For people who are suffering from bipolar disorder, their problems may be compounded by anxiety. In 1921, Dr. Emil Kraepelin described it is as an “excited depression” and “anxious mania”. According to him, anxiety is one of the symptoms of bipolar disorder. This view is highly debatable because some psychologists argue that anxiety is not a symptom. How does anxiety affect a person with bipolar disorder?
To understand how anxiety can affect people who are suffering from bipolar disorder, it’s necessary to answer the question from both angles. On one side, let’s look at anxiety as a symptom of bipolar disorder. In this case, the bipolar patient will suffer from less anxiety as the disorder improves. On the other side, let’s look at anxiety as a condition which is separate from this condition. In this case, the bipolar patient’s condition may improve but the anxiety problems may still persist. The patient will receive separate treatment for anxiety and bipolar disorder. Now, the problem is that antidepressant medication is used to treat anxiety but the medication is not suitable for bipolar patients because it makes the disorder worse.
When anxiety is a symptom, the patients say that they feel some kind of “agitation”. This can be manifested in the way the patients walk around the room as they are being interviewed or they are found to be picking their nails. Other times, the patients may experience the feeling like they have “too much energy” within their skin or their thoughts are racing very fast. In more severe cases, the person may not be able to perform any task at all because he or she will be experiencing racing thoughts that are extremely random and overbearing so the person will not be able to concentrate, even for a few seconds. It can be very hard for people who experience this kind of anxiety to another person.
Sometimes, this form of anxiety may also be accompanied by irritability, which is a manic symptom. In this case, the person may turn to a short-term solution like alcohol to ease the awful experience. When these attacks occur, you will have an impulse to want to end the suffering. Alcohol can help to reduce the suffering for a couple of hours but the symptoms will return with greater fury when the effect wears off. Some people just keep drinking to control the symptoms but ultimately, they fall into a spiral, which may result in successful suicide. If you are suffering from anxiety as a symptom of bipolar disorder, you should seek professional help at once.
In the case where anxiety is a separate condition from bipolar disorder, it can appear in various forms. The bipolar patient may suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, panic disorder, social phobia, generalized anxiety disorder or specific phobias. Specific phobias refer to the fear of heights, water, spider, snakes, and so on. Again, it’s best to seek professional help when you are suffering from these types of anxiety.