A person can have bipolar disorder and anxiety at the same time. When someone has both conditions, one may affect the other, and this will influence their treatment.
Bipolar disorder and anxiety disorders have
According to one 2019 review,
Therefore, it is important for doctors to screen people regularly for both conditions.
Read on to learn more about the connection between anxiety and bipolar disorder.
Anxiety disorders often occur alongside other mental health conditions. However, they are particularly common in people with bipolar disorder.
People with bipolar disorder are
People with bipolar disorder tend to have the following types of anxiety disorders:
- panic disorder
- post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
- obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
Experts are not entirely sure why bipolar disorder and anxiety are connected. As the causes of many psychiatric conditions are not fully understood, and their respective diagnostic criteria can overlap, it may be
Some researchers theorize that certain anxiety disorders are overdiagnosed in people with bipolar disorder.
For 78% of participants, OCD symptoms worsened during their depressive episodes. The study indicates that 64% saw symptoms improve or disappear during periods of mania or hypomania.
Although the link between bipolar disorder and anxiety disorders is not well understood, it is clear that it is prevalent.
Both bipolar disorder and anxiety are treatable, manageable conditions. However, it is important to distinguish between the two, as this will affect the type of medication and therapy a healthcare professional will prescribe.
When a person has both conditions, they may find their anxiety affects the symptoms of bipolar disorder. This could
- more mixed manic and depressive episodes
- an increase in the severity of mood episodes
- medication resistance
- a greater risk of substance use
- medication side effects
- more psychological distress
- poorer quality of life
If you know someone at immediate risk of self-harm, suicide, or hurting another person:
- Ask the tough question: “Are you considering suicide?”
- Listen to the person without judgment.
- Call 911 or the local emergency number, or text TALK to 741741 to communicate with a trained crisis counselor.
- Stay with the person until professional help arrives.
- Try to remove any weapons, medications, or other potentially harmful objects.
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, a prevention hotline can help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours per day at 800-273-8255. During a crisis, people who are hard of hearing can use their preferred relay service or dial 711 then 800-273-8255.
Although anxiety and bipolar disorders have some similarities, they have distinct sets of symptoms and diagnostic criteria.
However, some symptoms suggest a person may have co-occurring anxiety. They include:
- A persistent, intense feeling of nervousness: This can include worrying, anxiety, and panic attacks. A person may also avoid taking part in activities. These symptoms persist during manic and depressive episodes.
- Sleep and anxiety problems: People may find they have issues sleeping even when they are not in a manic state. They may feel persistently anxious despite receiving treatment.
- History of symptoms: Some people may have lived with anxiety and bipolar disorder symptoms from childhood and adolescence.
If someone has an anxiety disorder in addition to bipolar disorder, a doctor should diagnose and treat the conditions together.
Treating one condition and not the other can be
When a doctor, psychiatrist, or psychologist is developing a person’s treatment plan, they will take multiple factors into consideration. Usually, medication and therapy form the basis of the treatment plan.
They will assess the impact of the medication over several weeks and then decide if additional medication is needed.
Because antidepressants are an effective anti-anxiety medication, a doctor may prescribe a very low dose. They will do this carefully to avoid triggering a manic episode.
There are several types of therapy that can help someone with bipolar disorder and anxiety. They include:
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
The goal of family therapy is to reduce stress within a family unit. Stress can worsen anxiety and bipolar disorder symptoms, so it is important that people try to alleviate stressors as much as possible. Family therapy can help both the individual and their family members.
Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy
A person with bipolar disorder can have changes in mood that prevent them from completing day-to-day tasks and socializing. However, keeping steady social rhythms and habits helps stabilize mood. Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy teaches people to record their moods and activities, so they can plan for, and effectively manage, disruptions to their routine.
There are several support options for people with bipolar disorder and anxiety.
The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA)
DBSA is an organization that empowers people with bipolar disorder and anxiety. It has a range of free resources, including podcasts and videos, to help people and their loved ones.
MoodNetwork is a team of psychologists, researchers, and mental health advocates. They all have experience, either personal or professional, with bipolar disorder and anxiety.
They gather information and feedback from people with mood disorders and use it to research new treatment methods.
People living with bipolar disorder are
A person usually receives medication and therapy as part of their treatment plan. Support groups, such as DBSA and MoodNetwork, have excellent resources and provide a sense of community for people living with bipolar disorder and anxiety.