bipolar and alcohol

While the association between a mood disorder and co-occurring alcoholism is well established, the most prevalent dual diagnosis is the one involving bipolar disorder and alcohol. Although the science behind this particular comorbidity isn’t yet clear, what is known is that alcohol abuse compounds the severity of the bipolar disorder and complicates treatment.

Bipolar disorder is a complex mental health condition that features extreme mood swings that vacillate between depressive and manic states, with some intermittent normal periods between these. There are four types of bipolar disorder, with bipolar I being the most serious. Individuals who suffer with bipolar disorder may gravitate toward alcohol use in an effort to soften the effects of the mental health disorder.

Gaining a better understanding of the relationship between bipolar and alcohol abuse allows us to improve the response time for getting someone much needed treatment for either or both of these conditions. Fortunately, both bipolar disorder and alcohol use disorder can be effectively managed through medication and psychotherapy.

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Mental illness can result in deep disturbances to all aspects of daily life, and bipolar disorder is particularly difficult to endure. Bipolar disorder, formerly referred to as manic-depression, features extreme mood swings. The characteristic shifts in mood and energy levels make it hard to complete basic tasks that others can so easily accomplish. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, bipolar disorder afflicts about 2.8% of the adult population in the U.S. Among those diagnosed with bipolar disorder, 82% are classified as severe.

The 4 types of bipolar disorder include:

Bipolar I Disorder. Bipolar I is the most common and most severe form of bipolar disorder, characterized by manic episodes that last for at least seven days or with manic symptoms so severe that acute stabilization in a hospital setting is often necessary.

Bipolar II Disorder. Bipolar II is defined by a pattern of manic and depressive episodes, but not to the same severity of Bipolar I.

Cyclothymic Disorder. Cyclothymic Disorder, or cyclothymia, is features repeated periods of manic symptoms and depressive symptoms lasting at least two years, however the symptoms do not reach the diagnostic criteria for manic or depressive episodes.

Unspecified Bipolar Disorders. This category includes those who experience bipolar disorder symptoms that do not fit into the above categories.

Symptoms of bipolar vary depending on the type of the disorder, but may include:

Depressive symptoms

  • Low mood that persists
  • Loss of interest in everyday life activities
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep problems
  • Inability to concentrate or make decisions
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Restlessness or slowed behaviors
  • Weight loss or gain that is unintended
  • Thoughts of suicide

Manic symptoms

  • Racing thoughts
  • Rapid speech, very talkative
  • Euphoric, hyperactive behavior
  • Increased activity and energy
  • Reduced sleep
  • Easily distracted, difficulty finishing tasks
  • Engages in high risk behavior
  • Poor decision-making

The Effects of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder can be dangerous to one’s physical health as well. Often the individual with bipolar will fixate on their own death, even obsessing about suicide. Also, many who struggle with bipolar disorder will engage in self-harming behaviors, such as the practice of “cutting” or other forms of self-mutilation, as an outlet for feelings of frustration and self-loathing.

Relationships are hard hit by bipolar disorder. People battling bipolar disorder often isolate themselves, withdrawing socially because they feel misunderstood. The isolating behaviors only worsen interpersonal relationships and can negatively impact employment stability.

Substance abuse is common among those with bipolar disorder, particularly alcohol abuse, further complicating the symptoms and exacerbating high-risk behaviors. Other comorbidities may include anxiety disorder, psychosis, eating disorders, and ADHD.

The Link Between Bipolar and Alcohol Use Disorder

The connection between bipolar disorder and alcohol use disorder has been the subject of research. It has been found that 46.2% of individuals with bipolar I disorder also have a comorbid alcohol use disorder, although it has yet to be discovered exactly why there is such a high prevalence of this dual diagnosis. Some of the possible causes for these comorbid disorders are posed in an article, “Bipolar Disorder and Alcoholism,” [Sonne and Brady]:

  • That bipolar disorder may be a risk factor for substance use
  • That symptoms of bipolar may emerge during alcohol withdrawals
  • That individuals with bipolar may use alcohol to mitigate mania
  • That bipolar disorder and alcoholism affect neurotransmitters the same way
  • That there is a genetic component with family history of both disorders

Unfortunately, alcohol abuse only enhances the symptoms of bipolar disorder. Although someone suffering from the relentless mood swings attempts to find relief in alcohol use, this strategy only worsens the disease and can lead to alcohol dependence or addiction.

The Warning Signs of Alcohol Use Disorder

The telltale signs and symptoms of alcohol use disorder (AUD) include behavioral, physical, and psychological elements. The DSM-5 established a list of criteria that helps to diagnose the severity of an alcohol problem. The more symptoms that are present, the higher the severity of the AUD. Mild AUD is indicated when 2-3 criteria are present, moderate AUD when 4-5 criteria are met, and severe AUD is diagnosed when 6 or more criteria are met.

The diagnostic criteria include:

  • Higher levels of alcohol consumption or drinking over a longer period of time than was intended
  • Persistent unsuccessful attempts to cut down or control alcohol use
  • Significant time spent obtaining, drinking, and recovering from the effects of alcohol.
  • Alcohol cravings
  • Recurrent alcohol use leading to failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, or home
  • Recurrent use of alcohol, despite having mounting interpersonal problems caused or worsened by alcohol
  • Giving up or missing important social, occupational, or recreational activities due to alcohol use
  • Recurrent alcohol use in high risk situations
  • Increased tolerance markedly increases levels of alcohol consumption to get desired effect
  • Withdrawal symptoms when alcohol is withheld

Dual Diagnosis Treatment for Bipolar and Alcoholism

According to statistics provided by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, approximately 9.2 million Americans struggle with a dual diagnosis, such as bipolar and alcohol addiction. When layering alcoholism over an existing mental health disorder, the individual’s condition becomes more serious. The resulting co-occurring disorders leaves individuals with mounting negative life consequences and deteriorating mental and physical health.

It is essential to seek help for comorbid disorders at a residential recovery program that specializes in treating a dual diagnosis. These programs are staffed appropriately with the psychiatric expertise necessary to prescribe medication, design a customized treatment plan for co-occurring disorders, and to effectively manage the unique mental health challenges that may emerge in the treatment setting.

