How does alcohol affect bipolar disorder?

The consequences of bipolar dysfunction differ between people and likewise based on the part of the dysfunction that the individual is experiencing.

Alcohol can exaggerate signs of each mania and despair.

Mania signs and alcohol

Alcohol can exaggerate the high mood people have with mania

Alcohol can exaggerate the excessive temper folks have with mania and add to the chance of recklessness. Bipolar dysfunction additionally carries a threat of addictive conduct.

Widespread signs of a manic episode embrace:

  • feeling “excessive” or “wired”
  • intense happiness and euphoria
  • excessive self-confidence or vanity
  • speedy ideas and speech
  • distraction and an incapability to focus
  • sociability and talkativeness
  • speedy ideas and speech
  • impulsive conduct
  • issue sleeping
  • irritability and impatience, which may result in aggression in some folks
  • psychosis, in some circumstances
  • overindulging in pleasurable actions, comparable to alcohol consumption and dangerous sexual conduct

An individual who consumes alcohol throughout a manic part has a better threat of partaking in impulsive conduct as a result of alcohol reduces an individual’s inhibitions.

Depressive signs and alcohol

Widespread signs of depressive episodes embrace:

  • excessive disappointment or irritability
  • a way of isolation, loneliness, and despair
  • emotions of guilt and nervousness
  • speedy weight reduction or weight achieve
  • insomnia
  • incapability to give attention to any job in any respect
  • despair, which can stop the individual from doing something
  • sleeping an excessive amount of or too little
  • suicidal ideas

Alcohol is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant. Consuming alcohol throughout a depressive part can enhance the chance of lethargy and may additional scale back inhibitions.

Whether or not an individual consumes or misuses alcohol throughout a manic or depressive part, it may be hazardous and probably life-threatening for them and for these round them.

Folks may also expertise a blended episode, or speedy biking, during which temper adjustments occur shortly, typically just a few occasions in a 12 months.

As well as, bipolar dysfunction can have a long-term destructive influence on an individual’s relationships, work, and social life. When issues happen, the individual could use alcohol in an try to change their temper in response to those destructive emotions.


In some folks, a manic part can embrace psychosis. The individual could expertise hallucinations, or they might imagine that they’re crucial, that they’re above the regulation, or that no hurt can come to them, no matter they do.

If an individual has psychosis and consumes alcohol, this may result in each short-term and long-term issues.

Alcohol can complicate the therapy of psychosis. Combining alcohol with psychosis will increase the chance of psychological and bodily issues.

Bipolar dysfunction and alcohol misuse

Addictive conduct and alcohol and substance abuse are widespread amongst folks with bipolar dysfunction. Circumstances that always occur collectively are often known as co-morbidities.

Alcohol misuse and bipolar dysfunction may also produce overlapping signs, and so they could set off one another in some circumstances.

Up to now, researchers have famous that signs of bipolar dysfunction seem as an individual withdraws from alcohol dependence. Some scientists have recommended that alcohol use or withdrawal and bipolar dysfunction have an effect on the identical mind chemical substances, or neurotransmitters.

This will trigger alcohol misuse and bipolar dysfunction every to set off signs of the opposite situation.

In 2006, a research of 148 folks concluded that an individual with bipolar dysfunction doesn’t have to drink extreme quantities of alcohol to have a destructive response.

The researchers discovered a direct hyperlink between alcohol consumption and the speed of incidence of manic or depressive episodes, even when research contributors drank a comparatively small quantity of alcohol.

Results on prognosis

In 2011, researchers famous that alcohol misuse may end up in a misdiagnosis of bipolar dysfunction.

Bipolar dysfunction is already troublesome to diagnose, as it could actually share signs with different situations, together with attention-deficit hyperactivity dysfunction (ADHD), schizophrenia, and despair.

Mixed with alcohol use, it may be tougher for medical doctors to determine.

Consequently, an individual with bipolar dysfunction could not get the right therapy that may relieve their signs.

Drugs and alcohol

Each bipolar dysfunction and alcohol consumption trigger adjustments in an individual’s mind.

