Mania is a mental health disorder characterized by periods of extreme euphoria and excitability. Individuals who experience mania have a tremendous amount of energy but can also appear moody or irritable. Many people who have mania use substances to control manic feelings as many of the feelings associated with mania can be uncomfortable. If the mania persists, a person could find themselves addicted to substances such as barbiturates or other “downer” type drugs.
Mania can be associated with manic-depressive disorder, which is known today as bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is characterized by periods of depressed mood followed by periods of manic moods. Approximately 56% of individuals who have bipolar disorder also had experience with substance abuse during their lifetime. Of that group, 46% experienced an addiction to alcohol and 41% were addicted to drugs.
It is difficult to explain the relationship between substance abuse and bipolar disorder. This is due to the effects of both disorders. Some people will abuse drugs to alleviate the highs and lows associated with bipolar disorder. Others may become manic or depressed as a result of abusing drugs or alcohol. There are those in the psychological community who believe that abusing drugs or alcohol may trigger the effects of bipolar disorder.
The chemistry of our brains can influence substance abuse and bipolar disorder. Chemicals such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine affect how a person with bipolar disorder eats, sleeps, and responds to stress. Abusing drugs and alcohol can interfere with the brain’s ability to work properly and can cause irritability, depression, and high energy. The same characteristics found in bipolar disorder. Substance abuse has been found however to have the opposite effect on bipolar disorder and can make the symptoms of bipolar worse.
In order to properly assess the symptoms of mania and substance abuse or bipolar disorder, a mental health professional should be consulted. If there are episodes of mania with substance abuse, the professional will provide treatment for a co-occurring disorder. A co-occurring disorder is the presence of one disorder with the occurrence of another mental health disorder at the same time. A professional who has been trained in treating co-occurring disorders can address both disorders and provide an integrative treatment approach.
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