It is essential that someone with both bipolar disorder and an AUD obtain treatment for both disorders simultaneously. Treatment will be multi-pronged, including medication, psychotherapy, holistic elements, and recovery support. These treatment elements include:

Detox and withdrawal.  Initially the individual must first eliminate the chemical toxins from the body through an alcohol detoxification process. This typically takes 5-7 days and is best undergone in an inpatient medically supervised detox program that is trained to identify dangerous withdrawal symptoms.

Medication: Mood stabilizing medications, such as antipsychotics and antidepressants, are the most commonly prescribed drugs for treating bipolar disorder. The specific type of bipolar disorder will dictate the medications. Lithium is the predominant medication prescribed for controlling bipolar disorder, in addition to anticonvulsants and SSRIs. Some may benefit from medication-assisted treatment for the alcoholism. Naltrexone is a non-narcotic drug that can help individuals maintain sobriety by reducing the cravings that lead to relapse.

Psychotherapy: Thoughts can influence behaviors, and negative thoughts can lead to self-destructive behaviors. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most commonly used form of psychotherapy for treating bipolar disorder. CBT therapists will guide the individual to identify thought distortions or triggers that lead to the disruptive behaviors, and help them change these destructive thought patterns. CBT is also effective for individuals in addiction recovery, providing them with essential coping skills.

Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy.  IPSRT provide life skills that helps the patient learn how to better predict and manage the bipolar episodes. This therapy focuses on the importance of maintaining a consistent daily routine, in addition to improving interpersonal relations and stress management.

Holistic: Experiential and holistic therapies can aid in regulating bipolar symptoms and promote overall wellness. These activities might include massage therapy, yoga, deep-breathing techniques, mindfulness meditation, art therapy, guided imagery, and aromatherapy.

Lifestyle: Because establishing a healthy routine is essential in managing bipolar disorder, residential programs will counsel patients on nutrition and exercise. Improving sleep quality, getting regular exercise, eating a nutritious diet, and managing stress are all intrinsic to achieving emotional stability and reducing the probability of a relapse.

Recovery support groups.  Success in recovery does not end with completion of a dual diagnosis program. Aftercare is an important aspect of recovery and should be included in the comprehensive dual diagnosis treatment planning. Aftercare includes regular participation in a recovery community, such as a 12-step or non 12-step program, ongoing outpatient group and individual counseling, and possibly transitional housing for a few months in sober living.

Elevation Behavioral Health Provides Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Elevation Behavioral Health is an upscale private residential mental health program in Los Angeles. Elevation is committed to providing leading dual diagnosis treatment for individuals who struggle with both bipolar disorder and alcohol use disorder. Our expert staff ensures that each individual in our care receives compassionate and respectful care, along with the most up to date evidence-based treatment measures. Our beautiful, serene setting provides a soothing and supportive environment for healing and new beginnings. For more information, please reach out to the Elevation team at (888) 561-0868.

difference between bipolar and manic depression

When wondering what is the difference between bipolar and manic depression it can be a bit confusing. These two terms are still used interchangeably, leaving the impression that they are two distinct mental health disorders. In reality, manic depression is the same disorder as bipolar disorder, but happens to be an outdated label. In 1980, the DSM-3 officially reclassified this particular disorder as bipolar disorder.

Individuals who struggle with bipolar disorder understand why it was once called manic-depressive disorder, as it manifests itself with features of both clinical depression and mania or hypomania. There are different degrees of severity of the disorder, leading to a total of four types of bipolar disorder to be listed in the DMS-5. Since there is no difference between bipolar and manic depression, let’s push past the labeling and talk about bipolar disorder.

What Is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a complex mental health disorder that is considered a “mood disorder,” and features extreme shifts between moods and energy levels. Someone with this challenging condition may find that it can impair daily functioning, career stability, and relationships. 

The intensive mood swings between mania and depression can be very disruptive in daily life, although there may be long periods of calm that separate these mood shifts. While there is no cure for bipolar disorder, there are methods and medications that help individuals manage the symptoms and enjoy a productive life. In most cases, bipolar disorder is first diagnosed in the teen years or early adulthood, although there are cases of it being diagnosed in later years as well.

What Causes Bipolar Disorder?

To date, science has not yet been able to identify the exact cause of bipolar disorder. However, there are strong indications that there is a genetic component, as chances of developing the disorder are enhanced if a close family member has the condition. But even so, when studying identical twins there may be one twin with the disorder and the other who never develops it.

It is also thought that particular features in brain structure might predispose someone to bipolar disorder, especially in light of traumatic events or intensely stressful life events that might trigger a bipolar episode.

What Are the Symptoms of Mania?

The symptoms of mania include:

  • Very little sleep
  • Easily distracted
  • Irritability
  • Excessive energy, hyperactivity
  • Intense euphoria
  • Overly ambitious undertakings
  • Exercising poor judgment
  • Impulsivity
  • Engaging in risky behaviors
  • Aggression
  • Psychosis

Hypomania is a less severe form of mania, with symptoms lasting four days or more but which do not cause severe impairment in daily functioning as mania does.

What are the Symptoms of Depression?

The symptoms of depression include:

  • Persistent sadness, feelings of despair
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Changes in weight
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Physical symptoms such as chronic digestive problems or headaches
  • Feelings of guilt or shame
  • Suicidal ideation

Types of Bipolar Disorder

When an individual is being evaluated for bipolar disorder they will first undergo a physical exam to rule out any medical reason for the symptoms. Then using the DSM-5 diagnostic criteria and various assessments, the mental health practitioner can pinpoint the specific type of bipolar disorder According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness there are four types of bipolar disorder. These include:

Bipolar I. Bipolar I disorder involves one or more manic episodes, with or without depressive episodes occurring. The mania must be severe enough that hospitalization is required and last a week or longer.

Bipolar II. Bipolar II disorder is characterized by the shifting between the less severe hypomanic episodes and depressive episodes.

Cyclothymic disorder. Cyclothymic disorder involves chronic mood shifts between depressive and hypomanic lasting more than two years. There may be periods of normal mood as well, but those periods last less than 8 weeks.

