Trigger #: Drug And Alcohol Use
Recreational drug and alcohol use are known bipolar disorder triggers that can cause manic, hypomanic, or depressive episodes due to a variety of neurological mechanisms. While heavy, long-term use is of particular concern for people with bipolar disorder, even casual and occasional use can be triggering for some, both because drugs and alcohol affect the delicate neurochemical balance and because they may interfere with the efficacy of psychotropic medications. Unfortunately, while many recognize that recreational drugs can be dangerous, it is common to discount the potential dangers of alcohol. We tend to look at alcohol as a beverage, but it is a drug, says substance abuse counselor Beth Letterman. Alcohol can cause someone to be elated or depressed. If they are down, they will go lower. If they are high, theyll go higher. As such, it is best for people with bipolar disorder to avoid both drugs and alcohol altogether.
Unfortunately, self-medication and shared biological vulnerabilities cause high rates of co-occurring substance use disorders amongst people with bipolar disorder. If you are not able to stop using drugs or alcohol on your own, it is imperative that you seek the help of experts who understand the unique needs of people struggling with bipolar disorder and addiction. Recovering from a substance use disorder is essential for gaining control over your bipolar disorder and your overall health.
Trigger #: Goal Attainment And Positive Events
While many bipolar disorder triggers center around stressors, goal attainment and other positive events can also elicit mood episodes, particularly mania or hypomania. Events such as winning an award, getting a promotion, falling in love, or even going on vacation may act as triggers, initiating a dangerous cycle. Some researchers believe that this is caused by dysregulation of the behavioral approach system, which promote increases in positive affect, energy, goal pursuit, and attention toward cues of reward. In other words, people with bipolar disorder have particularly high reward responsiveness. For some, this heightened responsiveness translates into manic or hypomanic episodes.
If you or those around you notice symptoms of mania or hypomania following a positive event, it is important to talk to your doctor about it as soon as possible. While this kind of mood episode may appear to be a positive experience initially, it can ultimately be destructive both in and of itself and due to the risk of switching to a depressive episode once the mania or hypomania resolves. This does not mean you should not enjoy your successes, but it does mean that you should be sure to take care of your health at the same time.
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Anxiety As A Separate Condition
Now well have to be more specific about what kind of anxiety are we talking about?. There are several specific forms of anxiety which appear to be clearly separate from bipolar disorder . Heres a list, and then well look at specific symptoms that identify each one. After that well look at the treatment implications of having one of these. Jump to each by the link below.
Most of these have been shown to occur more often than you would expect in people with bipolar disorder . Well look at each one or you can use the link above to jump to the one youre interested in.
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At What Age Does Bipolar Disorder Most Frequently Emerge
Most cases of bipolar disorder commence when individuals are aged 1519 years. The second most frequent age range of onset is 2024 years. Some patients diagnosed with recurrent major depression may indeed have bipolar disorder and go on to develop their first manic episode when older than 50 years.
Anxiety Level & Link To Bipolarmy Assessment Checklist
The following is a simple checklist to help you determine if anxiety is high in your life right now and if you need help for anxiety that is separate from your bipolar symptom management plan.
These are just a few of anxietys many symptoms. If you have all of the above and feel really, really scared and out of breath, you could be experiencing a panic attack.
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Can You Have Both Ptsd And Bipolar Disorder
Its possible to have both conditions and many people do.
As noted above, evidence suggests that PTSD can increase your chances of developing bipolar disorder, while bipolar disorder could indirectly increase your chances of facing a traumatic experience.
Additional research supports the idea that either condition can contribute to the other.
One explored the rates of PTSD in 212 people diagnosed with bipolar disorder who were receiving inpatient care. Just over 72 percent of the participants had experienced some kind of trauma, while over 35 percent had a diagnosis of PTSD.
According to a
- Between 4 and 40 percent of people living with bipolar disorder also met criteria for PTSD.
- PTSD appeared more common in women and people living with bipolar I.
- Between 6 and 55 percent of people living with PTSD also met criteria for bipolar disorder.
- People living with both conditions tended to report worse symptoms and lower quality of life.
Older research notes that PTSD occurs, on average, in about 16 percent of people with bipolar disorder, compared to just under 8 percent of the general population.
If you do have both conditions, getting treatment for one might ease some of your symptoms but it generally wont improve them all.
Keep in mind that some treatments could worsen your symptoms. Antidepressants, which can help treat depression symptoms in PTSD, may sometimes trigger mania when used without a mood stabilizer, for example.
Antidepressants Corticosteroids And Other Medication
Can antidepressants make you manic?
