Looking at both disorder and how to manage ADHD with Bipolar Disorder.
I often joke about being like the dog from Up! Even when I try my best, the slightest shiny object will steal my attention. I sit down to write a story, and five minutes later, I’m cleaning the grout in the shower with a toothbrush.
While I occasionally have symptoms similar to ADHD, I do not have the condition, but many of you do. In fact, the number of people living with both disorders is shockingly high, some estimates placing it as high as 60%. Let’s take a look at both disorders and how you can cope with each one.
Defining the Disorders
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, is a mental disorder that is characterized by problems with focus, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness. ADHD usually creates consistent symptoms.
Bipolar disorder is a condition that is characterized by extreme changes in mood, energy, and activity levels. Bipolar produces symptoms in episodes or cycles, often varying from high to low and back again.
Both disorders can be difficult to live with, but fortunately, there are ways to manage them.Download Your Copy
Living with Both Conditions
If you have both ADHD and bipolar disorder, you are not alone. In fact, according to the National Library of Medicine, up to 20% of adults with bipolar disorder also have ADHD. However, this figure may far understate the reality. A 2020 paper from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens revealed that 60% to 90% of children diagnosed with bipolar disorder also received an ADHD diagnosis.
Patients living with both disorders may find them more difficult to manage because each condition can amplify the other’s symptoms. For example, if you have trouble focusing because of ADHD, the mood swings associated with bipolar disorder can make it even harder to stay on task.
Symptoms caused by ADHD and those caused by bipolar disorder can be quite similar, especially during manic cycles. For example, both disorders can cause sleep issues, rapid speech, impulsivity, and memory problems. If a doctor only sees a patient during mania, it’s easy to give the wrong or only one diagnosis.
However, other symptoms can give a clearer picture. While manic, someone with bipolar disorder may have increased self-esteem, hypersexuality, and psychosis, all symptoms generally not present with ADHD. Also, patients with ADHD may experience consistent insomnia and persistent symptoms, while bipolar usually has distinct episodes of mania and depression.
Depressive cycles are part of living with bipolar disorder but not ADHD. While depressed, you may feel the need to sleep more, feel intense sadness, have appetite changes, and lose interest in things you normally enjoy. Some people with ADHD can have depression, but these low episodes are more common with bipolar disorder.
You can see how difficult it may be to diagnosis someone who has both conditions. Proper diagnosis often takes time, so try to be patient if you’re in the early days of either diagnosis.
Whether you have ADHD, bipolar disorder, or both together, there are steps you can take to live successfully with them.
Coping with ADHD with Bipolar Disorder
The best way to manage any mental disorder is by being proactive. There are ways to cope with having both ADHD and bipolar disorder. Here are a few suggestions:
- Find a support group: There are many online and in-person support groups for people living with bipolar disorder and ADHD. This can be a great way to connect with others who understand what you’re going through.
- See a therapist: A therapist can help you manage your symptoms and teach you coping mechanisms. They can also provide support and guidance.
- Take your medication: If a medical professional prescribed medication for either condition, it is important to take it as directed. Medication can help stabilize your mood and improve your focus. There are also many natural solutions for coping with each disorder.
- Create a routine: Having a daily routine can help you stay on track and avoid triggers for your symptoms. Try to stick to set times for waking up, eating meals, taking medications, and going to bed.
- Exercise: Exercise has many benefits for mental health. It can help reduce stress, improve sleep, and increase energy levels.
Remembering You’re Not Alone
If you have both bipolar disorder and ADHD, you are one of many. Some studies suggest nearly 60% of people with bipolar disorder have also received an ADHD diagnosis. While this can make both disorders more challenging to manage, you can be successful. Find a support group, see a therapist, take your medication as prescribed, create a daily routine, and exercise regularly to help relieve stress and improve your overall well-being.
Life may have dealt you a complicated hand, but you can still prosper. Never doubt what you can do.
Until next time, keep fighting.
Q: Do people with bipolar disorder always have ADHD?
A: No, people with bipolar disorder do not always have ADHD. However, up to 60% of people with bipolar disorder also have ADHD. This can make both disorders more troublesome to manage.
Q: What are some ways to cope with having both conditions?
A: There are several ways to control ADHD with Bipolar Disorder. See a therapist, take your medication as directed, create daily routines, and get regular exercise to reduce stress and improve your overall well-being. You can also find a support group if you feel you need additional help.
Q: Can medication help stabilize moods for people with both conditions?
A: Yes, medication can help stabilize both conditions. Medication can also help improve focus and reduce symptoms. Many are also learning to manage both ADHD and bipolar disorder using natural treatments.
Q: What is the best way to get help for bipolar disorder and ADHD?
A: The best way to receive care for bipolar disorder and ADHD is to see a mental health professional. A doctor or therapist trained in handling mental conditions can teach you how to manage your symptoms and develop coping mechanisms. They can also provide resources and direction.