Bipolar dysfunction is believed to consequence from imbalances in mind chemistry. Scientists imagine there’s a genetic element to the dysfunction. Alcohol is a CNS depressant that individuals use to loosen up.

Folks with bipolar dysfunction typically use drugs to stabilize their signs.

Medical doctors generally prescribe:

  • valproate, or valproic acid
  • lithium, a temper stabilizer
  • antipsychotics comparable to olanzapine (Zyprexa)
  • antidepressants, in some circumstances

Doable interactions

Alcohol and drug interactions

Mixing alcohol and medicines for bipolar dysfunction can result in interactions. Some folks select alcohol over the treatment as a result of taking the medicine will be difficult.

Valproic acid is a CNS depressant that may have comparable results to alcohol. Utilizing each on the identical time can enhance the impact, with doubtlessly severe penalties.

Valproic acid may also trigger liver issues, as can alcohol. If an individual makes use of valproic acid with alcohol, this may increasingly put further pressure on the liver, growing the chance of liver illness.

However, the individual could resolve to skip their treatment with the intention to drink extra “safely.” Nonetheless, not taking the treatment may cause signs to return.

Lithium, too, can have negative effects, together with:

  • lethargy
  • weight achieve
  • tremors
  • gastrointestinal issues

The Nationwide Institutes of Well being give no particular recommendation towards utilizing alcohol with lithium, however a health care provider could present further data.

Challenges with taking bipolar treatment

It may be troublesome to get the treatment proper with bipolar dysfunction as a result of every individual is totally different and will reply otherwise to drugs.

An individual could have to work with their physician for a while earlier than they discover a appropriate treatment and dose.

These difficulties, the doable negative effects of the medicine, and the options of bipolar dysfunction itself could make it exhausting for an individual to maintain to a therapy plan.

Challenges embrace the next:

  • Every particular person reacts otherwise to the drugs, and it could actually take time to seek out the best drug and dose.
  • The medicine can have disagreeable negative effects, particularly originally.
  • If an individual with undiagnosed bipolar dysfunction approaches a health care provider with despair, the physician could prescribe anti-depressants. If the individual has bipolar dysfunction, the medicine can set off a manic episode.
  • Folks typically benefit from the “excessive” occasions related to mania and will miss them once they cease. They could really feel that they’re not “themselves.” In addition they could report feeling “depressed” when the truth is they’re merely not feeling manic.
  • If an individual with bipolar dysfunction develops despair, they might not take their medicine as a result of they overlook or lose motivation.
  • When an individual begins to really feel higher, they might cease taking the medicine, however then the signs could return.
  • Remedy will be costly and time-consuming, particularly if it takes time to get it proper.

If folks grow to be disillusioned with their drugs, some will cease utilizing the medicine and eat alcohol as a type of self-medication. Some folks use alcohol alongside their prescribed drugs, including to the chance.

When an individual takes their treatment, they’re in a greater place to handle their situation. Nonetheless, adhering to therapy will be troublesome for some folks with bipolar dysfunction.

Individuals who have a prognosis of each bipolar dysfunction and alcohol dependence will want a particular therapy plan.

Alternate options to alcohol

Other types of pleasurable experience.

People who find themselves attempting to keep away from alcohol would possibly profit from discovering different forms of pleasurable expertise.

Many individuals see alcohol as a option to loosen up or socialize. An individual who’s avoiding or chopping down on alcohol could discover it useful to exchange the behavior with an alternate feel-good resolution .

Alternate options could embrace:

  • bodily exertion, comparable to a sport or gardening
  • ingesting natural teas, comparable to chamomile
  • meditation, yoga, or tai chi
  • therapeutic massage remedy
  • taking a heat bathtub

The usage of various therapies, comparable to aromatherapy, could assist.


The connection between bipolar dysfunction and alcohol misuse is advanced. There may be most likely not a simple cause-and-effect relationship. As a substitute, they seem to influence one another.

An individual with bipolar dysfunction can often stay wholesome in the event that they take their treatment as a prescribed, and in the event that they keep away from alcohol.

The household and family members of an individual with the situation might help by encouraging healthful behaviors that discourage the consumption of alcohol.

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