During treatment and recovery from addiction to alcohol or drugs, it’s not uncommon for athletes to discover they’ve been suffering from an untreated mental health issue, such as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or bipolar disorder.
A dual diagnosis, sometimes referred to as co-occurring disorders, is the presence of both the disease of addiction combined with a mental health disorder.
It is not always clear which problem develops first, but research has proven that each condition magnifies and complicates the symptoms of the other.
Frequently, athletes with a dual diagnosis will use alcohol and drugs to dull or numb the painful symptoms associated with each condition. This type of self-medicating can be incredibly destructive and unhealthy.
At Pure Sports Recovery, we understand that lasting healing can only take place when both disorders are individually treated with a scientific, evidence-based approach to recovery.
Once referred to as manic-depressive disorder, Bipolar Disorder (BD) is characterized by dramatic shifts in a person’s moods, going from extreme episodes of depression that are preceded or followed by episodes of intense mania. Head Injury or TBI from contact sports can contribute to the personality changes and intense mood swings athletes can experience.
In both cases, the symptoms are often overwhelming and leave a person suffering from bipolar incapable of functioning normally on a day-to-day basis.
The Most Commonly Diagnosed Types of the Condition are Bipolar I and II
When diagnosing Bipolar I, a person must have suffered an episode of severe mania that lasts a week or longer.
When a person experiences less severe episodes of hypomania, the diagnosis is Bipolar II.
It’s not uncommon for a person suffering an extreme manic episode to experience the symptoms of delusions or hallucinations, and these are often misdiagnosed as having schizophrenia.
Researchers have so far been unable to pinpoint one specific cause of bipolar disorder. Scientists believe a number of factors can lead to the condition, such as genetics, a stressful or traumatic life event, along with changes in brain function and structure.
Despite misunderstandings about the condition, along with the stigma associated with mental health issues especially in the sports community, bipolar disorder is more common than the general public realizes and effects athletes as well.
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimates that nearly 4.5 percent of adults in the United States deal with bipolar disorder at some point in their lives.
Women and men are equally affected by the mental health disorder, with the first symptoms appearing, on average, in early adulthood, around the age of 25. Athletes are also affected by this condition.
Bipolar disorder is not only limited to adults either.
Children and teenagers can develop bipolar, with symptoms of mania manifesting as bouts of rage, irritable frenzy or destructive outbursts rather than euphoria or delusions like adults with bipolar disorder experience.
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