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How are Bipolar 2 and Addiction Related to Each Other

Bipolar 2 is one of the most common mental health conditions in the United States. Incidentally, this condition is often related to addiction. The question many people want to know the answer to is, why? In order to understand why, it’s important to understand what Bipolar II disorder is. Perhaps you’ve been diagnosed with Bipolar 2, or maybe you think you should be. Getting some answers can be helpful; especially if you also have an addiction to drugs or alcohol.

The Link Between Bipolar 2 and Addiction

There have been occasions in which the addiction came first, prior to the onset of bipolar II. However, more often than not, bipolar II comes first. Many of the people with this mental health condition also suffer from addictions, or substance abuse problems. Experts believe that this is the case because drugs and alcohol are a way to self-medicate. Using drugs or alcohol can help to eliminate or at least lesson some symptoms of bipolar II. However, what they don’t realize is that any relief they get is likely to be short-lived. With prolonged use, substances can actually make their symptoms a lot worse.

What is Bipolar 2 Disorder?

According to WebMD, bipolar 2 is very similar to bipolar 1 disorder. It involves having moods that often cycle between high and low. Even so, there are some things that make bipolar II disorder stand out from bipolar 1. Rather than involving mania, bipolar 2’s “high” moods involve hypomania, or hypomanic episodes. These are not as intense, but they are still high enough to be concerning. Statistics tell us that almost 6 million adults in the United States suffer from bipolar 2. That is about 2.5% of the population. Bipolar II generally begins in the early adult years, but it can begin during the teenage years as well.

The Symptoms of Bipolar II

It’s possible that at some point in your life, someone has referred to you as being bipolar. Maybe that was your very first indication that you might be different from other people. Still, you’re not exactly sure what the symptoms of bipolar II are. Unfortunately, the word “bipolar” is something that people like to casually toss around. They may mean it to be funny, but it’s anything but a joke. For those who suffer from bipolar II, it is a real, serious mental illness. These individuals often face great despair in their daily lives. If there’s a chance you have bipolar 2 disorder, you need to know what it is. It’s important to understand that bipolar II disorder is diagnosed based on certain criteria. People need to have experienced both of the different types of moods that are common with this condition. They are the hypomania and the depression.

Hypomanic Symptoms of Bipolar II Disorder

If you are in a hypomanic state right now, you may be feeling really good. You’re not depressed, you feel good about yourself, and you’re on top of the world. You may notice that you:

  • Typically go from one idea to the next very quickly
  • Are very self-confident
  • May speak loudly and quickly
  • Have a lot of energy
  • Feel hyperactive on the inside
  • Having racing thoughts
  • Don’t need to sleep as much

Hypomanic states can last for a long time. Symptoms can usually last for a few weeks to a few months at a time. Sometimes, hypomania can become dangerous. In this state, people are known for taking big risks. They may have frequent, unprotected sex. They may go on expensive shopping sprees. These and other risks are hazardous in a number of ways. This is what makes the hypomanic state so concerning.

Depression Symptoms of Bipolar 2 Disorder

The symptoms of depression that go along with bipolar II disorder can be unsettling. Quite often, depression lasts longer than hypomanic episodes last. This can be hard for you because you feel like you never get a break from feeling down. The symptoms of depression with bipolar II include:

  • Feeling worthless
  • Having extreme levels of guilt
  • Not having much energy at all
  • Wanting to stay in bed all the time
  • Losing pleasure in activities you once loved

A depressive episode can last for months at a time. There are even some cases in which it can last for years. Everyone is different, and people rarely experience each state for the same amount of time. As this depressive state progresses, suicidal thoughts are also common. Maybe you can relate to that yourself.

What is Rapid Cycling?

Rapid cycling refers to quick, distinct episodes of hypomania and depression. These tend to cycle very quickly, with people spending very little time in each episode. People may have four or more episodes each year. It can also come and go without warning. Rapid cycling is also frequently under diagnosed. This is mostly because people will mistake their hypomania for being in a good mood.

Why do People Develop Co-Occurring Disorders Like Bipolar II?

It is still largely a mystery as to what it is that causes co-occurring disorders like bipolar 2 disorder. Even so, doctors do have a few ideas. Bipolar II disorder could be caused because of:

  • Genetics – These types of mental health conditions tend to run in families.
  • Problems with neurotransmitters in the brain – Disrupting circuits in the brain that release dopamine may play a big role.
  • Not sleeping enough – It may seem silly, but insomnia could lead to bipolar 2 disorder in some people. The sleep-wake cycle could cause symptoms of mania and depression.
  • Stressful life events – Stress can lead to a whole host of ailments, and bipolar II disorder is certainly one of them.
  • Various environmental factors – These can also play a big role.

Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment or Dual Diagnosis Treatment for Bipolar II Disorder and Substance Abuse

People who get treated for these conditions separately aren’t as likely to recover from them. This is important for you to know. Co-occurring disorders should always be treated at the same time. This boosts the individual’s chances of being successful. Of course, it wasn’t always this way. There was a time when dual diagnosis treatment was completely unheard of. Patients would go through detox if they were alcoholics or drug addicts. After that, mental health treatment was the goal. So many people relapsed, and eventually, it was decided that a change needed to be made. With dual diagnosis treatment, co-occurring disorders are treated at the same time. Individuals receive therapy for both conditions together. This allows professionals to work together and share information with each other. They can collaborate with one another and provide the best possible treatment.

The Benefits of Treating Bipolar II and Alcoholism or Drug Dependence for the Patient

Patients are able to benefit greatly from co-occurring disorder treatment. They learn where their addictions stemmed from, and this increases opportunities for healing. If they’re on medication for bipolar disorder, they can remain on that medication. However, there is a chance that they may need less of it eventually. Co-occurring disorder treatment works. The many people who have received itwill agree.

The Best Dual Diagnosis Treatment Available for Bipolar 2 and Drug Addiction or Alcoholism

If you attempt to be treated for bipolar II disorder and addiction separately, you’re taking a risk. More often than not, this type of treatment simply does not work. This is because these two conditions often end up feeding into each other. Because of this, they need to be treated at the same time. That way, professionals can work together to provide the best possible treatment for the problem. An IOP program might be the best solution for you if you have bipolar 2 disorder and addiction. This type of program allows you to live at home and still get the help you need. It’s not disruptive to your life at all, because it is such a flexible program. During IOP, you’ll attend appointments during the week, oftentimes in the evening. You’ll work with a therapist who will help you with both the addiction and bipolar II disorder symptoms. You’ll also have group therapy, which will help you get additional support during your recovery. The Northpoint Seattle, we see a lot of people with bipolar 2 disorder. We know how hard it is to have this mental health condition. Up until now, you may have been confused because you didn’t know it was connected with your addiction. Now that you know, so much more makes sense to you. We can help you reach your recovery goals. Do you have bipolar 2 and an addiction? Are you interested in learning more about recovering? If so, please contact us today.

Sources: (25, March 2016). Why are so Many People with Bipolar Disorder Addicted to Drugs? Retrieved from: