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Bipolar Disorder

At Burning Tree Ranch, we understand that bipolar disorder and addiction often go hand in hand. One of the most misunderstood mental health diagnoses, bipolar disorder can be challenging and confusing to manage. When you pair substance abuse with bipolar disorder, you exacerbate harmful cycles and unpredictable mood swings. Understanding what it means to struggle with bipolar disorder and addiction can help you find the right treatment method for you.

What Does Bipolar Disorder Feel Like?

Bipolar disorder is characterized by a mood fluctuation. People with this psychological condition generally cycle through periods of distinct moods. This used to be described as manic depression, illustrating a shift between the extremes of euphoria and depression. However, people with this disorder may experience a fluctuation between happiness and irritability, motivation and disinterest or another polarized extreme.

There are three types of bipolar disorder. Even if three different individuals had the same type, they might have completely distinct experiences. A particular mood extreme can last for weeks, months or years. Some people with bipolar disorder only experience dramatic cycling once in their lifetime.


Symptoms range from mild to debilitating. When the cycle is mild or subtle, it can throw you from your routine or make you feel “off.” During an extreme swing, you may feel like a completely different person.

When you’re low, you may have the following symptoms, many of which are similar to depression:

  • Lack of interest
  • Low motivation
  • Reduced energy
  • Restlessness
  • Memory and concentration difficulties
  • Increased appetite

The highs are usually characterized by positive feelings. However, a manic phase often brings about impulsivity, which can lead to recklessness and unhealthy decisions. Some signs of mania include:

  • Racing thoughts
  • Rapid speech
  • Reduced need for sleep
  • Diminished appetite
  • Imprudent spontaneity

Sometimes, the manic phase doesn’t feel good. It can be marked by extreme anger and hostility.

Bipolar Disorder and Addiction Treatment

At Burning Tree Ranch, we understand that substance abuse is a risk factor for bipolar disorder. Addiction can contribute to chemical changes in the brain, risky behavior and mood swings.

However, feeling as though you can’t get a handle on your own mood may increase your urge to use substances. Someone with bipolar disorder may use drugs to cope with big emotions or dull intense mood swings.

To combat bipolar disorder and addiction, it’s important to treat both mental health issues concurrently. People with bipolar disorder must learn how to recognize triggers and shifts in their cycle. They need to understand their changing moods and learn how to maintain balance. Individuals who struggle with addiction must develop healthy coping skills that don’t involve drugs or alcohol.

At Burning Tree Ranch, you can eliminate your dependence on substances while you focus on yourself. You’ll learn about bipolar disorder and explore ways to manage your mood shifts. You’ll also develop lifestyle and coping skills that minimize your symptoms while maximizing your potential for a full recovery.

find recovery,
not just sobriety



LMSW, LCDC | Counselor
Kristina Robertson serves as Counselor at Burning Tree Ranch. Holding both a Bachelors and Masters Degree in Social Work, Kristina’s greatest joy is “watching our clients learn to love themselves again.” An avid equestrian, mother to twenty-one horses, and all-around animal lover, Kristina serves as a bright shining example of long-term recovery in action. Her commitment to whole person health: mental, physical, emotional and spiritual makes her an invaluable member of the Burning Tree Ranch clinical team. As a distinguished Phi Theta Kappa and Alpha Zeta member, Kristina believes deeply in each client’s pursuit of becoming their best selves.

"who is a burning tree client?"

Beth Legacki, Burning Tree Ranch Alumni