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Bipolar disorder and alcoholism: Are they related?By Mayo Clinic staff
Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/bipolar-disorder/AN00920
- With Mayo Clinic psychiatrist
Daniel K. Hall-Flavin, M.D.read biographyclose window
Daniel K. Hall-Flavin, M.D.Daniel K. Hall-Flavin, M.D.
Dr. Daniel Hall-Flavin, board certified in general psychiatry and addiction psychiatry, is a St. Louis native looking to the Internet as a way to help people improve their health and be more active participants in their own health care by learning from Mayo Clinic's experts.
Dr. Hall-Flavin served on the faculties of Cornell University Medical College, New York Medical College and The George Washington University Medical School before joining the Mayo Clinic staff in 1996. He has special interests in adult psychiatry, addiction psychiatry, pharmacogenetics and personalized medicine. He served as medical director of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence from 1986 to 1999, and is currently involved in translational medicine research involving the introduction of pharmacogenetic technology into the daily practice of community psychiatry.
"With the advent of pharmacogenetics and related fields and the advances in translational medicine, informed collaborative relationships between knowledgeable, capable health professionals and informed, proactive individuals and their families are more vital than ever," he said.
"I'm optimistic that our Internet health education activities will contribute to ever-improving health outcomes for all who participate and apply what is learned."
Tests and diagnosis (1)
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- Bipolar disorder and alcoholism: Are they related?
Treatments and drugs (2)
- Bipolar treatment: Are bipolar I and bipolar II treated differently?
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Bipolar disorder and alcoholism: Are they related?
Is there a connection between bipolar disorder and alcoholism?
from Daniel K. Hall-Flavin, M.D.
Bipolar disorder and alcoholism often occur together. Up to half the people who have bipolar disorder also struggle with alcoholism.
Although the association between bipolar disorder and alcoholism isn't clearly understood, these factors likely play a role:
- Inherited traits. Genetic differences appear to affect brain chemistry linked to bipolar disorder. These same traits may also affect the way the brain responds to alcohol and other drugs, increasing the risk of alcoholism and addiction to other drugs.
- Depression and anxiety. Some people drink to ease depression, anxiety and other symptoms of bipolar disorder. Drinking may seem to help, but in the long run it makes symptoms worse. This can lead to more drinking — a vicious cycle that's difficult to overcome.
- Mania. This upswing from depression is usually characterized by an intensely elated (euphoric) mood and hyperactivity. It commonly causes bad judgment and lowered inhibitions, which can lead to increased alcohol use or drug abuse.
Bipolar disorder and alcoholism or other types of substance abuse can be a dangerous combination. Each can worsen the symptoms and severity of the other. Having both conditions increases the risk of mood swings, depression, violence and suicide.
Someone who has both bipolar disorder and alcoholism or another addiction is said to have a dual diagnosis. Treatment may require the expertise of mental health care providers who specialize in the treatment of dual disorders.
If you've lost control over your drinking or you abuse drugs, get help before your problems become worse and harder to treat. Seeing a mental health expert right away is especially important if you also have signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder or another mental health condition.Next question
Bipolar treatment: Are bipolar I and bipolar II treated differently?
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- Bipolar disorder. National Alliance on Mental Illness. http://www.nami.org/Content/NavigationMenu/Mental_Illnesses/Bipolar1/bipolardisorderbrochure-lores.pdf. Accessed April 3, 2013.
- Bipolar disorder. National Institute of Mental Health. http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/bipolar-disorder/index.shtml. Accessed April 3, 2013.
- Kung S (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. April 4, 2013.
- Hall-Flavin DK (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. April 5, 2013.