Unspecified bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder not otherwise specified is present when the symptoms do not fit the other three diagnoses, but still involve episodes of unusual manic mood.

Treatment for Bipolar Disorder

While there is no difference between bipolar and manic depression labeling, both the mania and the depression must be managed. Once the particular type of bipolar disorder is diagnosed, a treatment protocol will be created for the individual. In most cases, a combination of medication and psychotherapy is the first line of treatment. For those who have bipolar I, admission into a residential treatment program or hospitalization is the appropriate level of care.

Medication: Psychotropic medications are prescribed according to the predominant features of the bipolar disorder. These may include antidepressants, benzodiazepines, and anti-psychotic medication.

Psychotherapy: Talk therapy and group therapy helps individuals process the disruption that their bipolar disorder causes in daily life and find solutions for managing relationships and other stressors better. CBT can assist the individual with shifting pessimistic thoughts that drives irrational behaviors to more optimistic thinking.

Family-focused therapy: Stress that is a common feature within families when a member has bipolar disorder can undermine recovery. This involves helping family members learn to communicate better, practice better problem solving skills, and manage anger and conflicts more effectively.

Stress-management: Teaching individuals with bipolar disorder to better manage their stress level is intrinsic to a positive outcome. These methods include deep breathing, yoga, and mindfulness training.

Medical detox and addiction treatment for dual diagnosis: Substance use disorders often co-occur with bipolar disorder. If so, the individual will benefit from detox and addiction treatment in addition to the targeted treatment for bipolar disorder.

Elevation Behavioral Health is a Leading Provider of Bipolar Disorder Treatment

Elevation Behavioral Health is a residential mental health program that treats individuals with bipolar disorder. What sets Elevation Behavioral Health apart from other residential programs is its “elevation” of treatment interventions to a more focused and comprehensive level of intensity. At Elevation Behavioral Health, patients find themselves in a compassionate, supportive environment that allows them to heal. Interventions are designed to help stabilize the severity of the mood shifts, to learn new ways to recognize and manage oncoming symptoms, improving their level of functioning at school or work, and teach them methods to reduce stress and promote relaxation. For more information about manic depression versus bipolar disorder, or any other questions, please contact Elevation Behavioral Health at (888) 561-0868.

am i having a manic episode

Feeling a rush of uncontainable energy, you may find yourself racing around the web placing one order after another of items you don’t even really need. Or maybe you feel a wave of adrenaline that causes you to launch a dozen home projects at one, shooting through the rooms of your house like a pinball, and never really finishing a single task. If either of these examples sound familiar you may have asked yourself, “Am I having a manic episode?”

Mania is associated with signs of bipolar disorder, a complex mental health disorder that features unpredictable shifts between manic episodes and depressive episodes. When a manic episode presents itself there can be some serious repercussions that result from the high-pitched energy and euphoria that drive it. This is because along with that sudden boost of energy comes some very erratic and impulsive actions, not to mention intense irritability and insomnia.

When struggling with bipolar disorder, it is helpful to learn how to recognize the signs of the impending manic episodes, as well as the depressive ones. Seeing the warning signs can help you take proactive steps to rein it in before it explodes into uncontrollable behaviors that you end up regretting. Asking yourself, “Am I having a manic episode?” can get you in the mindset of preparation, which is all good.

Types of Bipolar Disorder

There are varying degrees of intensity of these episodes, so for that reason bipolar disorder has four classifications:

Bipolar I: Features both manic and depressive episodes that vary in duration, but at least one manic episode that includes psychotic features must last seven days or longer for the diagnosis to be made. The manic episode may have been shorter but was severe enough to require hospitalization. Mania is more prevalent in bipolar I.

Bipolar II: The individual experiences hypomania instead of mania, which is a less intense form of mania. Diagnosis will depend on the individual having experienced at least one hypomanic episode and one depressive episode. Depressive episodes are more prevalent in bipolar II.

Cyclothymic disorder: The individual experiences a milder form of bipolar disorder, with episodes of less severe mania and depression that resembles moodiness instead of bipolar disorder, and lasts more than two years. Untreated cyclothymic disorder can develop into bipolar disorder.

Unspecified bipolar: This classification involves abnormal mood disorder symptoms that do not fit into a specific pattern.

Approximately 5.7 million people struggle with this serious mental health condition, according to data provided by the National Institute on Mental Illness.

What Causes Bipolar Disorder?

It is still not fully understood how someone develops bipolar disorder. Some of the factors recognized as potential factors include a family history of bipolar disorder or mental illness, an imbalance in brain chemistry that diminishes emotion regulation, or a history of trauma or abuse. Also, certain substances, such as alcohol, hallucinogenics, benzodiazepines, and some heart or blood pressure medications have been found to provoke the symptoms of a bipolar disorder, if not igniting the disorder itself. Ongoing research is getting closer to understanding the genetic link or brain regulation issue that can cause bipolar disorder.

Brain structure differences themselves are being studied as a possible explanation for the onset of bipolar disorder. It is also thought that particular features in brain structure might predispose someone to bipolar disorder, especially in light of traumatic events or intensely stressful life events that might trigger a bipolar episode.

What Are the Symptoms of a Manic Episode?

The symptoms of a manic episode may come on suddenly and are often very intense. These symptoms include:

  • Euphoric mood, elation
  • Abundance of energy
  • Poor judgment
  • Increased activity levels, hyperactivity
  • Insomnia
  • Rapid speech
  • Irritability
  • Feeling jumpy
  • Racing thoughts
  • Engage in high-risk or impulsive behaviors
  • Take on multiple tasks at once
  • Aggression

How Bipolar Mania Impacts Daily Life

Whether a person spends their days at a job or as a student, a majority of hours will involve contact with other people. Healthy social functioning is essential for succeeding in all realms of life. When manic episodes erupt they will hinder the ability to function optimally in daily life.

Bipolar disorder can stress work relationships. An employee who exhibits mood swings on the job is likely to be viewed as unstable, which can disrupt career aspirations or even result in termination if the mood swings are seen as harmful to other employees. Additionally, the work performance of someone with unmanaged bipolar disorder will suffer as projects and assignments will be late, poorly executed, or missed entirely.

