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?
Bipolar disorder, formerly called manic depression, is a mental health condition that causes extreme mood swings that include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression).
When you become depressed, you may feel sad or hopeless and lose interest or pleasure in most activities. When your mood shifts to mania or hypomania (less extreme than mania), you may feel euphoric, full of energy, or unusually irritable. These mood swings can affect sleep, point, activity, judgment, behavior, and the ability to think clearly.
It starts in the brain, where dysfunction impacts mood regulation, energy levels, and motivation. Sufferers may feel extremely low at times and have no interest in leaving their homes 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 ongoing treatment. The exact cause of the 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 disease, according to the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance.
There are five types of bipolar disorder, including:
• Type I
• Type II
• Not otherwise specific
• Rapid cycling
The most significant 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 focus. 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.
According to WebMD, approximately 5.7 million Americans over the age of 18 have been diagnosed with some form of bipolar disorder. 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 the diagnosis isn't expected until late adolescence or early adulthood. The National Institute of Mental Health notes that over half of all cases begin before 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 designed to prescribe benzodiazepines, although medication has been proven to be more effective than non-traditional treatment options.
Bipolar disorder may be more common in people with other mental health disorders. Additionally, lower socioeconomic status may have a greater predisposition 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 is a consequence of it. Often, a given case of bipolar disorder has a genetic 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.
Symptoms Of Bipolar Disorders
There are several types of bipolar and related disorders. They may include mania or hypomania and depression. Symptoms can cause unpredictable mood and behavior changes, resulting in significant distress and difficulty in life.
• Bipolar I disorder. You've had at least one manic episode that may be preceded or followed by hypomanic or major depressive episodes. In some cases, mania may trigger a break from reality (psychosis).
• Bipolar II disorder. You've had at least one major depressive episode and at least one hypomanic episode, but you've never had a manic episode.
• Cyclothymic disorder. You've had at least two years — or one year in children and teenagers — of many periods of hypomania symptoms and periods of depressive symptoms (though less severe than major depression).
• Other types. These include, for example, bipolar and related disorders induced by certain drugs or alcohol or due to a medical condition, such as Cushing's disease, multiple sclerosis, or stroke.
Bipolar II disorder is not a milder form of bipolar I disorder but a separate diagnosis. While the manic episodes of bipolar I disorder can be severe and dangerous, individuals with bipolar II disorder can be depressed for more extended periods, which can cause significant impairment.
Although bipolar disorder can occur at any age, typically, it's diagnosed in the teenage years or early 20s. Symptoms can vary from person to person, and symptoms may change over time.
Klonopin is a potentially habit-forming benzodiazepine, with some people becoming addicted to it in as little as a few weeks. Many people have become addicted to Klonopin, taking only the amount prescribed by their doctor. Klonopin blocks special receptors in the brain to reduce anxiety, stress, and difficulty relaxing. Once a person is addicted to the drug, their brains can no longer produce feelings of relaxation and calm without it. This is why people addicted to Klonopin struggle to stop and cannot function normally when they don't have it.
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 they assume larger and more frequent doses will increase efficacy when the drug helps. 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 depression and mania may be significantly intensified.
Signs of Dependency
Do any of the signs and symptoms of dependence on Klonopin listed below sounds like you or someone you know?
• Increased anxiety
• Nausea and vomiting
• Aversion to lights and sounds
• Trouble concentrating
• Heart palpitations
• Trouble sleeping
Klonopin addiction starts when the user builds a tolerance to the drug, which means they need larger doses to get the same effects they once had with smaller quantities. Some users then start taking more than they were prescribed or using the drug to get high. If so, you may have a problem on your hands that runs much deeper than bipolar disorder alone.
Klonopin Effects and Abuse
Although Klonopin effectively treats severe medical problems like epilepsy, it is also a potent drug that is likely to be abused. Any use of Klonopin without a prescription is considered abuse. At higher than prescribed doses, Klonopin significantly depresses the central nervous system. This causes a short, euphoric “high” followed by a hazy, intoxicated stupor. Some people crush Klonopin tablets into a fine powder and snort them to intensify the drug's effects.
