Benzodiazepines and Bipolar Disorder
Benzodiazepines are sedative medications that are primarily used to treat anxiety disorders. Due to their potentially dangerous side effects and addictive properties, many doctors hesitate to prescribe them even for on-label uses like treating panic disorder. Prescribing benzodiazepines for bipolar disorder is especially rare because they can trigger or worsen symptoms of both depression and mania.
Researchers have found that prescribing benzodiazepines for bipolar disorder not only increases the risk that a person will have another mood episode but is a predictor of a more severe course of illness overall.
Ativan and bipolar symptoms do not always mix well, but in the controlled environment of a hospital, side effects can be monitored more easily. Ativan may be administered when reducing agitation or extreme anxiety is immediately necessary.
Intravenous (IV) Ativan takes effect more quickly than other benzodiazepines but maintains its effect over a longer period compared to other fast-acting benzodiazepines. Ativan slowly and consistently releases in steady amounts until it is entirely out of someone ’s system six to eight hours later.
Is Xanax used for bipolar disorder? While it is sometimes used to treat insomnia, Xanax is not used as often as it once was to treat bipolar agitation and manic symptoms. Xanax and bipolar disorder symptoms do not generally mix well.
The paradoxical excitement that follows from Xanax’s disinhibiting effects may be why Xanax can trigger episodes of mania or hypomania. The possibility of triggering manic episodes and its abuse potential are reasons why using Xanax for bipolar disorder is extremely rare both inside and outside of the hospital.
- It takes longer to be eliminated by the body.
- Its residual effects last longer.
- It causes less severe withdrawal symptoms.
Valium and bipolar disorder are not an ideal combination. Due to the risks that come with all benzodiazepines, people with anxiety and bipolar disorder are better served by alternative treatment options that are less likely to intensify depressive symptoms or trigger mania.
As with any benzodiazepine, discontinuing Klonopin can trigger serious medical withdrawal symptoms that can even be life-threatening. People who use benzodiazepines for long periods typically require medically supervised detox.
In general, doctors and psychiatrists avoid prescribing benzodiazepines to people with bipolar disorder. When people start using benzodiazepines, bipolar symptoms that were under control can return with higher intensity than before.
- The sedative effects of benzodiazepines can worsen depressive symptoms.
- The disinhibiting effects of benzodiazepines, especially short-acting formulations like alprazolam (Xanax), can trigger the onset of manic or hypomanic episodes.
- Using benzodiazepines during a manic episode increases the risk that a person will engage in high-risk behavior with potential negative legal or medical consequences.
- Benzodiazepines are highly addictive and have severe withdrawal effects that can be medically dangerous.
If you are concerned about your benzodiazepine use, you can take a self-assessment quiz to determine whether you are addicted to Valium, Xanax, or Klonopin. You can also read an overview of benzodiazepine addiction or learn more by talking to someone at The Recovery Village.
If you or someone you know requires immediate treatment for co-occurring bipolar disorder and addiction, contact a representative from The Recovery Village today. Many rehab facilities across the United States provide integrated treatment that can help you address bipolar symptoms while helping you get treatment for addiction to benzodiazepines.
Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.
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