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Bipolar Disorder: Types, Statistics & Treatment

Bipolar disorder, a type of mental illness that causes severe psychological instability, is characterized by extreme changes in mood and energy patterns.. Anxiety disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, impulse control issues, eating disorders, cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses, and sleep apnea are among the most common co-occurring disorders in bipolar disorder. Comorbid bipolar illness and substance use disorder are not only difficult to manage, but they also raise the risk of chronic infections, harm, and suicide in patients.

Bipolar disorder produces severe changes in:

  • emotional states
  • cognitive performance
  • judgment
  • behavior
  • mood swings

Depending on the type of bipolar disease and the intensity of their episodes, people with bipolar disorder can go from depressed to manic in a matter of weeks or even days. Bipolar disorder has a wide range of consequences, including relationship problems, occupational challenges, a higher risk of suicide, and a general reduction in quality of life.

So, how does this comorbidity occur? Drug abuse leads to physical alterations in the brain. The most noticeable change is in the brain’s reward system, which makes drug use enjoyable. Changes in the reward system of the brain, on the other hand, contribute to obsessive and drug-seeking behavior. Other regions of the brain that regulate mood and behavior can be rewired by drugs. Drug use and abuse can trigger brain abnormalities that contribute to bipolar illness.

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Types of Bipolar Disorder

The following are some of the most common variations of this condition:

  • Bipolar I: People who have this type of bipolar disorder have the most dramatic transitions from mania to depression, and mood swings can be extreme. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, bipolar I depressive episodes normally last at least two weeks. This type of disorder has a high degree of functional impairment, and many of these people need to be hospitalized to ensure their safety.
  • Bipolar II: This kind of bipolar disorder is accompanied by less extreme effective swings. Depressive episodes can linger for weeks or months, and they can be followed by episodes of hypomania, a lesser version of mania. While this moderate type of condition may make it easier to function, bipolar II can nevertheless interfere with daily tasks and cause functional impairment.
  • Rapid-cycling bipolar disorder: This type of bipolar malady is marked by repeated, fast cycling episodes of mania and depression, usually four in a 12-month span. Individuals with various types of bipolar disorder may experience rapid flipping, in which their moods change rapidly. Depression may be more severe during rapid cycle phases, and self-destructive behavior and suicide attempts are more likely.
  • Cyclothymia is a mental condition marked by milder depression bouts and hypomania intervals. Depression episodes are usually shorter and less severe than those associated with bipolar I or II.
  • Individuals with bipolar illness with mixed characteristics may have symptoms of mania and depression at the same time. For instance, the person may have increased energy, insomnia, and appetite loss, as well as feelings of despair, poor self-worth, and unhappiness.

Symptoms and Effects

Bipolar disorder is difficult to diagnose, particularly in persons who use drugs or alcohol. The dramatic mood fluctuations that this psychiatric disease causes can be similar to the highs and lows that people experience when they are intoxicated or withdrawing from narcotics. Substance misuse, on the other hand, can amplify the highs and lows of bipolar disorder, making it difficult to distinguish whether the mood swings are chemically or mentally driven.

There are two telltale signs of bipolar disorder: depressive and manic symptoms:

  • Feelings of inadequacy about one’s own value
  • Sorrow and a sense of hopelessness
  • An exaggerated perception of significance or authority (grandiosity)
  • High levels of vigor and excitement

Bipolar Disorder Statistics

  • Many people with bipolar disorder have comorbid health problems, the most prevalent of which are migraines, asthma, and high cholesterol. High blood pressure, thyroid illness, and osteoarthritis were also identified as co-occurring health conditions with a high likelihood. (The British Journal of Psychiatry, 2014)
  • Bipolar disorder reduces one’s life expectancy by 9.2 years on average (National Institute of Mental Health, 2017).
  • People with bipolar disorder have a high risk of suicide, with 15 percent to 17 percent committing suicide. (Treatment Advocacy Center (TAC))
  • Substance use disorders affect up to 60% of patients with any mental health disorder, including bipolar disorder. (Source: WebMD, 2006)

What is the prevalence of bipolar disorder?

  • The lifetime prevalence of bipolar disorder was estimated to be 2.4 percent in a survey of 11 nations. In this survey, the United States reported a 1% prevalence of bipolar type I, which was significantly higher than many other countries. (Psychopharmacology: Therapeutic Advances, 2018)
  • Bipolar disorder affects 46 million people around the world. (2018, Our World in Data)
  • The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) states that 30-50 percent of people with bipolar disorder may develop a comorbid substance abuse problem at some point during their lives.
  • An approximated 2.8 percent of persons in the United States are diagnosed with bipolar illness each year (Harvard Medical School, 2007).
  • Bipolar illness patients were shown to have the highest risk of being diagnosed as having “severe” impairment of any mood condition (82.9 percent ). (2005, Archives of General Psychiatry)

Bipolar disorder by age group (statistics)

  • The average age at which symptoms appear is 25 years old. National Alliance on Mental Illness (National Alliance on Mental Illness, 2017)
  • As of 2001-2003, those aged 18 to 29 had the highest incidence of bipolar disorder (4.7%), followed by 30- to 44-year-olds (3.5%). 2007 (Harvard Medical School)

Treatment and Medications For Bipolar

Tragically, in any given year, half of those diagnosed with bipolar disorder go untreated. Even though there is no cure for bipolar disorder, the best treatment approach includes a mixture of medication and cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Bipolar Disorder and Addiction Medicine

Bipolar disorder and addiction can both benefit from medication. Medication for addiction treatment reduces cravings and alleviates withdrawal symptoms. The sort of addiction medication provided is determined on the drug of abuse used by the patient.

Medications for bipolar disorder might help a person’s mood swings and bring them back into balance. Among the drugs used to treat bipolar disorder are:

  • Benzodiazepines
  • Antipsychotics
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Lithium

Every one of these drugs can be utilized to treat either a manic or depressive phase. Because Benzodiazepines are addictive, healthcare professionals may be hesitant to prescribe them without a thorough diagnosis. There are also holistic treatment methods for bipolar disorder

Cognitive Behavior Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that addicts with co-occurring bipolar disorder can benefit from its application. CBT addresses the ideas and sensations that these people experience in a systematic way.

Addicts with bipolar disorder might have a better understanding of their activities by evaluating the emotions and opinions that drive them to manic and depressive behaviors. CBT prepares individuals for cravings and episodes, allowing them to better manage their behavior.

CBT is one of the most widely used therapies in addiction medicine, with counselors using it to treat a variety of addictions. Cognitive behavioral therapy aims to teach people how to reduce the harmful behaviors that come with substance abuse. CBT emphasizes anticipating harmful events and employing coping skills like avoidance or self-control to avoid recurrence.

Seeking Help For Bipolar Disorder and Drug Abuse

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Medical Advice Disclaimer

Magnified Health Systems aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.

This content is verified and moderated by Dr. Brendan Bickley

This content is verified and moderated by Dr. Brendan Bickley

Dr. Bickley graduated from U.C. Irvine with honors: Phi Beta Kappa, Golden Key International Honor Society, Cum Laude. He has been featured on national radio and print media. He is also a frequent lecturer at National Conferences. He holds an A.S. degree in Drug & Alcohol Studies, and two B.A. degrees in Criminology & Psychology, and masters and doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology. He is a licensed California Drug & Alcohol Counselor Level II, a licensed Clinical Supervisor and is certified in treating Eating Disorders.

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