When someone abuses Klonopin or takes doses that are too high or uses it for long periods, they may exhibit symptoms such as:
• Impaired cognition
• Slow reaction time
• Impaired judgment
• Reduced libido
Klonopin is most frequently abused with alcohol to intensify both drugs' effects, leading to blacking out and possibly respiratory failure. Some people use Klonopin because it can produce hallucinatory effects when taken in large enough doses. No matter the reason for abuse, large amounts of Klonopin can put users at risk of overdose. Klonopin is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant. As the drug slows the central nervous system, functions like heart rate and breathing are slow and can lead to coma or death.
Signs of a Klonopin overdose include:
• Slurred speech
• Extreme drowsiness
• Unsteady walking
• Reduced attention span
• Memory impairment
• Lack of coordination
When someone abuses Klonopin, they are likely to struggle with body function and overall alertness. After some time, dependent on Klonopin, there is the risk of paradoxical reactions. Paradoxical reactions are the opposite effect of what the drug is supposed to be doing, such as increased irritability, anxiety, agitation, and poor sleep. Long-term use of Klonopin can also lead to depression and panic attacks.
Intervention And Treatment
Sometimes, a simple conversation with your loved one is not enough—an intervention may be required. An intervention is a formal planned process that family members and friends do, sometimes with an intervention specialist. They gather together to tell the person how their addiction has affected them and encourage them to get help.
Tips for conducting an intervention include:
• Telling the person that you are concerned about them.
• Providing examples of how their behavior has affected you.
• Avoiding criticism can make them feel attacked and less likely to want to get help.
• Outlining consequences for what will happen if the person refuses to get help. Etc
Addiction treatment programs come in many shapes and procedures. No single program works best for everyone, as everyone has unique needs.
Typically, addiction treatment starts with detoxification. The person's body can process any remaining substances out of their system to start treatment with a clear head. For people with a Klonopin addiction, this process of detoxification may last several weeks or months.
Possible treatment processes after detoxification include:
• A hospital. Patients with a history of severe medical or psychiatric conditions may begin their hospital treatment.
• Inpatient programs. Patients live at an addiction treatment facility for several weeks. They are monitored by medical professionals and engage in intensive therapy.
• Outpatient programs. Patients visit an addiction treatment facility once or more per week to receive therapy, medical support, and guidance. Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) and partial hospitalization programs (PHPs) resemble inpatient treatment in terms of treatment comprehensiveness and intensity, except patients return home at night.
• A doctor's office. Patients attend regular appointments with their primary care doctor or psychiatrist to receive a supervised Klonopin dose taper.
Some therapeutic approaches to addiction treatment, including:
• Individual therapy. Patients work in private sessions with a counselor, social worker, psychologist, psychiatrist, or addiction specialist to stop or reduce drug use; work through addiction problems such as employment, legal issues, and relationships; and develop tools to stay off drugs.
• Group therapy. A therapist or counselor meets with a group of substance abusers to discuss drug-free living topics. Members support each other in their recovery journeys.
• Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). People are taught a range of skills and techniques to prevent relapse. These include listing the pros and cons of drug use, monitoring cravings, and identifying situations where they might feel like using.
• Motivational enhancement therapy. Therapists help clients find the motivation to quit using drugs, develop a change plan, and engage in treatment.
• Contingency management. Programs use various incentives, such as vouchers for food, movie passes, and other services to reward clients for certain drug-free behaviors, such as submitting a clean urine sample.
• 12-step groups. Twelve-step meetings are a frequent component of other forms of treatment. But in some cases, they may be the primary outlet for recovery. The most well-known programs are Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA). People can receive social support from peers that can help them remain clean
Ben Lesser is one of the most sought-after experts in health, fitness and medicine. His articles impress with unique research work as well as field-tested skills. He is a freelance medical writer specializing in creating content to improve public awareness of health topics. We are honored to have Ben writing exclusively for Dualdiagnosis.org.