Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition and a subtype of mood disorder. It has been diagnosed in nearly 2.3 million people in the United States, but the number of undiagnosed cases is estimated to be even higher. Bipolar disorder is characterized by periods of high mood called manic episodes and periods of low mood called depressive episodes. There are three general types of bipolar disorder. These are bipolar 1, bipolar 2, and cyclothymia.
Have you been diagnosed with bipolar disorder? It’s important that you learn about the link between this disorder and alcohol use. Here’s what you should consider before you take your next drink.
What are the symptoms of bipolar disorder that are important to know about?
The symptoms of bipolar disorder can vary depending on the type and what kind of episode a person is experiencing, mania or depression. Some symptoms may appear less intense in those with bipolar type 2. The most common symptoms of mania bipolar disorder include:
- Increases in energy — One common symptom in someone experiencing a manic episode is a significant increase in their energy levels. They may feel as if they can physically perform more tasks during the day and feel renewed energy.
- Grandiosity — Another common symptom during a manic episode is demonstration of a grandiose sense of self in which they feel like they feel superior to others and that they can accomplish anything.
- Increases in impulsivity — Along with increases in confidence will often come increases in impulsivity. A person going through an episode of mania may be more likely to impulsively perform various activities that they otherwise would not. One example is spending large amounts of money all at once.
Symptoms of depression episodes include:
- Low mood — A symptom of a depressive episode is extremely low mood. For some, this may look like hopelessness, sadness and even thoughts of ending one’s life.
- Periods of lethargy — Depressive episodes are also often associated with periods of lethargy. This can look like having difficulty concentrating, having little to no energy, and excessive sleepiness.
What is important to know about bipolar disorder and alcohol use?
Bipolar disorder and alcohol use disorder are often comorbid conditions. Here’s what you need to know about the links between the two:
- People with bipolar disorder have an increased risk of substance use disorder (SUD) — People with bipolar disorder have a high risk of developing a substance use disorder. Studies show that anywhere from 35% to 60% of people with bipolar disorder also have some form of substance use disorder. The general population has a much lower rate of SUD, estimated to be around 16.5% of the population. Many develop their SUD as a coping mechanism but find that their alcohol use only exacerbates their symptoms. Some use alcohol to self-medicate and independently manage their symptoms, although this is not usually effective.
- Alcohol can make the symptoms of bipolar disorder worse — Alcohol is a substance that has a sedative-like effect on those who consume it. For people with bipolar disorder, the sedative effect may seem to mellow out symptoms during an episode of mania. It doesn’t always work well as a sedative, though. Many people experience increased volatility while drinking during a manic episode. During a depressive episode, binge drinking may temporarily boost mood. However, general consumption of alcohol during a depressive episode can intensify depressive symptoms like hopelessness and low mood. Research demonstrates that the symptoms of bipolar disorder can worsen by alcohol use. Repeated use to self-medicate can lead to dependency on alcohol.
- Alcohol use and bipolar disorder can increase the risk of certain conditions — Alcoholism and bipolar disorder can increase the risk of volatility, depression and the desire to end one’s life. Using alcohol with bipolar disorder can quickly become out of control and even become dangerous for some.
Let Lightfully be the one to treat your bipolar disorder symptoms effectively
Our mission at Lightfully is to provide high-quality mental health care to various types of clients. We believe in using a focused approach to process-based therapy. The framework of our clinic consists of evidence-based, clearly defined, data-driven and whole-person-centered care. We have experience working with various mental health disorders, especially bipolar disorder. That’s why we’re confident that we can provide the treatment you need.
Lightfully offers various levels of care to both adults and teens: Residential Treatment, Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), and Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP), also referred to as our Day Treatment Program. We also offer a Virtual Intensive Outpatient Program (vIOP) for adults. We meet each client where they are and can help them determine the most likely cause of their bipolar disorder. From there, we help them manage their symptoms by creating a customized treatment plan designed to address their specific needs.
Change is possible. When you’re ready to take the first step, reach out to our Admissions Concierge Team. We’ll take the next steps together, toward the fullest, brightest version of you.