Substance-Induced Bipolar Disorder

Substance-Induced Bipolar DisorderAccording to Psych Central, bipolar disorder is a mental disorder that is marked by one or more manic episodes (or periods of euphoria, excessive energy, and excitement), often combined with one or more major depressive episodes. Bipolar disorder can be further labeled as manic, depressed, or mixed, depending on a person’s behavior. These manic and depressive episodes cycle back and forth with varying degrees of non-descriptive behavior.

In a manic state, a person may behave erratically and impulsively, such as going on shopping sprees, gambling compulsively, and engaging in self-destructive behaviors (like unprotected, indiscriminate sexual activity). In a depressed state, person may withdraw from others, lose his appetite, and even contemplate or attempt suicide.

Sometimes the symptoms of bipolar disorder can be exhibited by a person who doesn’t actually have the disorder. These symptoms occur because that person uses drugs. Both prescription and illicit drugs can induce the symptoms of bipolar (mood) disorder. According to a 2012 article released on Medscape, a drug-induced mood disorder is more likely to occur in people with a personal or family history of mood or substance disorder, but anyone can exhibit the symptoms, depending on how the drugs interact with a person’s chemical balance in the body and brain.

Signs of Drug-Induced Bipolar Disorder

In order for a person to be diagnosed with substance-induced bipolar disorder, he or she must meet several qualifications.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), criteria that indicate drug-induced bipolar disorder include:

  • A persistent depressed mood or elevated, manic mood.
  • Symptoms of the mood (s) developed simultaneous with drug use or withdrawal.
  • The mood(s) cannot be better explained by a clinical diagnosis of a mood disorder.
  • The symptoms (elevated or depressed mood) cause significant distress or impairment.

Diagnosing a substance-induced bipolar disorder is somewhat akin to a process of elimination. When other causes of bipolar disorder are eliminated, the likely cause is substance use or abuse.

Substances known to cause mood disorders like bipolar disorder include:

  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Cocaine and amphetamines
  • Hallucinogens (PCP, LSD, Ketamine)
  • Nicotine
  • Opioids (morphine, oxycodone, Vicodin, heroin)
  • Sedatives (barbiturates, Valium, Ativan, Xanax, marijuana)

Sometimes the symptoms of bipolar disorder present themselves as a person takes the drug, while in other instances, the symptoms occur during withdrawal (such as depressive symptoms appearing when cocaine leaves the body). Fortunately, the symptoms of drug-induced bipolar disorder will wane and disappear within hours or days after the substance abuse has stopped. However, according to SAMHSA, some psychotic symptoms—such as those caused by heavy, long-term amphetamine abuse, as well as the problems with memory, concentration, and problem solving caused by using alcohol, inhalants like gasoline, and amphetamines—can remain indefinitely.

Getting Help For Your Addiction

If you are experiencing the symptoms of substance-induced bipolar disorder, we can help. You can call our toll-free helpline any time, 24 hours a day. You can talk with one of our admission counselors who can help you determine the best action plan and source of treatment for your unique situation. Don’t allow mood-altering drugs to control your life anymore. Call us today and start on the road to recovery.