The Bipolar Symptoms You Might Not Realize Are Symptoms

Alcohol and Drug Abuse

It’s estimated that 50-60% of people with bipolar disorder will abuse alcohol or drugs at some point. In many cases, it can be a form of self-medication; different substances influence the mood in different ways.

Sometimes the use or abuse of alcohol and drugs is a coping mechanism through which a person attempts to dull feeling; being ‘out of it,’ if only for a little while, can seem like welcome relief. Generally, however, abuse of alcohol and drugs only serves to make bipolar symptoms worse.

Next page: four more lesser-known symptoms of bipolar disorder.

Excessive Spending and Impulsivity

I have an aunt who is bipolar, which I only found out much later in life. One of the defining personality traits I remember when I was younger was that she was always buying things. And I don’t just mean buying common purchases more than usual, but all kinds of things.

She owns about ten distinctly different sewing machines, several expensive spinning wheels, more cars than there are drivers in her household, and every weird gadget from nearly every infomercial she’s ever seen. She doesn’t even use any of these things, because by the time they’ve arrived in the mail she’s ordered the next thing she can’t live without and has forgotten all about the others.

The same aunt also built and fully stocked a Y2K shelter back when everyone was convinced the world was going to end in the year 2000, and has joined several religious groups over the years that may or may not have been cults. Self-control is not her strong suit.

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