Bipolar Disorder and Alcohol Use – A Deadly Combination

If you are experiencing severe mood swings for past two years you might want to look into bipolar disorder symptoms.

But what is bipolar disorder?

It’s a mental condition marked by periods of depression and periods of liveliness. This might cause the severity of mood called hypomania.

Bipolar Disorder and Alcohol Use

Many people suffering from this mental condition resort to drinking to lift their mood. A research shows that 27.6% of people with bipolar disorder become dependent on alcohol while more than 16% abuse alcohol. However, this combination might be fatal mainly because once a patient suffering from hypomania seeks refuge in abusing alcohol, they become more prone to suicide.

Although drinking may seem like an easy, instant escape, on the contrary, alcohol raises the risk of relapsing into a depressive episode. Men are more prone to developing this disorder than females.

The most shocking fact: approximately 2.6% of U.S. population suffers from bipolar disorder, and experts fear that this number will increase.

Is it safe for a person with bipolar disorder to drink alcohol?

A person with bipolar disorder should avoid drinking alcohol. It can have an extremely dangerous impact to one’s overall health if alcohol is continuously abused. According to National Institute of Mental Health, a person with bipolar disorder is five times more likely to become alcohol addicts.

Types of Bipolar Disorder

  • Type 1 disorder

The patient shows a mix of extremes; emotions exhibited are just like poles of the earth. The tricky part is the symptoms are so similar to many disorders that the doctor needs- at least single mania episode followed by a depressive incident- to diagnose this disorder. Due to these episodes, hospitalization is necessary.

  • Type 2 disorder

The type 2 disorder is marked by the presence of hypomanic episodes. Just like type 1 to diagnose type 2 disorder depressive episode is vital to the diagnosis of the condition. The depressive state must stay for at least two weeks. The patient must also sign of hypomanic episode lasting not less than four days. In addition to this, Hypomanic episodes are usually not that severe.

Things to Avoid in Bipolar Disorder

First thing first, the patient has to stop drinking alcohol. Quitting suddenly might not be a good idea as it can trigger extreme depression. However, if the patient continues to drink, it can have extremely drastic impact on their health, in some cases it can be lethal. The ideal approach to quitting is gradually cutting down the intake and eventually stop taking altogether. However, the person has to find an alternative activity to keep themselves occupied.

Caffeine is the another no-no on this list. Caffeine is what keeps you going right? The people suffering from this disorder need a good sleep. Caffeine tends to disrupt sleep and lowers the effect of medicines. Secondly, alcohol is a bad choice as it intensifies the mood swings and causes more damage than good. In reality, alcohol is a depressant and is usually used by people as a tranquilizer.

Experts at National Institute of Mental Health have concluded that people having bipolar disorder are 5 times more probable to develop alcohol misuse and depend on it more than anyone in the world.
Peer pressure is also a reason why people cannot seem to put on the brakes on alcohol intake.

Any type of fatty food should be avoided as such food tends to increase the duration in which the bipolar disorder medication takes effect in your body. Different people can suffer hypertension from certain foods, and thus these foods should be avoided as it might trigger a depression episode or mania in the case of type 1 bipolar disorder.

What are the Chances of Recovery?

The first thing to analyze is to check which condition occurred first. If alcohol abuse problem occurred first, the chances of recovery are high and the process is not that difficult, especially if the person can stop or minimize alcohol intake. However, if it’s the other way around, the process can take time and recovery can be slow. Unfortunately, the bipolar disorder may leave a permanent mark on your personality for good.

Treatment Options for Bipolar Disorder and Alcohol Use

Is there a treatment for alcohol abuse and bipolar disorder?

There are treatments for alcohol abuse and bipolar disorder, but they are done separately. These two conditions need medical attention to reduce their complexities. For bipolar disorder, the most effective way of treating it is through group and individual therapies along with medical assistance. Some physicians even treat both problems together but this is a rare practice.

The most effective means of treatment for bipolar disorder has to be a two-pronged strategy consisting of medication along with the group and individual therapies. Various options for treatment of alcohol use disorder are being practiced. One of the new but commonly used methods are the 12-step program or behavioral-cognitive relapse prevention therapy.

Can you recover from alcohol abuse and bipolar disorder?

Yes. If alcoholism occurred first, the chance of recovery is high and the process is not going to be that difficult. However, if it’s the bipolar disorder that showed up first, the recovery process can be slow.

Final Words

If you or any of your loved one has developed bipolar disorder, the best option is to remove any form of alcohol from your life. Also avoiding the triggers, situations, and circumstances that can force you to drink should be avoided.
As far as the peer pressure is concerned, you can consume alcohol-free drinks that won’t harm your condition.

Although in depression episode many people find it impossible to avoid drinking alcohol. Doctor consultation is vital for recovery as it is not possible for any person to treat this condition by himself. Self-meditation efforts may worsen the situation as such people are more prone to attempting suicide. They are very aggressive and may harm their own loved ones.

The longer the condition stays, the higher are the chances for an individual to develop negative personality traits even after the treatment of bipolar disorder. However, no matter how worse the condition is, there are always treatment options available. The sooner you start, the better your chances of recovery are.

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