It’s been thrown around in the media and used interchangeably as a nickname for people with erratic behavior, but what is bipolar disorder exactly?
It starts in the brain where dysfunction occurs that impacts mood regulation, energy levels and motivation. Sufferers may feel extremely low at times and have no interest in leaving their home or interacting with others. During manic episodes, they may stay up for days without sleep and act impulsively.
Regardless of whether symptoms are present or not, the disorder requires constant treatment. The exact cause of bipolar disorder is not fully understood, but hereditary connections have been made. Over two-thirds of the bipolar-afflicted individuals have one or more close relatives with the disorder, according to the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance.
There are five types of bipolar disorder, including:
The biggest variation among the types of bipolar is the presence and frequency with which mania occurs. Traditionally recognized as manic depression, bipolar disorder can present with or without mania. Episodes of either depression or mania can be as frequent as every day or two — as they are in rapid cycling cases — or as infrequent as once or twice a year. This can often make the disorder more difficult to diagnose. Despite that, around 100,000 new cases are diagnosed every year, Bipolar Focus reports.
Approximately 5.7 million Americans over the age of 18 have been diagnosed with some form of bipolar disorder, according to WebMD. Anyone can have bipolar disorder. It can start affecting individuals in the childhood years, but this is rare. It is thought to be organic and therefore believed that people are born with it, even though diagnosis isn’t common until late adolescence or early adulthood. The National Institute of Mental Health notes that over half of all cases begin before the age of 25.
You cannot develop this disorder the way that post-traumatic stress disorder or a substance-induced mental illness would occur. Likewise, you can’t cure it either. Treatment for bipolar disorder is not solely resigned to prescription benzodiazepines, although medication has been proven to be more effective than non-traditional treatment options.
Bipolar disorder may be more common in people who have other mental health disorders. Additionally, those who are of a lower socioeconomic status may have a greater predisposal to the disorder. However, this could point more toward a greater likelihood that those with genetic ties to bipolar disorder are more likely to belong to such a class than their disorder being a consequence of it. Often, a given case of bipolar disorder has a hereditary link, and many times, it isn’t recognized until after a diagnosis. If you have a parent who has bipolar disorder, you have a 15 to 25 percent risk of developing it yourself, according to PsychCentral.
While there is no chance of bipolar just going away, there are treatment options to make living life with bipolar disorder more comfortable and stable.
Medication-assisted therapy is most common and effective. Drugs such as Klonopin — a benzodiazepine — are used to even out chemical imbalances in the brain and calm anxiety that can inflict mood swings.
Klonopin is classified as a schedule IV controlled substance. The danger of this drug comes with its potential for abuse. As Klonopin is a highly addictive drug with serious side effects when abused or misused, it’s imperative that those who are prescribed it monitor their use carefully. In addition, benzodiazepines aren’t intended for long-term use, which most bipolar patients need them for.
Everyday Health reports about 60 percent of people with bipolar disorder are also substance abusers. Many with bipolar disorder end up misusing Klonopin the same way someone with chronic pain misuses a prescription opioid pain reliever. They start out using it as prescribed, but when the drug actually helps, they assume larger and/or more frequent doses will increase efficacy. This isn’t the case.
Sales of Klonopin reached $194 million in 2012, per Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News. Thus, there is no shortage of prescriptions for tablets or orally disintegrating wafers going out to American patients. When someone with bipolar disorder abuses Klonopin, symptoms of both depression and mania may be greatly intensified.
Do any of the signs and symptoms of dependence on Klonopin listed below sound like you or someone you know?
If so, you may have a problem on your hands that runs much deeper than bipolar disorder alone.
Treatment for a dependence on Klonopin is just half the battle. In order to sustain recovery once sobriety is achieved, you must seek help for your bipolar disorder, too. Klonopin is no longer going to be a treatment option for you, and drugs like it, such as Xanax, are too risky.
There are, however, alternatives to drug therapies. In one study reported by Health Day, a group whose anxiety was treated via meditation reported a five to 10 percent improvement over a placebo group. According to PsychCentral, a study of the efficacy of acupuncture for depressive symptoms delivered impressive results with 42 percent of those treated experiencing reduced symptoms, compared to only 22 percent in the placebo group.
Detox can be incredibly uncomfortable for abusers of benzodiazepines who suffer from bipolar disorder. Withdrawal is often more extreme in these individuals and accompanied by severe mood swings. Since benzos aren’t a foreseeable treatment option, mood stabilizers may be used to medicate addicts during this time.
If you’ve lost your way on the journey to treating bipolar disorder and you need help getting back on track, you’ve come to the right place. Dual diagnosis treatment that addresses both bipolar disorder and substance abuse is essential. Take charge of your life; pick up the phone and call us today.
Integrated Treatment of Substance Abuse & Mental Illness