the short or long-term health consequences of their drug or alcohol use. However, dependence and addiction usually do develop, because the individual’s mental health symptoms will only continue to be aggravated and their treatment delayed.

Failure to get treatment for a mental health disorder or treating it by self-medicating with drugs and alcohol never lead to a positive outcome. Each issue will only compound the other until both issues become critical to the sufferer’s health, wellbeing and survival. Only individualized therapy can help individuals manage your bipolar disorder, and therapy can only be effective after a medically-supervised detox with comprehensive rehab. Without eliminating an individual’s substance use, an accurate mental health diagnosis is frequently not possible, and on-going mental health issues will most likely create the conditions for a relapse.

Bayview Recovery’s Individualized Approach to Bipolar Disorder and Addiction Treatment

Leaving these conditions untreated can be extremely detrimental to you, your family and your loved ones. Dependency and addiction bring with them their own severe symptoms which only add to and increase your existing mental health problems, and untreated mental health problems are a primary cause of relapse in individuals trying to combat drug use. Failed recovery attempts also frequently lead to overdose and death. Substance abuse and a co-occurring bipolar disorder require professional help from doctors, psychologists and therapists experienced with addiction treatment and mental health care.

Bayview Recovery can assist your medical provider with your detox, and, once you have addressed your dependency, get you started with the mental health treatment, individualized therapy and rehab that will restore your health and prevent future problems. Rehab can help you find healthy alternatives to drug use; and individualized therapy can provide you with helpful strategies to deal with your bipolar disorder. You may even benefit from one of many safe medications to bolster your treatment.

Call Bayview Recovery at 888.570.7154 today. Bayview Recovery offers the staffing, facilities and modalities you’ll need to manage your bipolar disorder and stay free of drugs long-term.