For children, having a parent with bipolar disorder can be confusing and destabilizing. Children will not understand why their parent is really happy and energetic one day and sad and tired the next. This can cause the children to become anxious and tentative, not knowing what to expect from this parent from day to day.

A similar conundrum exists for the significant others involved in a close relationship with the individual. The unpredictable mood swings, and the fallout from the manic episodes, can place so much pressure on a relationship that it is likely to fail.

Bipolar can also result in diminished health. A manic episode may result in getting inadequate sleep over a several day period, adversely impacting health and wellness. Impulsive behaviors can result in high-risk situations that lead to injury or damages.

What Steps Can Be Taken to Manage a Manic Episode?

The symptoms of a manic episode may emerge suddenly and without much warning. When you find yourself thinking, “Am I having a manic episode?” there may be very little time to proactively manage the oncoming symptoms. Seeking out the help of your support system and reaching out to your doctor or therapist can help deflect an episode. Better yet is learning the actions to take prior to a manic episode developing. Some proactive steps include:

  • Avoid alcohol and drugs
  • Keep a regular sleep schedule
  • Practice relaxation techniques
  • Adhere to medication
  • Engage in weekly psychotherapy

In addition, the earlier the individual receives treatment for bipolar disorder the better the outcome. According to the author of an article published in The Lancet, Sameer Jauhar, Ph.D., “As a consultant psychiatrist this is something I see again and again. People who are identified early and get effective treatment quickly are able to avoid further episodes and achieve extraordinary things, while others who the system doesn’t serve so well can get stuck for years.”

Psychiatric Intervention for Bipolar Disorder

Management of bipolar disorder begins with first stabilizing the mental health condition. Bipolar disorder can lead to extreme acting out that may put the individual or others in harm’s way. A residential mental health setting will provide the acute stabilization services and 24-hour monitoring, followed by an individualized treatment plan.

Generally, bipolar disorder will be treated and managed by both medication and therapy. The medications might include lithium, antidepressants, or anticonvulsants. A period of trialing the medications and making necessary adjustments can fine tune this important treatment element for bipolar disorder management.

Psychotherapy includes a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy, which will assist the individual in identifying distorted or irrational thought patterns and change them, along with interpersonal and social rhythm therapy. This type of therapy is useful in helping the bipolar patient learn how to predict an oncoming manic or depressive episode and better manage them. In addition, IPSRT emphasizes the importance of maintaining key relationships, of establishing healthy routines, and of managing stress.

Learning How to Relax

When you find yourself spinning out of control, wondering, “Am I having a manic episode?” that is the time to take the initiative and employ some effective relaxation techniques. Being familiar with these holistic activities can provide an arsenal of healing tools that will come into play when a manic episode threatens. These relaxation activities include:

  • Deep breathing. Breathing becomes shallow when we are irritable or filled with adrenaline. Slowly drawing in the breath, holding it, and then fully releasing it is a quick way to alleviate feelings of anxiety. Deep breathing exercises can be done anywhere at any time.
  • Meditation. Meditation can be as individual as the person engaged in it, but will usually involve a period of quiet time to reflect or pray. Some may benefit from accessing a meditation app that provides guided imagery that increases the sense of peace and wellbeing.
  • Yoga. Yoga is an ancient practice that uses slow, purposeful movements and poses that can help open up energy flow. Combined with meditation and focused breathing, yoga can induce peace of mind.
  • Aromatherapy. Essential oils are made from plant and flower parts and distilled into a potent form of oil. These are used in aromatherapy, or breathing in the essence of particular oils that can boost mood and calm the mind.
  • Working out. A moderately rigorous workout of 30-60 minutes can help induce emotional stability due to the production of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine.
  • Mindfulness. Practicing mindfulness helps to center the individual in the present moment. This can be particularly helpful during a manic episode, as it helps to rein in distracting thoughts and forces the individual to pay attention to the rhythm of their breathing.
  • Art therapy. Working through emotions using an art medium can be very relaxing, as well as a great outlet for expressing feelings. Art therapy can involve painting, drawing, sculpture, or crafts.
  • Acupuncture. Acupuncture is an ancient Eastern medical practice that opens up blocked energy flow in the body by inserting tiny needles in particular regions. This can induce relaxation and improve overall mood.

The combination of these stress-reducing activities with cognitive behavioral therapy and possibly antidepressants can help effectively manage bipolar disorder and improve the quality of life.

Elevation Behavioral Health Offers Integrated Bipolar Treatment Program

Elevation Behavioral Health is a residential mental health program that provides comprehensive treatment for individuals with bipolar disorder. Elevation Behavioral Health elevates mental health interventions to a more intensive and focused level of intensity. At Elevation Behavioral Health, patients find themselves in a compassionate, nurturing environment that promotes emotional healing. Interventions are designed to help stabilize the severity of the mood swings, to learn new ways to recognize and manage oncoming symptoms, and to teach relaxation techniques. If you have been wondering, “Am I having a manic episode?” please contact Elevation Behavioral Health today at (888) 561-0868.

 

warning signs of bipolar meltdown

Bipolar disorder is a complex and destabilizing mental health disorder that requires specialized interventions and psychiatric expertise to adequately manage. Those individuals living with bipolar disorder struggle daily with the challenges related to this confounding and unpredictable mental health condition.

There are different types of bipolar disorder with unique features, but the prevailing characteristics revolve around intense mood swings, shifting from manic episodes to depressive episodes. Bipolar disorder is a lifelong diagnosis, but with expert care and medication compliance it is possible to achieve normal functioning.

That said, there is a high degree of instability associated with bipolar disorder. Mood swings can escalate to such a degree that they become debilitating. When the disorder becomes so disruptive to daily functioning it may constitute a psychiatric crisis. Knowing the warning signs of a bipolar meltdown can help prevent such a crisis.

About Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder features extreme shifts in mood that are unpredictable and often disruptive to daily functioning. Changes in sleep patterns, eating habits, emotions, and behaviors accompany the mood swings. Individuals with bipolar disorder shift from manic to depressive episodes periodically, often without any predictable pattern. In most cases, bipolar disorder emerges in the teen or early adult years, and affects approximately 5.7 million people, according to statistics provided by the National Institute on Mental Illness. Of those diagnosed with bipolar disorder, more than 80% will have a severe form of the mental health disorder.

It is not yet totally understood how someone develops bipolar disorder. Some of the factors that are recognized as potential causes include a family history of bipolar disorder or mental illness, a problem in brain chemistry that affects mood regulation, a history of trauma or abuse. Certain substances, such as alcohol, hallucinogenics, benzodiazepines, and certain heart and blood pressure medications have been found to provoke symptoms of bipolar, if not the illness itself. Ongoing research is getting closer to understanding the genetic link or brain regulation issue that can cause bipolar disorder.

Manic episode:

  • Elated, euphoric mood
  • Abundance of energy
  • Increased activity levels
  • Insomnia
  • Rapid speech
  • Irritability
  • Feeling jumpy
  • Racing thoughts
  • Engage in high-risk behaviors
  • Take on multiple tasks at once

Managing a manic episode

At the outset of a manic episode the individual may find their symptoms getting out of control. Abnormal energy levels may prevent someone from sitting still and completing assignments at school or work. Minimal sleep over several days can impact health and wellness. Impulsive behavior can result in high-risk situations that lead to injury or material damage.

When the symptoms of a manic episode emerge there may be a very short window to proactively manage the oncoming symptoms, which is why it helps to recognize the warning signs of a bipolar meltdown. Seeking out the help of a support system such as a doctor or therapist can help prevent an episode from becoming full-fledged. Taking these proactive steps might help prevent a manic episode:

  • Medication compliance
  • Avoiding alcohol and drugs
  • Using relaxation techniques
  • Continue with outpatient therapy

Depressive episode:

  • Feeling sad, hopeless, empty
  • Very low energy
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Decreased activity level
  • Forgetful
  • Overeating or under-eating
  • Excessive worry
  • Lack of joy or pleasure
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Thoughts of suicide

Managing a depressive episode:

Possibly a stressful or sad event has triggered the episode, but many times it is just a characteristic of bipolar disorder to experience these sporadic bouts of depression. Because bipolar depression can be extreme, it is essential to identify the signs as early as possible that a depressive disorder is emerging.

As with the prevention of a manic episode, being aware of the signs of depression is a proactive response to identifying a bipolar depressive episode. When the patterns emerge, such as sleep problems, extreme fatigue, a change in eating habits, and persistent feelings of sadness, it is important to see the doctor, and also avoid alcohol and drugs. The doctor may make a change in medications or prescribe additional CBT therapy.

Different Types of Bipolar Disorder

There are four different types of bipolar disorder with varied features in terms of which mood episode is predominant. These types include:

Bipolar I Disorder. Bipolar I is the most common and most severe form of bipolar disorder, characterized by manic episodes that last for at least seven days or with manic symptoms so severe that acute stabilization in a hospital setting is necessary. The depressive episodes may last two weeks or more.

Bipolar II Disorder. Bipolar II is defined by a pattern of manic and depressive episodes, but not to the same severity of Bipolar I.

Cyclothymic Disorder. Cyclothymic Disorder, or cyclothymia, is features repeated periods of manic symptoms and depressive symptoms lasting at least two years, however the symptoms do not reach the diagnostic criteria for manic or depressive episodes.

Other Specified and Unspecified Bipolar Disorders. This category includes bipolar disorder symptoms that do not fit into the above categories.

What to Expect in Residential Bipolar Disorder

Even knowing the warning signs of a bipolar meltdown, some individuals with this disorder may find that their efforts to manage it through outpatient practitioners are unsuccessful. Deteriorating bipolar disorder can become debilitating, with serious impairment in daily functioning and a significant reduction in quality of life.

Residential treatment provides a space for healing. In this setting, the individual will be free from external triggers that agitate the disorder, allowing them to attain a sense of calm while receiving specialized treatment. Treatment for bipolar disorder includes the following:

Medication: Mood stabilizing medications, such as antipsychotics and antidepressants, are the most commonly prescribed drugs for treating bipolar disorder. The specific type of bipolar disorder will dictate the medications. Lithium is the predominant medication prescribed for controlling bipolar disorder, in addition to anticonvulsants and SSRIs. Medication compliance is essential for maintaining emotional stability.

Psychotherapy: Thoughts can influence behaviors, and negative thoughts can lead to self-destructive behaviors. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most commonly used form of psychotherapy for treating bipolar disorder. CBT therapists will guide the individual to identify thought distortions or triggers that lead to the disruptive behaviors, and help them change these destructive thought patterns.

Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy.  IPSRT provide life skills that helps the patient learn how to better predict and manage the bipolar episodes. This therapy focuses on the importance of maintaining a consistent daily routine, in addition to improving interpersonal relations and stress management.

Holistic: Experiential and holistic therapies can aid in the healing of severe bipolar disorder symptoms and promote overall wellness. These activities might include massage therapy, yoga, deep breathing techniques, practicing mindfulness, guided meditation, and aromatherapy.

Lifestyle: Because establishing a healthy routine is an essential aspect of managing bipolar disorder, inpatient treatment centers will counsel patients on diet and exercise. Sticking to a regular sleep schedule, getting regular exercise, eating nutritiously, and managing stress are all intrinsic to achieving stability and reducing the probability of a relapse.

Minimizing Bipolar Disorder Relapse

Although there is no cure for bipolar disorder, the condition can be managed using a combination of psychotherapy, medication, and lifestyle adjustments. By being vigilant and proactive with these interventions, an individual can expect to enjoy more stability and overall wellness while living a productive life.

Following residential treatment, it is helpful to continue to integrate the holistic methods introduced there into daily life. These practices help to regulate stress, which is a trigger for bipolar. In addition to the relaxation methods, using the new thought and behavior patterns learned through CBT training becomes a foundational coping mechanism. Continuing to receive ongoing outpatient therapy is another aftercare effort that should be included following inpatient treatment.

