What is Bipolar Disorder?

The most prominent feature of bipolar disorder is the occurrence of one or more maniac episodes. It is also considered to a chronic condition as patients suffering from one maniac episode tend to have more episodes in the future. It is found that the average is about four episodes in about ten years if no proper treatment is administered. The patterns of mood swings with depression and manic episodes are individualistic and tend to repeat again and again. Researches indicate that the disorder is caused due to genetic influence. This disorder usually starts of in adolescence or early adulthood and if not treated may show its symptoms throughout life.

Bipolar disorder is such a disorder which brings in other problems like drug or alcohol abuse along with it. Patients tend to abuse drug and alcohol in order to get relief through self medication or to stabilize their mood swings and in severe cases as a mode of self-destruction. These problems need to be treated as well along with treatment for bipolar disorder. About 30% to 60% of bipolar disorder or manic depression patients struggle with drug abuse in an attempt to treat this disorder. These traits are found common among people suffering from poor cognitive function, fretfulness, poor interpersonal skills, social isolation, poverty, and lack of structured activities.

Bipolar disorder and substance use

Patients with bipolar disorder are more prone to substance use and given below are some statistics indicating this:

o Patients of this disorder tend to be eleven times more prone to alcohol abuse or drug abuse as compared to the general population

o The most common drug abuse by bipolar patients is through cocaine and amphetamines followed by marijuana.

o Drug abuse is preferred to medicines as patients fear side-effects due to mix up of drugs

o Usage of drug might lead to extreme conditions of psychological effects among patients of this disorder

Drug abuse and bipolar disorder is a serious problem as usage of drugs lead to psychoactive effects on the brain and can aggravate the disorder. Apart from that it also hinders all kinds of treatment for the problem. But it is proven that drug abuse does not cause bipolar disorder. It is found that drug abuse is more common among adolescent and it is found that by the time it is assessed, the patient has two problems – drug abuse as well as bipolar disorder which needs to be treated separately. Patients need to first undergo detoxification for drug abuse for more than thirty days. The treatment for bipolar patient will not be effective if the body is not completely cleansed of any kind of drug abuse. Also it is seen that once the bipolar disorder is under control, the desire for drug abuse also reduced considerable.

Families of patients with these problems can also help considerably:

o being aware of the extent of drug abuse done by the patient

o by being vigilant of any signs of drug abuse or alcohol

o rehabilitation of the patient for both bipolar disorder as well as drug abuse

o educating the patient about problems of drug abuse

o taking active participation in treatment for drug abuse and bipolar disorder

o by encouraging research in this field