Is My Spouse Bipolar?

When someone you love is bipolar, he or she will experience extreme highs and extreme lows. As a result, the behaviors of that person will vary greatly. One day a person with bipolar disorder can be incredibly full of energy, optimistic, and upbeat and the next day that person can be down and depressed

The level of emotions that a person with bipolar disorder experiences is extreme. This can be incredibly frustrating and confusing for people with bipolar disorder and the people around them. This is especially true for those that are married to people that are bipolar. Unfortunately, bipolar disorder often goes undiagnosed. If you’re the partner of someone that experiences wide mood swings and you’re asking yourself, is my spouse bipolar, we’re here to help you get an answer to your question.

To help you discover if your husband or wife is bipolar, we’re going to tell you about the different types of bipolar disorder and their symptoms. We will also discuss the variations in bipolar disorder symptoms that you should expect in men vs. women. Hopefully, with this information, you can determine if you need to seek out professional help for your partner’s condition or not. 

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that’s characterized by emotional highs and lows. The emotional highs that people with bipolar disorder experience is known as mania and hypomania. The extreme lows that people with bipolar disorder experience is depression. 

When someone you love is bipolar, he or she will likely experience extreme mood swings multiple times a year. Each time a bipolar individual experiences a manic high, it will last for anywhere from several days to several weeks while depressive bipolar episodes last at least two weeks. As a result, that person may struggle to upkeep major life responsibilities such as school or work. 

Experiencing such extreme mood swings can also cause people with bipolar disorder to struggle with maintaining healthy relationships. This is part of the reason why being married to someone with bipolar disorder is often difficult. 

While suffering from bipolar disorder is difficult, it’s not that uncommon. In fact, around 2.8 percent of American adults have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. That is equivalent to around 5 million people. With the large percentage of undiagnosed bipolar disorder in the U.S. and the world, this means that there are millions upon millions of people in the world that suffer from bipolar disorder. 

Since there is no cure for bipolar disorder and there are so many people that suffer from it, it’s imperative that the general public is aware of how to recognize and manage this mental illness. It’s also important to understand what factors can contribute to someone developing bipolar disorder. Individuals that are asking themselves, “is my spouse bipolar”, can get a better sense of the type of person that is more susceptible to such a condition. 

Causes of Bipolar Disorder

No one knows the exact causes of bipolar disorder. There is evidence that the following factors contribute to the development of this mental illness though.


One major factor that contributes to the development of bipolar disorder is a person’s genetics. This means that people who have a first-degree relative with bipolar disorder are more likely to develop this mental illness themselves. 

Physical Changes in the Brain

People who suffer from bipolar disorder tend to exhibit physical changes in their brain that cause biological differences between them and the average healthy individual. Further research needs to be done to determine the meaning and significance of these differences. 

Alcohol and Drug Abuse

Like with many mental illnesses, there is a correlation between substance abuse and bipolar disorder. One reason why this could be is that chronic substance abuse leads to changes in people’s brain chemistry. As a result, people who suffer from substance abuse can cause physical changes to develop in their brain that leads to the development of bipolar disorder. 

High Stress

High-stress situations such as the death of a loved one can cause a person that already has a genetic predisposition to bipolar disorder to develop this mental illness. 

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

When someone you love is bipolar, there are three symptoms that he or she can experience. These three symptoms of bipolar disorder include mania, hypomania, and depression. 

Mania: People who experience mania experience an emotional high that is often characterized by excitement, impulsivity, euphoria, and energy. Because of this extreme boost in energy, euphoria, impulsivity, and excitement, mania often leads to reckless behavior. Examples of such reckless behavior include going on a spending spree, abusing substances, being promiscuous.

Hypomania: Hypomania is similar to mania except not as severe. As a result, people with hypomania don’t have severe enough bipolar disorder symptoms to interfere with their work or school.

Depression: Depression is a mental illness that’s characterized by persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness. Those who suffer from depression also lack energy and interest in things that they once enjoyed. People with depression may also tend to suddenly lose or gain large amounts of weight. Depression may even lead to suicidal thoughts and attempts.

Types of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder comes in a few different key forms. These different types of bipolar disorder vary depending on the number of times that a bipolar individual experiences manic and depressive episodes. 

Bipolar I Disorder

People who suffer from bipolar I disorder experience at least one manic episode. Individuals with bipolar I disorder also experience hypomanic or major depressive episodes before and after manic episodes. 

Bipolar II Disorder

Individuals who suffer from bipolar II disorder experience at least one major depressive episode and one hypomanic episode. Bipolar II disorder men and women never experience manic episodes though. Bipolar II disorder is more common in women than in men.


Cyclothymia bipolar disorder is characterized by many short hypomania and depressive episodes. While people with cyclothymia experience many hypomania and depressive episodes, the severity of these episodes is less than the manic and depressive episodes that people with bipolar I or bipolar II disorder contain. 

