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Is there a link between Bipolar Disorder and PTSD?
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Many people have both post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and bipolar disorder. You can tell the difference here. Bipolar illness and/or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) diagnosis might be more difficult than it appears. This makes it more difficult to acquire an accurate diagnosis and the optimal therapy for both illnesses. A combination of the two situations is also feasible – and very common.
Regardless of how seasoned a doctor is, he or she may not be able to correctly diagnose a patient straight away. It is important to know the fundamental differences between PTSD and bipolar illness in order to get the most effective professional care possible.
PTSD vs. Bipolar Disorder
When it comes to mental health, the DSM-5 defines PTSD as a trauma-related condition, and bipolar as a mood-related disease. A severe or very stressful incident triggers the onset of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A person with PTSD may be able to relive the incident, avoid settings that remind them of it, and have a hypervigilant condition while encountering reminders of the event. They may perceive danger even when none exists, which may lead to a stressed reaction.
Bipolar disorder is a mental illness characterised by mood swings lasting at least four days. Manic or hypomanic episodes (mania or hypomania), depressive episodes (depression), or both are possible for people with bipolar disorder. Mania is characterised by increased energy, a heightened sense of self-esteem, and an overall sense of well-being, even if one hasn’t had enough sleep.
Mania and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) share similar characteristics, such as irritability and engaging in risky activities. Depression may accompany bipolar illness or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Some of the symptoms and characteristics of each of these disorders may be seen in the other:
- low mood
- difficulty feeling positive, optimistic, or joyful
- trouble sleeping
- losing interest in things you once enjoyed
- isolating from friends and family
- suicidal thoughts
Unlike bipolar disorder, PTSD symptoms are related to trauma:
- intrusive memories of the traumatic event
- avoidance of reminders
- cognition and mood changes related to a specific event or trigger
- feelings of hypervigilance when reminded of the traumatic event
- trouble recalling the traumatic incident
- experiencing an intense physical response when reminded of the trauma
Trauma is not a known cause of bipolar illness, although it may trigger an episode. It is possible for both PTSD and bipolar illness to cause insomnia and sleep difficulties, although in distinct ways.
Mania (excessive activity and restlessness) is a common symptom of bipolar illness and may keep a person up at night. People with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) don’t often suffer from mania, although they may nevertheless suffer from sleeplessness.
Can you have both PTSD and bipolar disorder?
PTSD and bipolar illness may coexist. There are many people who suffer from both ailments. A traumatic experience was described by 72.3% of patients with bipolar illness in a research conducted in 2020. A PTSD diagnosis was given to around 37% of those who took part in the research. A 2017 review of published research found:
- 4% to 40% of people with bipolar disorder also have PTSD
- Women with bipolar I disorder compared to bipolar II disorder are more likely to have PTSD
- 6% to 55% of people with PTSD had bipolar disorder
- People living with both conditions have more or higher-intensity symptoms
Can PTSD cause bipolar disorder?
There’s little evidence that PTSD contributes to bipolar disorder, which is almost always inherited. Trauma, on the other hand, might be a component. Bipolar illness may be more likely to emerge in the wake of a childhood trauma, according to 2020 researchTrusted Source.
The stress of a traumatic event may undoubtedly trigger a bipolar disorder episode, but only in those who are genetically susceptible, according to Dr. Alex Dimitriu, the founder of Menlo Park Psychiatry & Sleep Medicine and BrainfoodMD in California.
Stress, trauma, drug abuse, and sleep deprivation may trigger mood swings in those who have relatives with bipolar disease or a personal history of bipolar disorder.
Why PTSD is sometimes misdiagnosed as bipolar disorder
One of the most misunderstood words in mental health is “bipolar disorder.” Dimitriu thinks it’s no surprise that “bipolar” may be used to PTSD because of its “intense emotions and anxiety,” which “might be thrown into this group as well.”
Bipolar is characterised by mood swings lasting for days, as well as changes in sleep and activity levels. I stress this to all of my patients. Another indicator of bipolar disorder is a pattern of regretted conduct. He says that “mood monitoring helps in this situation.
Those who have been traumatised may find it difficult to open up about it. Medical professionals must be aware of a patient’s trauma history in order to differentiate between PTSD and bipolar disorder, which has many overlapping symptoms.
Treatment options for PTSD
There are options for treating PTSD, which include:
- individual psychotherapy
- group psychotherapy
- medication, primarily antidepressants
Individual psychotherapy can include:
- cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- prolonged exposure therapy
- cognitive reprocessing therapy
Treatment options for bipolar disorder
Treatment options for bipolar disorder almost always include medication, namely mood stabilizers. Mood stabilizers target areas of the brain responsible for mood disruption.
Psychotherapy is often an important component of treatment because it can be challenging living with frequent mood disruptions. Psychotherapy can help a person with bipolar disorder learn to manage their symptoms, maintain a lifestyle that promotes mood stabilization, and prevent the recurrence of mood episodes.
Many people have both post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and bipolar disorder. DSM-5 defines PTSD as a trauma-related condition, and bipolar as a mood-related disease. Some of the symptoms and characteristics of each of these disorders may be seen in the other. PTSD and bipolar illness may coexist. Mania (excessive activity and restlessness) is a common symptom of bipolar illness.
People with PTSD don’t often suffer from mania, although they may nevertheless suffer from sleeplessness. Bipolar illness may be more likely to emerge in the wake of childhood trauma. Stress, trauma, drug abuse and sleep deprivation may trigger mood swings in those who have relatives with bipolar disease or a personal history of bipolar disorder. Medical professionals must be aware of a patient’s trauma history in order to differentiate PTSD and bipolar disorder. There are options for treating PTSD, including psychotherapy and medication.
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