At one time, bipolar disorder was referred to as manic depression or manic depressive disorder.
It is a very serious mental illness that can result in pretty risky behavior patterns, can cause damage to careers and relationships, and can even result in suicidal tendencies if not treated.
Bipolar disorder involves extreme mood changes from depression to mania and between these extremes, an individual with bipolar disorder is likely to have normal moods.
The period of mania is characterized by the individual becoming more and more reckless, restless, energetic, powerful, and talkative.
It is also a very euphoric period. Individuals tend to be impulsive, not considering consequences when they’re in a period of mania.
Additionally, they’re likely to go on extremely lavish shopping sprees. However, at some point, this euphoric mood spirals down into a dark, irritated, confused, angry, and trapped feeling. This is depression.
The period of depression is the direct opposite of mania and involves extreme sadness, crying, feelings of worthlessness, loss of energy and pleasure and difficulty sleeping.
However, since this pattern of mania and depression are different for everyone, bipolar disorder is very complex and therefore extremely hard to diagnose.
For some individuals, the extremes can last for weeks or even months- and in some very rare cases, years. On the other hand, in some individuals, the extremes are frequent and dramatic.
Research has revealed an entire spectrum of symptoms and changes in mood in bipolar disorder. Individuals don’t always necessarily have dramatic mood swings.
In fact, many individuals with bipolar get along perfectly fine and the manic periods are often extremely productive.
However, in some cases, the mania can be much worse, involving very risky behavior, spending lots of money, and even sexual promiscuity.
They are unable to stop and consider the potential consequences of their behavior. The periods of depression can be quite dangerous, as individuals often have thoughts of suicide.
For those families of the individuals with bipolar disorder, it can be a very difficult condition to accept.
Families have a much easier time accepting a diagnosis of schizophrenia because it’s much easier to understand that as an illness.
However, with bipolar, when an individual is very productive for a period and then turns irrational and unreasonable, it can wreak havoc on the family.
Often, these families believe that it’s simply bad behavior- like the individual can, but simply won’t straighten themselves up.
Alternative Treatments for Bipolar Disorder
Most often, physicians recommend medications and therapy to treat bipolar disorder. However, many individuals are looking for alternative ways to treat their bipolar disorder- often due to the fact that the medications have some negative side effects.
Light and Dark Therapy
Light and dark therapy is often used as an alternative way to treat bipolar disorder. Individuals who have bipolar often have problems with their sleep/wake cycles, which are what tend to trigger their mood changes.
Light and dark therapy helps to treat bipolar by exposing the individual to natural light and then reducing the amount of artificial light at least 10 hours each night, which gets the body back on a proper sleep/wake cycle.
This alternative method of treatment involves inserting thin metal needles into the skin. They balance the internal systems by working on the individual’s energy flow. When used as a complementary treatment, it manipulates the stress hormones, which reduces depression symptoms.
This is a great alternative bipolar disorder for many individuals. This treatment refers to using treatments such as creative writing, drawing, pottery, painting, and sculpting.
Mental health professionals use this method to improve the well-being of individuals physically, emotionally, and mentally. This method helps to reduce stress levels, increase self-esteem, and reduce anxiety.
This method of treatment promotes relaxation and body awareness. A half-hour massage can actually help to relieve the sensory defensiveness that is often related with bipolar disorder.
Diet and Nutrition
When used in conjunction with other therapies, diet and nutrition can be a great way to combat bipolar disorder. Making sure to get proper nutrition can help to lower the symptoms of bipolar.
Consuming adequate amounts of omega-3s can help to improve mood in most individuals with bipolar. Your brain requires carbohydrates to function properly.
However, on the other hand, consuming too many refined carbohydrates can actually decrease proper brain functioning and have negative effects on your mood.
Reducing your consumption of refined sugars and making sure to include good carbohydrates such as fruits, veggies, and whole grains in your diet can help to balance your blood sugar and mood.
Antioxidants can also be very effective at treating depression related to bipolar disorder. You can get antioxidants in foods containing Vitamins C and E, as well as beta-carotene.
You can get plenty of Vitamin C through fruits and veggies such as blueberries, broccoli, grapefruit, oranges, peppers, potatoes, and strawberries.
Foods containing Vitamin E include nuts, vegetable oils, margarine, wheat germ, and seeds. Finally, to ensure you’re getting enough beta-carotene, consume foods such as apricots, spinach, cantaloupe, pumpkin, and carrots.
Folic acid, a B vitamin that is necessary for the creation of new cells in the body are thought to be linked to an improvement in mood, so it is thought to be helpful for treating bipolar disorder.
Folic acid is very safe and has no specific side effects, and has no known interactions with lithium depression treatments.
To make sure you’re getting sufficient amounts of folic acid in your diet, include foots such as asparagus, beets, Brussels sprouts, dried beans, lentils, oranges, peas, and whole-wheat products.
Additionally, you can find folic acid in many healthy breakfast cereals.
B-Vitamins, such as B-1 (thiamin), B-2, and B-6 (pyridoxine) are often recommended for treating bipolar disorder.
Vitamin B1 works to treat symptoms of anxiety, irritability, and other related conditions. B-6 also works to treat irritability and other depression symptoms. You can find B6 in foods such as bell peppers, spinach, and turnip greens.
Finally, when it comes to naturally treating bipolar disorder with diet and nutrition, Vitamin B12 is often recommended because it helps with the production of serotonin and neurotransmitters. Foods containing high amounts of B12 include fish, beef, and liver.
Inositol, which is a member of the B12 complex, helps to regulate serotonin levels and responds to mood stabilizers. Inositol can be found in cereals, nuts, legumes, seeds, and citrus fruits.