While media depictions of bipolar disorder might lead you to assume this condition alternates between extreme highs and lows, the experience is less predictable for many people living with bipolar. Dysphoric mania is a somewhat outdated term for what most treatment professionals now call a mixed episode, which simultaneously features symptoms of mania and depression. While this situation may seem contradictory, it’s more prevalent than you might think.
What Is Dysphoria?
On its own, dysphoria is not a mental health diagnosis. Instead, it is a symptom of many underlying issues. Dysphoria is a state of profound dissatisfaction with life or detachment from reality. While it’s a leading characteristic of bipolar disorder, it is also a hallmark of other conditions, like schizophrenia, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, and gender dysphoria.
People with dysphoria tend to report having dark, negative thoughts about the future, combined with unrealistic or implausible expectations. Other side effects of dysphoria include apathy, fatigue, and lethargy. In some cases, dysphoria can also provoke or result from substance abuse.
What Happens During a Mixed Bipolar Episode?
Mixed bipolar episodes are highly paradoxical. Either depression or mania may be the predominant feature, with shades of the opposite condition. For example, you could be dealing with feelings of profound guilt, sadness, and hopelessness while simultaneously fixating on crossing off every task on your to-do list.
Everyone with bipolar disorder shows manic and depressive symptoms to some extent. But various factors trigger mood changes differently for each person. To receive a diagnosis of dysphoric mania, you must experience at least three symptoms of mania during a depressive episode or at least three symptoms of depression while you are also feeling manic or hypomanic.
Managing Dysphoric Mania
Dysphoric mania is a potentially severe condition that needs immediate and ongoing treatment. Suicide is a particular danger because during a mixed episode, people have extremely low self-worth plus the motivation to follow through on a desire to end their lives. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or your behavior is risky to yourself and others, you may need hospitalization.
Dysphoric/mixed episodes can be challenging to treat, even in a clinical setting, because most prescription drugs used to treat bipolar disorder address either depression or mania, but not both. The process of finding the appropriate combination of medications and therapy may take extensive trial and error.
Dysphoric Mania and Substance Abuse
While researchers believe genetics and environmental factors are the leading causes of bipolar disorder with mixed episodes, alcohol and drug dependence may also trigger this condition. The disease of addiction has many severe repercussions on a person’s overall health, quality of life, and ability to manage everyday challenges without resorting to substance misuse.
At Lakeside-Milam, we have been helping people overcome substance use disorders for nearly 40 years. When you contact our caring admissions specialists, they’ll walk you through the process of getting treatment, verify your insurance coverage, and describe all your available options. We are available to speak with you 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Take the next step to improve your quality of life today!