The treatment of bipolar disorder can trigger episodes of mania by further setting off unstable moods and behaviors. Many psychiatrists say they’ve seen patients enter a manic phase after starting antidepressants and some feel uncomfortable prescribing them to bipolar patients.
What should you do about bipolar depression? Until more research is available on long-term safety, Keming Gao, MD, PhD, a professor of psychiatry at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine in Cleveland, suggests the following: For bipolar I depression, antidepressants should only be used with a mood stabilizer or stabilizers after symptoms haven’t responded to FDA-approved treatment options .
Dr. Gao says that while some recent studies suggest that using an antidepressant alone is as effective as lithium taken alone for some bipolar II patients , they should never be used alone for bipolar I depression, and patients and doctors should consider discontinuing use of antidepressants once symptoms have responded.
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Can Bipolar Disorder Be Prevented
There is no known method to prevent bipolar disorder. Because its exact cause has not yet been determined, it is especially important to know its symptoms and seek early intervention. Regular and continued use of medication can help reduce episodes or mania and depression. Some people who experience bipolar disorder may become suicidal. By knowing how to recognize these symptoms, there is a better chance for effective treatment and finding coping methods that may prevent long periods of illness, extended hospital stays, and suicide.
Chemical Imbalance In The Brain
Bipolar disorder is widely believed to be the result of chemical imbalances in the brain.
The chemicals responsible for controlling the brain’s functions are called neurotransmitters, and include noradrenaline, serotonin and dopamine.
There’s some evidence that if there’s an imbalance in the levels of 1 or more neurotransmitters, a person may develop some symptoms of bipolar disorder.
For example, there’s evidence that episodes of mania may occur when levels of noradrenaline are too high, and episodes of depression may be the result of noradrenaline levels becoming too low.
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How Does It Affect People
Bipolar disorder affects both men and women. For many people, the first symptoms show up in their early twenties. However, research has shown that the first episode of bipolar disorder is occurring earlier: It often shows up in adolescence, and even children can have the disorder.
Recent research suggests that kids and teens with bipolar disorder don’t always have the same behavioral patterns that adults with bipolar disorder do. For example, kids who have bipolar disorder may experience particularly rapid mood changes and may have some of the other mood-related symptoms listed below, such as irritability and high levels of anxiety. But they may not show other symptoms that are more commonly seen in adults.
Because brain function is involved, the ways people with bipolar disorder think, act, and feel are all affected. This can make it especially difficult for other people to understand their condition. It can be incredibly frustrating if other people act as though someone with bipolar disorder should just “snap out of it,” as if a person who is sick can become well simply by wanting to.
Bipolar disorder isn’t a sign of weakness or a character flaw it’s a serious medical condition that requires treatment, just like any other condition.
Two Ways To Have Anxiety With Bipolar Disorder
There are basically two ways you can have anxiety with bipolar disorder. First, it can be a symptom of the bipolar disorder itself. Secondly, you can have a separate anxiety condition in addition to bipolar disorder. In medical lingo, that is called a co-morbid condition . It means both conditions are present, and thus implies that anxiety is a separate condition, not coming from the bipolar disorder itself.
These two ways of looking at anxiety have important implications. If the symptoms are coming from bipolar disorder itself, then they should get better when the bipolar disorder gets better. But if they are coming from a condition, they could persist even when the bipolar disorder improves.
If your anxiety is really a separate condition, its going to require a separate treatment. And that really complicates things, because very often the recommended treatment for the anxiety condition could be an antidepressant medication and antidepressant medications can make bipolar disorder worse! .
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Chemical Causes Of Bipolar Disorder
Neurotransmitter disturbances definitely play a major role in causing bipolar disorder. Neurotransmitters are the chemicals that pass messages between the various areas of the brain.
Research has shown that individuals with manic depressive illness have an imbalance in these chemicals. The brain is producing either too few or too many. Often there is also an overproduction of the stress hormone cortisol.
Medication is effective in treating people with bipolar disorder because it can help even out the chemical imbalances, although in some cases exactly how or why the medication helps is unknown.
Read more about bipolar causes and bipolar symptoms from the National Institute of Mental Health .
The Stress Of A Bad Breakup Or Failed Marriage
A number of people with bipolar disorder especially those with a history of severe manic episodes have failed marriages. If youre going through a divorce, working with your therapist through what is often a drawn-out and extremely stressful process can help.
You might consider a durable power of attorney that allows someone else to make major decisions for you, such as financial ones, when you are going through an episode of depression or mania in relation to or during a breakup.
