Bipolar Disorder and Men

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:

Mania Symptoms:

  • 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

Depression Symptoms:

  • 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.


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10 Responses to “Bipolar Disorder and Men”

  1. Lindon C.

    My fiance is bipolar. He has the mania symptoms, as a matter of fact I’ve been calling him “the maniac” for the past four years. All of the mania symptoms are the exact problems he is having. When i try to talk to him about bipolar he gets very defensive and agitated. He is an alcoholic and I’ve noticed that when he drinks its extremely worse. After he says the worst things he could say to me in a matter of seconds he’s calling me “baby”. I be so upset at the terrible things that I don’t take in the niceness which makes him even more angry. He will argue with me from sun up to sun down for days on end and won’t think twice about it. Can you tell me how I can get him to seek some help? I love him but the verbal and mental abuse is a bit much and I can’t take it much longer. It doesn’t matter where we are he has a hard time controlling himself and his mouth. He won’t sit still and he can’t sleep. He’s always wanting to shop and travel, etc. I am amazed at the fact that all these symptoms relate to my fiance. I look forward to your response.

  2. Casa Palmera

    Hi Lindon – Thank you for your comment. For more information on how to help your finance and about our services and programming and fees please call 1-866-768-6719 or email

  3. mary

    Lindon…my boyfriend is the same way!! I have a 16 month old and am 8 months pregnant. This is the hardest relationship I’ve ever been in…calling me an awful mother and crazy and the next morning talking about how wonderful out family is and cant wait for the future. ..I hate to say it but I don’t no if I can handle him and 2 babies…its awful. ..I’ve been thinking I’m the crazy one for 2 years now with the hormones…but Im thinking I’m normal now…I’m glad someone else is experiencing this also…I mean I feel bad for you…but I’m glad I’m not alone

  4. Lindon C.

    Hi Mary,

    No, you are not alone. Besides the fact that they are bipolar they have controlling issues which I think is related to bipolar. They make us think it’s us when in fact it’s not. No matter how hard we try they find a way to try to bring down the brighter side of things. He always says “it’s you, not me. Your the one….”. I honestly used to think it was me but then I had to step back and look from the outside in. He used to tell me that he will tell my son what a bad mom I am. I have an 18 year old that is a great student. She just graduated high school and started college.She doesn’t smoke, drink nor do drugs and my kids are ten years apart. I had to sit down and write down all the pro’s and con’s and of course the con’s outweighed the pro’s. It’s funny though, I always feel the need to help him because I know he has mental problems but I can’t seem to permanently get away from him.

  5. Jen G

    After being married for 15 years I have come to realize my husband may be bipolar. I have no other explanation for his extreme behavior. We are a happy family for the most part but then he can pull out the rug from underneath me overnight. I have established a pattern of about every 4-5 months he has an episode. During mania, the sexual drive, desires and thoughts are overwhelming. He tries to hide it by saying he wants to leave me and is not happy. What he actually wants is the freedom to go be promiscuous. I have told him he needs help but says Im the crazy one. I do not take it personal anymore. It used to crush me when he would say he want to leave our family but I know he is ill. Good news is it does pass. It is very difficult to deal with and dont know how many more of these episodes I can endure. God keeps me strong, sane and in peace.

  6. Diane

    Thanks for this site about being bipolar as it relates to men very enlightening

  7. DP

    Thank you for sharing your info. I really appreciate our efforts and I am waiting for
    your next post thanks once again.

  8. Jacqs

    I fell head over heels in love with a guy and everything was going amazing and then suddenly one day, boom he was so nasty! My cousin had just died and he was saying the most god awful things and I was sitting in tears. He would then call as if nothing had happened. I kept forgiving him but a pattern started to follow. He would call and text the most horrible, hurtful and damaging things and expect me to forgive him, the crazy thing was is he would call me bipolar!!!!!! In the end I really did not like who he was, I maybe could have coped if he was seeking help but the very fact that he thought the world was crazy and he was ok was just too much for me to bear. I have to say I am so much happier not to be in that place anymore. Even just a text from him would make me so anxious and that was even before I had read it.

  9. khensani

    my boyfriend too is suffering with bipolar disorder,his moody,happy sometimes he just cry for no reason,his verbally, emotional,and physical abuse,he drinks a lot and smokes a lot,he doesn’t sleep,he always want to sit with his friends drinking all day.he has a short temper,we keep fighting all the time.