Bipolar disorder affects nearly 5.7 million people in the United States. Bipolar disorder is equally common in men and women, but there are gender differences in the way that bipolar disorder manifests itself. Understanding these gender differences can help men with bipolar disorder recognize their symptoms and find appropriate treatment.
The Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder in Men
Men and women share the same symptoms of bipolar disorder, with a few differences. For one, men tend to develop the bipolar disorder at a much earlier age, and their first episode is usually mania. Men also tend to have more severe bipolar symptoms and are more prone to manic episodes than women. During these manic episodes, men tend to act out more by doing things like fighting, yelling and drinking, which can lead to jail time or hospitalization. Men with bipolar disorder are also more likely to abuse drugs or alcohol to cope with their illness. Finally, even though men have more severe bipolar symptoms, they are less likely than women to voluntarily seek help for their disorder, putting them at greater risk for suicide than women.
Gender differences aside, here are the most common symptoms of bipolar disorder:
- An extremely elated, happy mood or an extremely irritable, angry, unpleasant mood
- Increased physical and mental activity and energy
- Racing thoughts
- Increased talking, more rapid speech than normal
- Ambitious, often grandiose plans
- Risk taking
- Impulsive activity such as spending sprees, sexual indiscretion, and alcohol abuse
- Decreased sleep without experiencing fatigue
- Loss of energy
- Prolonged sadness
- Decreased activity and energy
- Restlessness and irritability
- Inability to concentrate or make decisions
- Increased feelings of worry and anxiety
- Less interest or participation in, and less enjoyment of activities normally enjoyed
- Feelings of guilt and hopelessness
- Thoughts of suicide
- Change in appetite (either eating more or eating less)
- Change in sleep patterns (either sleeping more or sleeping less)
Bipolar Disorder & Substance Abuse Treatment for Men
Men with bipolar disorder and other types of mental illness are less likely than women to seek help, leading many to turn to drugs and alcohol as a way to cope with their illness. Substance abuse, unfortunately, only aggravates bipolar symptoms and makes them worse.
If you have bipolar disorder and a drug or alcohol problem, it’s important to seek help and support right away. The symptoms of bipolar disorder are disruptive enough without the added stress and health risk of alcohol or drug abuse. Dual diagnosis treatment will address every problem you’re struggling with simultaneously through substance abuse treatment and mental health treatment.
During substance abuse treatment you’ll go through a period of detox so that the symptoms of your substance use can be distinguished from the symptoms of your bipolar disorder. After detox you’ll enter a residential treatment program that includes individual therapy, group counseling, and a 12-step program to address your substance addiction.
At the same time you’re receiving substance abuse treatment, you’ll also receive treatment for your bipolar disorder. This often includes medications such as antidepressants and mood stabilizers in addition to cognitive-behavioral therapy and/or dialectical behavior therapy. Both therapies will teach you the skills you need to replace your old coping behaviors with new, positive ways to cope with your co-occurring disorders.
At Casa Palmera, we understand how difficult it is to suffer from mental illness and a substance abuse problem. Our caring staff is highly skilled and trained at helping men overcome their addiction to drugs or alcohol while at the same time addressing the mental health issues underlying the substance abuse. Don’t suffer in silence any longer.