In fact, assigning a durable power of attorney could be useful for anyone who might be experiencing an episode of bipolar disorder.
What Causes Dissociative Amnesia
Dissociative amnesia has been linked to overwhelming stress, which might be the result of traumatic events â such as war, abuse, accidents, or disasters â that the person has experienced or witnessed. There also might be a genetic link to the development of dissociative disorders, including dissociative amnesia, because people with these disorders sometimes have close relatives who have had similar conditions.
What Does It Mean To Have Bipolar Disorder Or An Anxiety Disorder
Bipolar disorder is a lifelong mental condition that causes extreme shifts in mood. A persons moods can change very quickly, and they may experience everything from high highs to low lows.
These shifts in mood can cause major changes in their energy and activity levels. The shifts can also interfere with their quality of life and daily activities.
Everyone experiences some anxiety from time to time, such as before taking a test or making a big decision. However, some people have anxiety disorders that cause them to experience more than short-term worries.
Anxiety disorders arent limited to specific life events and may worsen over time. Sometimes people with anxiety disorders have worries so severe that they interfere with their ability to carry out their everyday activities.
The various types of anxiety disorders include:
at least half of people with bipolar disorder will experience an anxiety disorder during their lifetime.
A 2018 study found that anxiety disorder rates among people with bipolar disorder are 3 to 7 times higher than anxiety disorder rates among the general population.
Both conditions are treatable, but theyre long-term conditions that can sometimes be challenging to live with.
Both conditions can negatively affect a persons quality of life and functioning.
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Signs And Symptoms Of Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder can look very different in different people. The symptoms vary widely in their pattern, severity, and frequency. Some people are more prone to either mania or depression, while others alternate equally between the two types of episodes. Some have frequent mood disruptions, while others experience only a few over a lifetime.
There are four types of mood episodes in bipolar disorder: mania, hypomania, depression, and mixed episodes. Each type of bipolar disorder mood episode has a unique set of symptoms.
How Do Doctors Treat It
Although there’s no cure for bipolar disorder, treatment can help stabilize moods and help the person manage and control symptoms. Like other teens with long-lasting medical conditions , teens with bipolar disorder need to work closely with their doctors and other medical professionals to treat it.
This team of medical professionals, together with the teen and family, develop what is called a treatment plan. Teens with bipolar disorder will probably receive medication, such as a mood stabilizer, from a psychiatrist or other medical doctor. A psychologist or other type of counselor will provide counseling or psychotherapy for the teen and his or her family. Doctors will watch the symptoms closely and offer additional treatment advice if necessary.
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Bipolar Disorder And Suicide
The depressive phase of bipolar disorder is often very severe, and suicide is a major risk factor. In fact, people suffering from bipolar disorder are more likely to attempt suicide than those suffering from regular depression. Furthermore, their suicide attempts tend to be more lethal.
The risk of suicide is even higher in people with bipolar disorder who have frequent depressive episodes, mixed episodes, a history of alcohol or drug abuse, a family history of suicide, or an early onset of the disease.
Suicide warning signs include:
- Talking about death, self-harm, or suicide.
- Feeling hopeless or helpless.
Get more help
Bipolar Disorder Symptoms, causes, and treatment.
Rapid Cycling Signs, symptoms, and causes of rapid cycling in bipolar disorder.
Bipolar Workbook and other self-help resources.
Hotlines and support
Canada: Visit Finding Help for links to provincial helplines and support groups.
India: Call the Vandrevala Foundation Helpline at 1860 2662 345 or 1800 2333 330
|The HelpGuide team appreciates the support of Diamond Benefactors Jeff and Viktoria Segal.|
Types Of Bipolar Episodes
The main difference between bipolar disorder and conditions such as depression is the possibility of experiencing the overly excited state called mania, says Amit Anand, MD, a professor of medicine at the Lerner College of Medicine, vice-chair for research for the Center for Behavioral Health, and the director of the Mood and Emotional Disorders Across the Life Span program, all at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. People who are manic are unusually outgoing or happy. In some cases, mania also causes intense irritability and restlessness. During depressive episodes, intense sadness or hopelessness may lead to fatigue, trouble concentrating, and thoughts of suicide.
But bipolar mood swings are not always extreme, Dr. Anand notes. For instance, some people experience a less severe form of mania, known as hypomania. Those who are hypomanic may not feel anything is wrong, making diagnosis more difficult, he adds.
Complicating matters is that its possible to experience both mania and depression at the same time, known as mixed features. When this happens, you may feel overly energized yet be extremely irritated, sad, hopeless, or empty.
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