Bipolar disorder doesn’t only impact the individual, but also affects those within their orbit. Bipolar support groups can be very helpful to both the individual with the disorder and their loved ones, as these groups offer helpful tips and strategies for family members managing life alongside someone struggling with bipolar disorder. Not only with the family support help the family better understand their loved one’s BPD, but it can help to foster a calmer and better functioning family dynamic.

An important aspect of maintaining quality of life following treatment is learning how to spot the warning signs of a bipolar meltdown. Even the most diligent adherence to ongoing continuing care efforts, a relapse is still a possibility. In fact, according to a study published in the Iranian Journal of Psychiatry, at least 75% of those with bipolar disorder will experience relapse. Some warning signs include sleep disturbance, increasing irritability, restlessness, trouble concentrating, isolating behaviors, feeling “flat,” and suicidal thoughts.

Can Bipolar Disorder Become a Disability?

In severe cases of bipolar disorder, where the individual is so impaired by the disorder that they are unable to function effectively on the job, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits may be available. There are various considerations the Social Security Administration will review prior to approving benefits, but knowing that a bipolar disability may warrant SSDI benefits provides peace of mind to individuals with extreme cases.

The SSA Blue Book details the evaluation criteria that will determine whether the person meets the eligibility threshold. Generally, benefits will be considered if impairment exists in the work environment after a history of consistent manic and/or depressive episodes resulting in two of the following three restrictions:

  • Severe limitation of daily activity
  • Inability to interact normally with coworkers or management
  • Deterioration of mental health despite treatment that helped previously

Regardless of whether the applicant for SSDI meets the above criteria, they can still qualify if they have a medical history that documents a minimum of two years with a diagnosed affective (mood) disorder, including bipolar disorder.

Elevation Behavioral Health Treats Bipolar Disorder

Elevation Behavioral Health is a Los Angeles-based residential mental health center that offers a wide array of services for individuals in need of more intensive intervention for bipolar disorder. Using a blend of evidence-based and holistic treatment methods offers a more comprehensive approach. The beautiful private facility offers upscale accommodations and spa-like amenities, which enhance the overall treatment experience. For more details about our treatment program for bipolar disorder, please reach out to Elevation Behavioral Health today at (888) 561-0868.

 

signs of mania bipolar

Hypomania and mania represent the manic episodes that come with bipolar disorder. While the signs of mania bipolar may at first seem to be a pleasant diversion from the dark depressive episodes that represent the opposite side of the disorder, the manic phase can also be destabilizing and self-destructive. The feelings of invincibility can lead to delusions of grandeur that result in behaviors that are regretted once the manic episode subsides.

People with undiagnosed bipolar disorder will find its symptoms disruptive to all areas of their life. The extreme mood swings will not only impact one’s career, relationships, and psychological wellbeing, but can also affect anyone closely associated with the individual. The signs of mania bipolar can result in family financial problems, incomplete work projects that affect coworkers, and dangerous behavior that can result in injury to others.

Diagnosis of the disorder will begin the process of treating these disruptive symptoms and thereby improve daily functioning. Managing the bipolar disorder will involve ongoing therapy and medication. By adhering to the treatment plan, and continuing to work on psychosocial skills, individuals with bipolar disorder are able to live a productive, fulfilling life.

About Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder, formerly referred to as manic-depressive disorder, is a mood disorder that involves intense mood shifts, alternating between manic and depressive episodes. The depressive episodes feature feelings of sadness, fatigue, loss of interest, slowed movements, changes in eating and sleeping habits, and suicidal ideation. The manic episodes feature extremely elevated mood, lack of sleep, loss of appetite, impulsive or risky behaviors, and excessive talking.

There are varying degrees of intensity of these episodes, so for that reason bipolar disorder has four classifications:

Bipolar I: The individual experiences both manic and depressive episodes that vary in length, but at least one manic episode that includes psychotic features must last seven days or longer for diagnosis. The manic episode may have been shorter but was severe enough to require hospitalization. Mania is more prevalent in bipolar I.

Bipolar II: The individual experiences hypomania instead of mania. Hypomania is a less severe form of mania. Diagnosis will depend on the individual having experienced at least one hypomanic episode and one depressive episode. Depressive episodes are more prevalent in bipolar II.

Cyclothymic disorder: The individual experiences a milder form of bipolar disorder, with episodes of less severe mania and depression that resembles moodiness instead of bipolar disorder, and lasts more than two years. Untreated cyclothymic disorder can develop into bipolar disorder.

Unspecified: This classification involves abnormal mood disorder symptoms that do not fit a specific pattern.

What are the Signs of Mania Bipolar?

The manic episodes involved in bipolar disorder are characterized by an intensely elevated mood state. A manic episode may last a few hours or several days, and may involve psychotic symptoms. The signs of mania bipolar include:

  • Abundant energy
  • Intense euphoria
  • Racing thoughts
  • Excessive talking, rapid speech
  • Reduced need for sleep
  • Difficulty concentrating or staying on task
  • Highly distracted by multiple stimuli
  • Impulsivity
  • Feelings of grandiosity
  • Restlessness
  • Disjointed thoughts
  • Intensified senses, light, sounds, colors
  • Engage in risky behaviors
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Paranoia

People experiencing mania may require hospitalization if symptoms include psychosis, or when episodes last several days.

How to Manage the Signs of Mania Bipolar?

When a manic episode ensues the individual may find their symptoms getting out of control. Abnormal energy levels may prevent someone from completing assignments at school or work. Exaggerated self-esteem may come off as a sense of superiority, and seen as off-putting to coworkers and friends. Minimal sleep over several days can impact health and wellness. Impulsive behavior can result in high risk situations that lead to injury or damages.

When the symptoms of a manic episode emerge there may be a very short window to proactively manage the oncoming slate of symptoms. Seeking out the help of a support system and reaching out to one’s doctor or therapist can help prevent an episode from becoming full-fledged. Better yet is taking the steps prior to seeing the signs of an upcoming manic episode. These proactive steps might include:

  • Maintain a regular sleep schedule
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs
  • Learn how to manage stress using relaxation techniques
  • Adhere to medication
  • Continue with outpatient therapy

How Is Bipolar Disorder Treated?

