Bipolar Disorder, Addiction and Weight Problems

Bipolar disorder is a brain disorder that results in major shifts in mood, energy and activity levels. The symptoms of bipolar disorder are not the common highs and lows that everyone experiences on good or bad days. Rather, they are severe shifts in mood and brain function, which can result in damaged relationships, poor job performance and other negative effects.

During manic periods symptoms of bipolar disorder include the following:

  • Exhibiting an overly happy or outgoing mood
  • Feeling agitation
  • Feeling jumpy
  • Talking very fast
  • Experiencing racing thoughts
  • Being easily distracted
  • Experiencing insomnia
  • Acting impulsively
  • Acting out in high-risk, pleasurable behaviors, such as sex, shopping sprees and gambling

Symptoms of bipolar disorder during depressive periods include the following:

  • Feeling worried
  • Feeling empty
  • Losing interest in enjoyable activities, such as sex, eating and being with family
  • Experiencing trouble concentrating
  • Experiencing difficulty making decisions
  • Feeling irritable
  • Changing eating patterns
  • Experiencing suicidal thoughts

Like other physical problems, such as diabetes or heart disease, bipolar disorder is a long-term illness. However, it can be successfully managed throughout a person’s life.

Bipolar Disorder and Weight

A person who is diagnosed with bipolar disorder experiences bouts of extreme elation followed by extreme depression. With both of these extremes comes the possibility of shifts or changes in appetite. For example, if a person is experiencing a depressive episode, he or she may not want to eat anything and may not want to exercise.

During a manic state, that same person may want to binge on food or may exercise as a means to deal with manic symptoms. These unusual eating patterns can affect one’s metabolism, leading to problems with weight maintenance and possibly weight gain. In addition, many of the medications used to treat bipolar disorder can have unwanted side effects related to weight. These effects are common but can be confusing and frustrating for someone who is trying to maintain a healthy weight.

Bipolar Disorder and Drug Addiction

Unfortunately, bipolar disorder and the weight issues accompanying it can lead a person to use drugs to deal with these problems. For example, a person who is depressed may take a drug to self-medicate symptoms. A person who has gained weight because of bipolar disorder may abuse drugs that suppress appetite. Over time, a person can become dependent on the drugs to meet his or her needs in an unhealthy and unsafe manner.