People with cyclothymic bipolar disorder experience it for at least two years as an adult or one year as a child or teenager. The frequency at which people with cyclothymic bipolar disorder experience these short hypomanic and depressive episodes is so high though that these people can only go a month or two being stable.

Bipolar Disorder in Men

To answer the question is my spouse bipolar, you need to match that person’s behaviors with multiple bipolar disorder symptoms. To do this though, you must first make the distinction between how the bipolar symptoms will affect men versus how the bipolar symptoms will affect women. 

When someone you love is bipolar and a man, he is likely to experience more severe and more manic bipolar episodes. Men that suffer from bipolar disorder also tend to abuse substances more. 

Although men are less likely than women to seek out medical care on their own, they are more likely to get diagnosed with bipolar disorder earlier on in life than women are. This is due to the fact that men tend to experience less co-occurring physical and mental illnesses to their bipolar disorder. Therefore, it’s easier to tell that bipolar disorder is the reason that men are experiencing bipolar like symptoms than it is to tell if bipolar disorder is the reason that women are experiencing bipolar like symptoms. 

The fact that men tend to experience more severe manic episodes also helps make it easier to diagnose them with bipolar disorder. Unfortunately, though, such severe bipolar disorder symptoms make men with bipolar disorder more likely to commit suicide. 

Bipolar Disorder in Women

When someone you love is bipolar and a woman, she is more likely to get diagnosed later on in her life. For example, she may not get diagnosed until she is in her late twenties or thirties. Women tend to experience less severe manic episodes than men. In fact, women tend to experience more depressive episodes than they do manic episodes. 

Although the manic bipolar episodes in women are less severe, the frequency at which women experience both manic and depressive episodes is quite high. In fact, women tend to experience four or more episodes of mania and depression in a year. When someone experiences four or more manic or depressive episodes in a year, it’s called rapid cycling.

Other conditions that women tend to experience on top of bipolar disorder include anxiety, obesity, migraines, and thyroid disease. All of these co-occurring disorders and illnesses to bipolar disorder make diagnosing women with bipolar disorder harder. 

Though men tend to abuse substances at higher rates than women, women with bipolar disorder contain a higher lifetime risk of alcohol use disorder. Women are also more prone to relapsing. This is likely due to the hormonal changes that women experience throughout life. 

Bipolar Disorder and Addiction

When someone you love is bipolar, he or she is more likely to develop an addiction. This is because many people with bipolar disorder use substances to cope with their depressive lows. Instead of making bipolar symptoms better though, substance addiction only makes bipolar symptoms worse. This is because of the changes that the substances make to the human brain’s chemistry. 

As we briefly mentioned earlier, abusing substances can also trigger bipolar disorder in people who are already genetically susceptible to developing it. According to a study by the American Journal of Managed Care, 56% of people with bipolar disorder have also suffered from an alcohol or drug addiction. Of that 56%, 46% abused alcohol while 41% abused drugs. 

The people who suffer from both bipolar disorder and addiction must attend dual diagnosis treatment.

Bipolar Disorder and Addiction Treatment

A combination of medication and counseling should treat bipolar disorder. When a person suffers from a mental illness such as a bipolar disorder and addiction simultaneously, that person has a dual diagnosis, or co-occurring disorder. 

To treat a dual diagnosis disorder, you must attend addiction treatment on top of counseling. If your addiction is causing you to experience withdrawal symptoms, you’ll need to attend detox prior to addiction treatment. 

If your addiction is severe, you must attend inpatient treatment after detox. This is because inpatient treatment requires its patients to live in the treatment facility where they are attending rehab. Thus, inpatient treatment provides 24/7 monitoring and structure for all of its members. 

Sometimes, inpatient treatment is also called “residential treatment”. However, there is a slight difference between the two. Residential treatment is also good for those with a severe dual diagnosis of bipolar disorder and addiction. This type of treatment also requires its patients to live at the treatment facility where they are receiving rehab.

The main difference between residential and inpatient treatment is that residential treatment programs operate like housing communities. Thus, although they provide 24/7 monitoring and structure, they are more casual and homey than regular inpatient treatment programs. 

Outpatient treatment options for a dual diagnosis of bipolar disorder and addiction include regular outpatient treatment, intensive outpatient treatment, and partial hospitalization treatment. Outpatient treatment programs do not allow patients to live in their treatment facilities while attending rehab. Partial hospitalization is the most structured and intense outpatient treatment program, followed by intensive outpatient treatment, and then outpatient treatment.  

Coastal Detox Is Here to Help You and Your Loved Ones 

When you or someone you love is bipolar and suffers from addiction, receive help at Coastal Detox. Here at Coastal Detox, we provide dual diagnosis treatment for a wide variety of mental illness and addiction combinations, including bipolar disorder and addiction. On top of providing the best medical detox, addiction treatment, dual diagnosis, and therapy services, we also provide holistic care to all of our members. That way the whole person is treated when receiving treatment at Coastal Detox. 

To learn more about Coastal Detox, and the services that we provide, feel free to contact us anytime. Our intake department is staffed around the clock and ready to take your call. 

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