Why a Hypomanic Episode Doesn’t Actually Help You Function

Why a Hypomanic Episode Doesn’t Actually Help You Function

People who struggle with substance abuse often have undiagnosed and untreated/undertreated forms of mental illness. If doctors and therapists discover someone’s mental illness, its symptoms and how it is related to addiction, then they can better treat these co-occurring conditions. One common disorder, Bipolar II, is often the culprit to why a drug or alcohol addiction formed, and hypomania is part of this mental disorder. When someone has a hypomanic episode, it may seem helpful, because she appears to be functioning at a higher level than normal, but the hypomanic episode can set off a chain of events that make the fight against addiction even more difficult. People who struggle with bipolar disorder are usually on medication to control their symptoms. For those with untreated or undertreated bipolar disorder, hypomanic episodes can cause extreme drug-seeking behaviors, because patients who struggle will seek anything to deal with their current problems. However, the right kind of treatment for both conditions can help people overcome their issues to lead normal lives.

Hypomanic Bipolar Symptoms Explained

Hypomanic episodes are different from the extreme manic episode typically associated with bipolar disorder. When someone has a hypomanic episode, he is usually able to continue with work and other daily activities without interruption. There are also never any psychotic symptoms with a hypomanic episode, because it is primarily characterized by a period of expansive, elevated mood or irritability that lasts for at least a period of 4 days, present most of the day, every day. Other symptoms of a hypomanic episode include the following issues:

  • Inflated self esteem or grandiosity
  • Decreased need for sleep; feels rested after only three hours of sleep
  • More talkative then usual or pressured to keep talking
  • Flight of ideas or the feeling that thoughts are racing
  • Distractibility to the extent that attention is too easily drawn to unimportant or irrelevant external stimuli
  • Increase in goal-directed activity, either socially, at work or school, or sexual or psychomotor agitation
  • Excessive involvement in pleasurable activities that have a high danger level or potential for painful consequences

During a hypomanic episode, at least three or more of these symptoms are present for the duration of the hypomania.

Hypomania and Drug Addiction

Although hypomania and other symptoms of Bipolar II disorder can be well managed and controlled with medications and therapy, it can make getting and staying free from addiction more complicated. People who suffer from Bipolar II disorder often feel so good that they decide they no longer need their medication. This false sense of reality can cause a downward spiral as the positive effects of the medications begin to wear off. At this point, the person in recovery may not be able to control the intense drug cravings that creep in when bipolar medications are no longer there to help.

If your loved one has a history of Bipolar II disorder, a hypomanic episode may be the first indicator to friends and loved ones that there is a problem. Helping your loved one get back into therapy, back on medications and back under control as soon as possible can prevent a full-blown manic period. While in rehab, your recovering loved one learned coping skills and relapse triggers that can help prevent relapse. However, when a hypomanic episode is developing, it may be hard for your loved one to actually realize what is happening.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

If your loved one struggles with drug addiction and has a personal or family history of mental illness, like Bipolar II disorder, then a facility that specializes in Dual Diagnosis is important to your recovery. Dual Diagnosis facilities treat mental illness and addiction simultaneously—if one condition is treated without addressing the other, then recovery can be delayed or completely unsuccessful. It is often difficult to discern whether the addiction has been caused by the mental illness or the mental illness surfaced because of the addiction. However, once your loved one’s rehab team of doctors and therapists determines a mental illness is present, they design a treatment plan that best meets the individual’s needs. Dual Diagnosis treatment uses medications, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, family therapy and group therapy for a comprehensive approach to drug treatment. Other holistic options (like nutrition counseling, exercise programs and meditation) help strengthen both the mind and the body. Treating the entire person rather than just the addiction greatly increases the likelihood of rehab success.

Find Help for Addiction and Hypomania

Hypomanic episodes are often a symptom of Bipolar II disorder. This problem is characterized by periods of extreme emotional highs (manic phase) and extreme emotional lows (depressive phase). If you or a loved one struggles with substance abuse and mental illness, then know that we are here for you. Call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline to speak to an admissions coordinator about available treatment options.