Bipolar or Residual Effects from Past Drug Abuse?

Hi Ben,

For the past few years, I've had a very rocky and emotional relationship with my son. His moods can change in an instant - he can be happy and joking; then the next he's angry about something. Recently he lashed out at me (I'm usually the one to get the brunt of these episodes) and I was quite hurt by his words. Then a few days later he asked me not to hate him.

Depression is in my family. My son also had an addiction to crystal meth as a teenager (he's 25 now), but has since recovered from that.
I recounted this last episode to my brother who mentioned a possibility of bipolar disorder after I asked if he thought my son may be back on drugs. My brother also suggested that I try not to take my son's words to heart, and to find a way to suggest to my son that he get a diagnosis (without causing a blow-up).

What's your opinion?

Ben's Answer:

This is a very good question. Both Bipolar Disorder and Methamphetamine abuse can cause this kind of volatile mood. But with Bipolar Disorder, there are many other signs and symptoms that would have to be present in order to receive that diagnosis. Mainly, there would have to be an accompanying shift in mood that lasted for some duration - not just a sudden angry outburst. While some people with Bipolar Disorder to have "ultra-ultra-rapid cycling" (sudden, rapid mood changes), it is more likely that this is a residual long term result of his past meth abuse. But it's definitely worth getting a psychological evaluation - in either case. It's also possible that the past meth abuse triggered or worsened an underlying Bipolar vulnerability.

Whether Bipolar, Methamphetamine abuse, or both - the result has to do with a dysfunction in emotional center of the brain. Getting the right professional treatment could definitely help.

Best Wishes,

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