Bipolar disorder is complicated, challenging and confusing. The spectrum of symptoms you can attribute to the disorder are vast and cover a broader range than most other mental health issues. Bipolar encapsulates all of the symptoms of depressive disorders and expands by including mania and aspects of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). People with bipolar disorder can experience such a variety of symptoms that diagnosis can be difficult.
The problem compounds when you consider that there is a high rate of comorbidity with bipolar disorder. This means that people diagnosed with bipolar may also have other mental health, physical health and drug/alcohol disorders. ADHD, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), alcohol dependence, drug dependence and others are common in people with bipolar. Various symptoms from various diagnoses make treatment puzzling to even the most seasoned professional.
One difficult symptom associated with bipolar that is taxing on the suffer and the professional is blackouts. Although blackouts are not specifically listed in the criteria for bipolar disorder, many people report experiencing this concerning symptom. Before this issue can be discussed in depth, it’s important to have a clear understanding of what a blackout is.
For the purpose of this article, a blackout is a period of time where a person is conscious, but is unable to recall any of the events, situations or experiences afterward. A blackout is not passing out, as passing out means you are unconscious. During periods of blackouts, people engage in wild, thoughtless behaviors that they would not typically engage in otherwise.
For many, losing time, engaging in risky behaviors and having to repair the damage done to relationships creates feelings of fear, worry, depression and anger. To address the problems associated with blackouts, you must understand the mechanisms that cause them first. Because blackouts are a widespread subject, there are many connected issues.
- Impulsivity – As mentioned earlier, bipolar disorder shares similar symptoms to ADHD. ADHD and bipolar are often both diagnosed in one person. Extreme periods of impulsivity can end in a blackout period. During periods of impulsivity, someone will engage in behaviors without considering the possible repercussions of their actions. In the best-case scenario, someone will eat too much fattening food or get their nose pierced. In the worst-case, someone will commit crimes, complete violent acts or put themselves at risk.
Next page: additional causes of blackouts.