Treatment for bipolar disorder will involve a combination of medication and psychotherapy. In more severe cases, electroconvulsive shock therapy (ECT) may be utilized. Holistic activities, such as taking yoga, getting regular exercise, mindfulness training, and maintaining a healthy diet can also be beneficial for individuals with bipolar disorder.

Medications: Depending on the class of bipolar disorder the medications may include antidepressants, antipsychotics, and mood stabilizers

Psychotherapy: Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most used form of psychotherapy for treating bipolar disorder. CBT therapists will guide the individual to identify thought distortions or triggers that lead to the disruptive behaviors, and the change the destructive thought patterns. In addition to CBT, interpersonal and social rhythm therapy and family-focused therapy are helpful as well.

When the symptoms of bipolar disorder are not improving through outpatient mental healthcare, it may indicate that more intensive approach is warranted. A residential program offers more focused and integrative interventions in an environment that is free of the usual triggers or stressors that can result in the mood swings. This allows the clinical team to give the individual more targeted and individualized attention that can benefit them significantly after they complete the program.

Elevation Behavioral Health Provides Luxury Residential Mental Health Services

Elevation Behavioral Health is a Los Angeles-based residential mental health center that offers a wide array of services for individuals in need of a more intensive treatment approach. With a blending of evidence-based and holistic treatment methods, a broader spectrum of care can result. The beautiful private facility offers upscale accommodations and resort-like amenities, which enhance the overall experience while being cared for at Elevation. For more details about our treatment program for bipolar disorder, please reach out to Elevation Behavioral Health today at (888) 561-0868.

 

Signs of Bipolar Depression Relapse

Living with bipolar disorder can be seen as an exercise in both patience and proactive planning. Patience, because the fact is that bipolar disorder is a chronic and complex mental health disorder that is ever shifting, and proactive planning is key to managing the warning signs of an impending relapse.

And relapse there will be. Bipolar disorder is a lifelong diagnosis, the alternating manic and depressive episodes that one must learn to manage. Even the most valiant efforts to stave off recurrence may fail when signs of bipolar depression relapse are flashing. But doing something is a better option than doing nothing when impending relapse is on the horizon.

Sometimes a relapse will completely surprise the person. There may not be any foreseeable signs of bipolar depression relapse on the horizon—it just happens. Even though the relapse was unforeseen, there are still steps to take to mitigate the symptoms of depression. Living with bipolar disorder is all about management.

About Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder, once known as manic-depressive disorder, is a mental illness that features extreme shifts between manic emotional states and depressive emotional states. In most cases, bipolar disorder appears in the teen or early adult years, and affects 2.6% of the U.S. adult population, or approximately 5.7 million people, according to the National Institute on Mental Illness. Of those diagnosed with bipolar disorder, more than 8 out of 10 will have a severe form of the mental health disorder.

While bipolar disorder is characterized by extreme mood swings between mania and depression, there are variations of the disorder. These include:

Bipolar I Disorder: Features dramatic mood swings between manic episodes and depressive episodes, with normal period between them.

Bipolar II Disorder: Features at least one depressive episode and one hypomanic (less severe than manic) episode. Depression symptoms are more prevalent.

Cyclothymic Disorder: Features milder versions of both mania and depression that occur often.

Bipolar Disorder Not Otherwise Specified: Features the symptoms of mania and depression that do not meet diagnostic criteria.

Common Bipolar Depression Relapse Signs

Although the actual cause of a bipolar relapse is still unknown, there may be a pattern of triggers or situations that can lead to a bipolar depression relapse. Lack of sleep and too much stress are common triggers that can bring on a bipolar relapse. Research shows that at least 75% of those with bipolar disorder will experience relapse, according to a study published in the Iranian Journal of Psychiatry. Bipolar II disorder, which is defined by the prevalence of depressive episodes, is more prone to relapse.

Some of the signs of bipolar depression relapse include:

  • Increasing irritability
  • Restlessness
  • More headaches, stomachaches
  • Change in eating habits
  • Sleep problems
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Fuzzy thinking
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Avoiding social interaction, skipping school, staying home from work
  • Not taking medication, missing therapy appointments
  • Feeling flat
  • Thoughts of suicide

Anticipate Potential Triggers and Take Preventative Steps

When the signs of an impending relapse are seen, as often they are not and depression can suddenly appear without warning, there are some steps to take to ward off the relapse. Because bipolar is a chronic condition, it may help track the triggers or symptoms of the disorder by keeping a journal. This is a tool that may begin to reveal a pattern of signs that can help the individual become more aware of a forthcoming relapse back into depression.

Also, just anticipating events or situations that might trigger a depressive episode can help prepare for it. Noting on a calendar a few days before a potentially triggering event can help one focus on self-care, to take proactive steps that can possibly diminish the impact of the event. This might include massage therapy, acupuncture, mindfulness meditation, getting quality sleep, eating nutrition rich foods, and seeing the therapist.

Managing Bipolar Disorder

Although there is no cure for bipolar disorder, the condition can be managed using a combination of psychotherapy, medication, and lifestyle adjustments. By being vigilant and proactive with these interventions, an individual can expect to enjoy more stability and overall wellness while living a productive life.

Medication: Mood stabilizing medications, such as antipsychotics and antidepressants, are the most commonly prescribed drugs for treating bipolar disorder. Lithium is the most commonly prescribed medication for controlling bipolar disorder, while anticonvulsants and SSRIs are also utilized often as well. It is important for patients to comply with their medication schedule and dosing to maintain stability.

Psychotherapy: Because thoughts can influence behaviors, and negative thoughts can lead to self-destructive behaviors, cognitive behavioral therapy is an excellent therapy for helping individuals with bipolar disorder. CBT helps one identify and correct the irrational and troublesome behavior patterns associated with bipolar disorder.

Lifestyle: Establishing a healthy routine is an essential aspect of managing bipolar disorder. Sticking to a regular sleep schedule, getting regular exercise, eating nutritiously, and managing stress are all intrinsic to achieving stability and reducing the probability of a relapse.

