Depression and Anxiety - Dual Diagnosis

ADHD With Bipolar Disorder: How Common Do They Happen Alongside Each Other?

ADHD with bipolar disorder is a common dual diagnosis. Learn how these two treatable mental disorders impact each other in our blog.

ADHD with Bipolar Disorder

Table of contents

Written by

Brian MooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

Jeremy ArztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

May 26, 2024

The Forge Recovery Center

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and bipolar disorder are two mental health conditions that often coexist in individuals. While they are distinct disorders with their own specific criteria, research has shown a high comorbidity rate between the two.

By themselves, they're fairly serious conditions. When combined, they can make it difficult for individuals to manage their symptoms and maintain a stable quality of life.

In this blog post, we'll explore the relationship between ADHD and bipolar disorder, and how they can impact each other when occurring simultaneously.

What is ADHD?

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects an individual's ability to focus, control impulses, and regulate behavior. It is typically diagnosed in childhood and can persist into adulthood.

Symptoms of ADHD include:

  • Inattention: difficulty paying attention, easily distracted

  • Hyperactivity: excessive movement and restlessness

  • Impulsivity: acting without thinking, interrupting others

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder characterized by extreme shifts in mood, energy, and activity levels. These shifts can range from manic episodes (elevated mood, high energy) to depressive episodes (low mood, lethargy), with periods of stability in between.

Symptoms of bipolar disorder include:

  • Mania: elevated or irritable mood, racing thoughts, impulsive behavior

  • Depression: low mood, loss of interest in activities, changes in appetite or sleep patterns

The Coexistence of ADHD and Bipolar Disorder

Research has shown that individuals with ADHD are at a higher risk for developing bipolar disorder compared to the general population. In fact, one study found that 25% of individuals with ADHD also had symptoms of bipolar disorder.

While it is unclear what exactly causes this comorbidity, some theories suggest that the two conditions may share similar genetic and environmental factors.

How Common is ADHD With Bipolar Disorder?

Research suggests a high prevalence of co-occurring ADHD and bipolar disorder, with studies estimating that up to 20-30% of individuals with bipolar disorder also have ADHD.

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ADHD With Bipolar Disorder: What are the Challenges?

Alone, they can seriously disrupt a person’s life. But combined, they’re more serious. Here are some of the impacts of ADHD with bipolar disorder:

Overlap in Symptoms

Diagnosing ADHD with bipolar disorder presents challenges due to overlapping symptoms such as impulsivity, mood swings, and difficulty concentrating, leading to potential misdiagnosis or delayed treatment.

Comorbidity Complexity

The presence of both ADHD and bipolar disorder complicates treatment approaches, requiring a comprehensive assessment and tailored interventions to address the unique needs of each condition.

Impact on Treatment

Co-occurring ADHD and bipolar disorder may impact treatment outcomes, requiring a nuanced approach that addresses both disorders simultaneously to promote optimal recovery and well-being.

Challenges of Managing ADHD with Bipolar Disorder

There are a lot of challenges when it comes to managing ADHD with bipolar disorder. They include:

Symptom Overlap

The overlap in symptoms, such as impulsivity and mood swings, can complicate diagnosis and treatment planning, leading to challenges in accurately addressing both conditions.

Medication Management

Finding the right balance of medications to address symptoms of both ADHD and bipolar disorder without exacerbating one condition or triggering adverse reactions is a significant challenge.

Mood Instability

Mood fluctuations characteristic of bipolar disorder can intensify ADHD symptoms, such as impulsivity and distractibility, making it difficult to maintain focus and adhere to treatment plans.

Treatment Resistance

Individuals with co-occurring ADHD and bipolar disorder may experience treatment resistance, as medications targeting one condition may not effectively manage symptoms of the other, necessitating alternative approaches.

Complexity of Therapy

Providing effective therapy for individuals with both ADHD and bipolar disorder requires a nuanced understanding of how these conditions interact, as well as tailored interventions to address underlying issues and promote stability.

Risks of Substance Abuse with ADHD and Bipolar Disorder

Navigating the intersection of ADHD and bipolar disorder poses unique challenges, particularly concerning the increased risk of substance abuse. At Edge Treatment Center, we recognize the complexities of dual diagnoses and offer specialized support for individuals struggling with these co-occurring conditions.

Risks of substance abuse with ADHD and bipolar disorder include:


ADHD often manifests as impulsivity, leading individuals to engage in risky behaviors such as substance misuse without considering the consequences.

Emotional Extremes

Bipolar disorder's emotional extremes, including periods of intense euphoria and deep despair, may drive individuals to self-medicate with substances to regulate their mood or escape emotional pain.


