When most people think about bipolar disorder, they think of the disorder’s extreme “high” and “low” moods. What a lot of people don’t know is that sometimes, bipolar disorder can also cause hallucinations and delusions.
At Bowman Medical Group in Beverly Hills, California, our team helps patients navigate the symptoms of bipolar disorder, from balancing mood disturbances to recognizing and managing hallucinations and delusions. If you or a loved one has bipolar disorder, here’s what you should know about these lesser-known symptoms.
Formerly known as “manic-depression,” bipolar disorder features periods of ups and downs. These periods are characterized by euphoric moods, agitation, and extra energy, followed by periods of depression, low energy and, sometimes, suicidal thoughts or behaviors.
About 2.8% of American adults suffer from bipolar disorder every year. That’s about 7.2 million men and women who struggle with bipolar’s mood changes and related symptoms.
Research suggests about 42% of those women and men experience hallucinations as one of their bipolar symptoms. In people with bipolar disorder, hallucinations typically happen during the manic phase, when their mood is highly elevated.
Before delving in to the possible connection between the disorder and these symptoms, it’s important to understand the differences between hallucinations and delusions. A hallucination involves your senses, in which you see or hear something that isn’t there. A delusion involves your belief system. Specifically, you believe something is true even when evidence shows it is not.
Just as scientists don’t know why bipolar disorder happens, they also don’t know why some people with bipolar disorder have hallucinations and delusions. What they have been able to determine is that for some people, these symptoms may have specific triggers, such as:
People who have bipolar disorder may also have other health issues that could be causing hallucinations.
Identifying potential triggers isn’t always easy, but your therapist can help. You can help, too, by keeping track of when hallucinations or delusions occur, what they involve, and how you were feeling and what you were doing in the hours and even days leading up to the event. Keeping a journal or diary can be an important tool in identifying triggers and learning how to manage them.
If you experience hallucinations as part of your bipolar disorder, our team will work with you to design or adjust your treatment to help minimize or even eliminate the episodes. Your treatment might include changing your medications or your current dosing or incorporating a different type of therapy. You might benefit from lifestyle changes, too, such as learning ways to manage stress or improve your sleep.
While hallucinations can be a part of bipolar disorder, you should also know that having a hallucination doesn’t mean you have the condition. Other issues can also cause hallucinations and delusions.
Schizophrenia is another mental health condition that’s commonly associated with hallucinations. But, you can also have hallucinations due to a lifestyle habit or another medical condition, such as:
Even advanced dehydration can cause hallucinations, especially if dehydration causes the body’s sodium levels to plummet (a condition called hyponatremia).
The bottom line is regardless of the cause, hallucinations should never be ignored. If you’ve experienced a hallucination, or if you’d like to learn ways to manage your bipolar symptoms, call 310-982-7003 to book an appointment with Bowman Medical Group today.