Even a diligent adherence to these important treatment methods may not deter the signs of bipolar depression relapse. Bipolar disorder remains an unexplained mystery in many ways, including the cycling of relapses. However, by charting thoughts, feelings, situations, trigger exposures, emotional issues, work and family issues, and health conditions, managing pre-relapse situations and taking proactive steps can help avoid the onset of a relapse.

Elevation Behavioral Health Residential Treatment for Bipolar Disorder

Elevation Behavioral Health is a Los Angeles-based mental health provider that provides residential services for individuals with bipolar disorder. When symptoms have worsened and relapse becomes a chronic issue, a stay at Elevation Behavioral Health may provide the intensive and focused care needed. Our expert clinical team will design a customized treatment protocol that addresses each individual’s unique bipolar features for best results. Using a medley of evidence-based therapies and holistic approaches, Elevation Behavioral Health addresses all aspects of the person. For more details about our residential program, please contact Elevation today at (888) 561-0868.

trauma counseling

A traumatic experience can remain deeply troubling for a period of time, impacting daily life and overall wellness. Having witnessed or personally experienced a traumatic event may leave psychological wounds and a heightened sense of emotional arousal that can cause impaired functioning, ill health, or relationship problems. While most people who experience trauma will eventually process the fallout, some may go on to develop pot-traumatic stress disorder, a prolonged and more severe form of trauma disorder.

Trauma counseling is a key element in the process of healing after experiencing a shocking or distressing event. A trauma therapist is trained to use specialized therapies that help take the edge off the traumatic memory, allowing the individual to become less sensitive to the memories of it, or the people, places, or situations that may trigger the memories. Trauma counseling, and adjunctive therapies that compliment the counseling, allow the individual to gradually move forward in their lives.

Trauma Defined

So how is a trauma different from any other upsetting event? A traumatic event tends to cause an intense psychological response when the individual feels they are in a dangerous or life-threatening situation. Traumatic events might include a natural disaster, military combat, a serious car accident, a violent physical or sexual assault, or the sudden unexpected death of a close loved one. Trauma often makes the individual feel a loss of control over their safety.

Signs of Trauma Disorder

Living through a traumatic event can shake someone to the core. Trauma symptoms include:

  • Shock
  • Anger
  • Denial
  • Mood swings
  • Flashbacks
  • Nightmares
  • Insomnia or sleep disturbance
  • Persistent feelings of sadness and despair
  • Headache, intestinal problems
  • Feelings of guilt or shame
  • Emotional detachment
  • Feeling isolated
  • Hopelessness
  • Anxiety
  • Trust issues
  • Loss of interest in usual sources of enjoyment, withdrawing from friends and family
  • Substance abuse

What Is Trauma Counseling and How Does It Work?

When an individual is struggling to overcome the effects of the trauma to a point where it is negatively impacting daily functioning and quality of life, it is appropriate to seek treatment. Goals of overcoming trauma include reclaiming one’s personal power, to shift focus from the past to the present, and to reduce the impact that the trauma has on one moving forward.

Mental health professionals use a variety of modalities to help individuals overcome the intense effects of the trauma. These might include:

Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.  TFCBT is designed for helping individuals overcome trauma by reshaping the thoughts associated with the trauma that led to the negative emotions and behaviors. By helping the trauma victim express their feelings about the experience, the therapist will show them how those thoughts have led to withdrawal, guilt, loneliness, anxiety, etc. By encouraging the individual to examine the negative thoughts and reframe them in a more productive manner, the trauma loses potency.

Psychodynamic Therapy. This is a longer-term therapy that delves into childhood experiences and how they may relate to issues in their adult life. The insights gained during psychodynamic therapy can help the individual develop a new perspective on those childhood experiences, as well as dysfunctional adult interpersonal relationships, how to rise above them and not allow them to negatively impact their present daily life anymore.

Exposure Therapy. This is a short-term behavioral therapy that helps individuals become less sensitive to the memories or triggers of the trauma. By encouraging discussion of the event and gradually exposing them to the triggers within a safe environment, the impact is gradually reduced over time. This helps with the avoidance behaviors they may have acquired following the trauma.

Adjunctive Therapies for Treating Trauma

In addition to the various traditional psychotherapies used, there are some excellent alternative therapies that compliment and augment those therapies. These include:

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). EMDR is a type of therapy that helps individuals by desensitizing them to the disturbing memories of the trauma. EMDR is an 8-phase program that focuses on the past, present, and future. The therapist will have the client follow an object or finger back and forth with their eyes while discussing the disturbing memory, the related emotions and beliefs, which has the effect of reducing the impact of the trauma over the course of the sessions.

Neurofeedback. Neurofeedback is a type of biofeedback where the individual’s brain wave patterns and activity can be modified through a computer software program, training the individual to be calmer when thoughts of the trauma arise.

Holistic Activities. Holistic practices can help promote relaxation while reducing stress, which can help in the response to thoughts of the trauma. Managing stress through deep breathing exercises, mindfulness meditation, guided imagery, yoga, massage therapy, and acupuncture can benefit the individual as they heal from the trauma.

When a Higher Level of Care is Appropriate for Trauma Disorder

When efforts to relieve the symptoms of trauma are not successful using outpatient services, it may be necessary to consider a higher level of care. Individuals whose trauma disorder is seriously impacting their daily life and their relationships may benefit from a more focused approach at a residential treatment center. This safe, supportive setting allows the individual to fully focus on getting better without the daily distractions and triggers that have so far impeded that effort. Customized treatment plans will provide the most tailored, intensive treatment approach to healing from the traumatic event and getting one’s life back.

Elevation Behavioral Health Provides Trauma Counseling in a Residential Setting

Elevation Behavioral Health is a residential mental health program in Los Angeles, California. Trauma victims who have not yet been able to move through the residual emotional pain find that the safe, supportive setting of a residential program helps them heal. Leaving the reminders or triggers of the trauma by residing at Elevation Behavioral Health for a period, patients find much needed solace. Individualized treatment plans incorporate a combination of relevant interventions to allow patients to move past the painful memories and regain control over their lives within a compassionate environment. For more information about trauma counseling and treatment options, please reach out to Elevation Behavioral Health today at (888) 561-0868.