Individuals with co-occurring ADHD and bipolar disorder may turn to drugs or alcohol as a means of self-medication to alleviate symptoms such as impulsivity, anxiety, or depression.

Escaping Emotional Turmoil

Emotional dysregulation associated with bipolar disorder can prompt individuals to seek relief from overwhelming emotions through substance use, leading to a dangerous cycle of dependence.

Higher Vulnerability

The combination of impulsivity from ADHD and emotional instability from bipolar disorder significantly increases vulnerability to substance abuse, making it crucial to address both conditions simultaneously in treatment.

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse alongside ADHD and bipolar disorder, know that you're not alone. At Edge Treatment Center, we offer comprehensive support and specialized programs to help individuals overcome these challenges and achieve lasting recovery.

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We’re here to help you find your way

Do you have more questions about ADHD with bipolar disorder? Reach out.

Treatment Strategies for ADHD with Bipolar Disorder

Navigating the complexities of managing both ADHD and bipolar disorder requires a comprehensive and integrated treatment approach. At Edge Treatment Center, we understand the challenges individuals face with these dual diagnoses and offer specialized support to help them achieve stability and recovery.

Treatment strategies for ADHD with bipolar disorder include:

Medication Management

Utilize medications that target symptoms of both ADHD and bipolar disorder, such as mood stabilizers and certain stimulants, under the supervision of a psychiatrist.

Therapeutic Interventions

Incorporate psychotherapy modalities like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) to address underlying issues and develop coping strategies for managing symptoms.

Skill Building

Implement psychoeducational programs to enhance skills such as emotion regulation, impulse control, time management, and organization, which are commonly affected by both ADHD and bipolar disorder.

Lifestyle Modifications

Encourage healthy lifestyle changes, including regular exercise, adequate sleep, balanced nutrition, and stress management techniques, to support overall well-being and symptom management.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Integrate treatment for any co-occurring substance use disorders, addressing substance misuse as a component of the overall treatment plan for ADHD and bipolar disorder.

Supporting Recovery for Dual Diagnoses

Recovery from dual diagnoses of ADHD and bipolar disorder requires comprehensive support systems and personalized care. Navigating the challenges of these conditions demands tailored strategies and a supportive environment. Here are essential steps and resources to aid in the recovery journey:

Comprehensive Assessment

  • Seek professional evaluation to understand the unique interplay between ADHD and bipolar disorder symptoms.

  • Ensure thorough assessment of both mental health conditions to develop an effective treatment plan.

Medication Management:

  • Work closely with a psychiatrist to find the right balance of medications for managing symptoms of ADHD and bipolar disorder.

  • Regular monitoring and adjustments are essential to address changes in symptoms and optimize treatment effectiveness.

Therapy and Counseling

  • Engage in therapy sessions, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), to learn coping skills and manage mood fluctuations.

  • Participate in individual and group counseling to address the emotional and psychological aspects of living with dual diagnoses.

Lifestyle Modifications

  • Establish a structured daily routine to manage symptoms of ADHD and stabilize mood swings associated with bipolar disorder.

  • Prioritize healthy habits, including regular exercise, sufficient sleep, balanced nutrition, and stress-reduction techniques.

Peer Support Groups

  • Connect with others who understand the challenges of dual diagnoses by joining support groups or online communities.

  • Peer support provides validation, encouragement, and shared experiences that foster a sense of belonging and reduce feelings of isolation.

Family Education and Support

  • Educate family members about ADHD and bipolar disorder to promote understanding and empathy.

  • Involve loved ones in the recovery process through family therapy sessions and communication strategies that foster a supportive environment.

Holistic Approaches

  • Explore holistic therapies, such as mindfulness, yoga, and acupuncture, to complement traditional treatments and promote overall well-being.

  • Incorporate relaxation techniques and self-care practices into daily life to reduce stress and enhance resilience.

Continuing Care and Follow-Up

  • Maintain regular communication with healthcare providers to monitor progress, address any concerns, and adjust treatment as needed.

  • Attend follow-up appointments and adhere to treatment recommendations to sustain long-term recovery and prevent relapse.

ADHD with Bipolar Disorder is Treatable. Learn More Today

In conclusion, recognizing and effectively managing the co-occurrence of ADHD with bipolar disorder is crucial for individuals in recovery. By addressing both conditions comprehensively, individuals can experience improved symptom management, enhanced quality of life, and greater resilience. Ongoing education, proactive management, and access to tailored treatment options are key in supporting overall well-being and sustained recovery.

If you or a loved one are seeking specialized care for dual diagnoses, we invite you to contact The Forge Recovery Center. Our team is dedicated to providing personalized support and guidance on your journey toward wellness. Reach out to The Forge Recovery Center today to learn more about how we can assist you in achieving your recovery goals.

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