Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Marie Miguel of BetterHelp.
Bipolar disorder is one of the most debilitating mood disorders and is considered a form of depression. This is one of the most common mental health disorders in the world affecting more than 20 million adults in the United States every year. If you have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder or depression, you know what it means to go through the ups and downs of this disorder.
Addiction and Depression
Many people suffering from depression end up addicted to drugs or alcohol due to what is considered self-medication. Those who do not even know they have a mental health disorder will often "treat" themselves with illegal drugs or alcohol to make themselves feel "better" or to numb their pain.
“Better” is a relative term, of course, because using substances to check out means short-term comfort and long-term pain. It is essential for those who are addicted to drugs or alcohol to understand their underlying condition if they have one … and many do.
According to the Surgeon General’s report on Facing Addiction in America, more than 40% of people with addiction have a dual diagnosis - that is, a substance abuse issue combined with a mental health concern. Sadly, fewer than half of these people receive treatment for either disorder.
Signs of Depression and Bipolar Disorder
Both of depression and bipolar disorder are characterized by feelings of sadness that can last more than two weeks. Some of the symptoms of depression include:
- Unexplained sadness and periods of crying
- Sleeping too much or inability to sleep
- Eating more than usual
- Lack of appetite
- Weight gain or loss
- Chronic and vague physical problems like headaches and digestive issues
- Feeling guilty, worthless, or hopeless
- Difficulty concentrating
- Inability to make decisions
- Having trouble remembering things
- Lack of interest and pleasure in daily activities that you used to enjoy
- Feeling lost or empty
- Using drugs or alcohol to feel better
- Extreme fatigue or constant tiredness
- Thoughts of suicide
With bipolar disorder, you will usually experience the above symptoms but will also have periods of mania. Mania is characterized by these signs:
According to the Surgeon General’s report on Facing Addiction in America, more than 40% of people with addiction have a dual diagnosis.
- Excess energy and activity
- Feeling invincible
- Reckless behavior such as risky sexual encounters, gambling, shopping sprees, making extreme business decisions, driving recklessly
- Being impulsive, having bad judgment
- Easily distracted
- Feeling more important than everyone else
- Lack of need for sleep
- Feeling happier than usual, extraordinarily optimistic and self-confident
- Hallucinations or delusions
Self Help Options for Bipolar and Depression
Talk to Someone
One of the best ways to get help is to talk to someone, even if it is just a friend or family member. This can be the first step in getting you the help you need. Sometimes just admitting to someone that you may have a problem can put you on the road to recovery.
Also, you may find out that talking to someone leads you to discern the right path for you.
It has been proven that exercise releases endorphins in the brain, which is a natural “feel good” chemical that gives you a feeling of well-being. Exercise also circulates your blood, increases self-esteem, and releases stress. Just taking a walk, going for a jog, or riding a bike for a half an hour can improve your overall physical and mental health.
Another way to make sure you feel your best is to eat healthy food. Your body needs certain vitamins and nutrients to feel good both physically and mentally. For example, deficiency in iron can cause fatigue and depression in some people. Eating the right foods and drinking plenty of water is a simple way to feel your best.
Understand Substance Abuse and Addiction
If you’re relying on drinks, taking unprescribed pills, or abusing prescription pills to manage the mental and emotional pain of bipolar disorder and depression, get help now. Use Psychology Today’s search function to find a therapist who specializes in Dual Diagnosis treatment in your local area.
If you’re coping with substance abuse issues, it’s much better to receive support and regain stability before you develop an addiction.
As noted in the post The Addiction Definition: Why It’s Not The Same As Substance Abuse:
“Dependence doesn’t typically happen instantaneously. Instead, various degrees of substance abuse occur before someone would fit the addiction definition …. For instance, many people binge drink on weekends while remaining sober during the week. Although these people abuse alcohol, they don’t suffer from an addiction—yet.”
By contrast, full-blown addiction is overwhelming and highly destructive. Your drug tolerance mounts up quickly, and you persist in substance abuse, chasing a high despite intensely negative consequences.
Professional Help Options for Bipolar, Depression and Addiction
If you are in a place where Self Help seems insufficient for what you are going through, don’t delay seeking professional help. And if you are feeling suicidal, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 immediately.
Many forms of therapy can help both depression and bipolar disorder. Some of the best treatments include cognitive behavioral therapy, neurofeedback, biofeedback, Gestalt therapy, and talk therapy. Most of these can be done with online therapy, so you do not have to make an appointment or even leave your house! You can start feeling better today.
Inpatient Depression Treatment
If outpatient therapy doesn’t provide enough support, you can explore options for residential treatment, also know as inpatient treatment.
There actually are not that many residential treatment centers that treat depression, and often it's difficult to find a program to addresses depression along with other emotional or mental health conditions. People often try to address these conditions with regular counseling or therapy, which can help, but these often are not sufficient for deep-seated issues that require focused, consistent work to get at the underlying core issue.
If you're considering inpatient depression treatment, you can start by looking at rehabs that specialize in dual diagnosis treatment.
One key metric to look for? The number of professional counseling hours provided by the facility each day.
The Clearing is actually one of the few residential rehabs that specializes in inpatient depression treatment. When you start their program, there is no talk of substances or what you were using. It's all about getting to the underlying core issues that are causing the emotional pain and upset.
For more on how to make an informed choice about residential treatment, check out our post on Choosing Inpatient Treatment for Depression, or download our eBook Healing Underlying Core Issues:
Guest Author Bio
Marie Miguel is an avid internet researcher. She is fueled by her determination to answer the many questions she hasn't been able to find the answer to anywhere else. When she finds these answers she likes to spread the knowledge to others seeking help. She is always looking for outlets to share her information, therefore she occasionally has her content published on different websites and blogs. Even though she doesn't run one for herself she loves contributing to others.