A member asked:

Can smoking cigarettes and abusing alcohol look like bipolar disorder? i was diagnosed with bipolar after i started using. now i quit and need info.

9 doctors weighed in across 3 answers
Dr. Lincoln Bickford answered

Specializes in Psychiatry

Either is possible: Substances including alcohol can cause severe mood symptoms that can mimic depression or bipolar disorder. However, many people with mood disorders such as bipolar use substances to self-medicate (which usually worsens the condition). Family history and course of symptoms over time are important to ascertain, and an evaluation by a psychiatrist would likely be very helpful to you.

Answered 9/28/2016


Dr. Gehrig Harris answered

Specializes in Family Medicine

Bipolar and alcohol: You would be a tough patient to diagnose because although alcohol abuse can look exactly like bipolar disorder, it is very common for bipolar persons to abuse alcohol and other drugs in an attempt to self treat depression or during periods of mania. If you've quit abusing alcohol, this is great and you should see your psychiatric now that you're sober and you may get a better evaluation.

Answered 5/1/2016


Dr. James Rotchford answered

Specializes in Addiction Medicine

Common dilemma: The other answers are good in that they confirm a common clinical dilemma. My answer is to avoid dilemmas, abstain from alcohol, get professional support for your mood disorder and be followed over time to assure progress and optmal care.

Answered 3/9/2015



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