Mood and Addictive Disorders: Causes, Treatments, and Influences
Potential causes of depressive, bipolar, and substance disorders. There are many potential causes for depressive, bipolar and addictive disorders. Most of the time, these disorders stem from underlying hormonal imbalances, heredity, some sort of neurological factor, or an environmental factor. It has been shown that 56% of individuals with bipolar disorder experience some sort of addiction and substance abuse issues (American Addictions Centers, 2018). There is a correlation between substance abuse and the depressive disorder of the individual, therefore, a cause that keeps the bipolar disorder happening is that of substance abuse. It is a vicious cycle.

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The hereditary factors include parents or grandparents who had the disorder. In fact, heredity seems to be a very common factor for those who are diagnosed with bipolar disorder: “According to the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, approximately two-thirds of individuals with bipolar disorder have one or more family member who also has a severe mood disorder” Therefore, it is a sound conclusion that heredity is a major factor in whether or not an individual is likely to be diagnosed with any sort of depressive disorder.

The possibility that environmental factors contribute to these types of disorders goes hand in hand with the idea that heredity is a major contributor. Lifestyle is also a handed down thing that can affect a person’s likelihood to develop a depressive disorder. These are factors which are all closely linked together. There are important brain chemicals in neurotransmitters that may be imbalanced—dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin, for example (Foundations Recovery Network, 2018). Neurotransmitters that are misfiring are responsible for many people’s symptoms, and this is due to a chemical imbalance (NIMH, 2016). The only consensus when it comes to bipolar disorders is that there is no singular identifiable cause for the disorder (Foundations Recovery Network, 2018).

Treatment methods for depressive, bipolar, and substance disorders. There are different treatment methods for the depressive disorders and substance abuse disorders—especially if the two are a dual diagnosis (Foundations Recovery Network, 2018). The disorder can be approached medically with some sort of medical intervention of drugs (NIMH, 2016). Or, the disorder can be treated psychologically with psychotherapy (NIMH, 2016). Some suggest that the best and most effective treatment for bipolar disorders, and substance abuse disorders, is a combination of medical and psychotherapy (NIMH, 2016). This combination is especially helpful for those who have a dual diagnosis, or what is known as a co-ocurring disorder (Foundations Recovery Network, 2018). The recovery is challenging for both the patient and the therapist—this is because bipolar individuals may experience short or long periods of intense depression or heightened and exaggerated happiness (Foundations Recovery Network, 2018). The emotionality of the individual makes it difficult for them to be able to apply therapy in their emotional moments. This is because the disorder is so intense that individuals are unable to separate what they want to achieve from their immediate feelings.

By combining both medical and psychological approaches, patients are better able to understand their symptoms, and better able to actually treat the chemical imbalances which cause these symptoms (NIMH, 2016). There is motivational interviewing therapy which is a therapy that joins the patient and therapist in defining the patient’s goals together (American Addiction Centers, 2018). Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is also a method to help people with dual diagnosis (American Addiction Centers, 2018). Solution focused therapy is similar to client-centered modality which helps set specific goals without delving down into a patient’s mental health history (American Addiction Centers, 2018). Trauma therapy is another approach to bipolar disorder, and this approach is tailored best for those who have an environmental cause to their disorder (American Addictions Centers, 2018).

Gender and cultural influences on depressive, bipolar and substance disorders. The reason that gender and cultural influences can impact the likelihood for one to develop a depressive disorder, or substance abuse issues is that the exposure to others who are bipolar can create stresses that in turn cause the individual to develop bipolarity (American Addiction Centers, 2018). Gender has not been shown to impact bipolar disorder or the likelihood to develop substance abuse issues, therefore it is not possible to claim that men or women are more likely to be bipolar (NIMH, 2016). There are special issues that culture plays on bipolar disorder, but only insomuch as the way that the family behaves—so the instances that bipolar disorder occurs are not necessarily confined to one particular culture.

In conclusion, bipolar disorder is a complex disorder that must be treated on an individual needs basis—there is no blanket treatment for individuals with these disorders because each person has a disorder which stems from a different cause. Furthermore, there is not way to predict whether one will be likely to develop bipolar disorder—even for those who have the disorder in their family history, it is unlikely that the person will become bipolar (NIMH, 2016). Bipolar treatments range from taking drugs for medical interventions in order to address the chemical imbalances and hormonal imbalances that contribute to the disorder, to treatments that do not include medications and are based on psychotherapy. For individuals with a dual diagnosis, the substance abuse issues exacerbate the bipolar issues. It is possible that the high incidence of drug use amongst bipolar individuals stems from the desire to self-medicate and treat the disorder (Foundations Recovery Network, 2018).  

  • American Addiction Centers. (2018). Treating addiction with severe bipolar disorder. American Addiction Centers. Retrieved from American Addiction Centers
  • Foundations Recovery Network. (2018). Bipolar disorder and addiction. Dual Diagnosis. Retrieved from
  • National Institute Mental Health (NIMH). (2016). Bipolar disorder. NIMH. Retrieved from