Bipolar disorder is very common and there are more than three million new cases diagnosed each year in the United States. Bipolar is specific type of mood spectrum disorder with several sub-categories including Bipolar 1, Bipolar 2, and Cyclothymia (or Cyclothymic disorder). Bipolar disorder, partly because of the name, is often misunderstood as a condition that implies a person regularly flips between depressive and manic states. Cyclothymia, for example, is a condition in which individuals usually never experience a manic state. Some classifications suggest this form of mood spectrum disorder is a milder form of bipolar.
Bipolar 1 is often diagnosed early in life and the symptoms that are displayed are considered more “classic.” Those with bipolar 1 typically have periods of severe depression as well as periods of mania throughout their lives. Those with bipolar 1 are more like to experience periodic extreme symptoms including acute psychosis, suicidal ideation, clinical depression, and prolonged manic states.
Bipolar 2 is a different classification of this mood spectrum disorder. Bipolar 2 is often diagnosed later in life even though individuals often show signs of the disorder beginning during adolescence. A person can receive a diagnosis of bipolar 2 if they have even a single manic episode during their lifetime. A person with bipolar 2 is more likely to experience what some refer to as “mixed states” which are a blend of manic symptoms and depressive symptoms that may vary over the course of days, weeks, or months.
How Common is Bipolar Disorder?
In the United States, approximately 2.8% of the population, which is approximately 9 million individuals, have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Diagnosis is made based on a variety of elements, including a person’s medical and family history, as well as the signs and symptoms they present. To determine the cause, medical professionals will thoroughly assess the patient and potentially perform a physical examination and laboratory tests. Additionally, they may use diagnostic tools such as the DSM-5 criteria and the MDQ.
What is Holistic Therapy?
Holistic therapy is an approach to healing that takes all elements of an individual into account. It is based upon the concept that everything about a person is connected, including their physical, mental, and spiritual health. This type of therapy does not only take into consideration a person’s symptoms, but rather their entire being.
Holistic therapy pursues more than simply providing relief from symptoms; it also aspires to assist the person to gain a better insight of themselves, their sentiments and the fundamental sources of their symptoms, as well as to foster general well-being and equilibrium.
The Benefits of Holistic Therapy in Treating Bipolar Disorder
There are many benefits of using holistic therapy in treating bipolar disorder. Those with bipolar 1 have historically found the medication Lamotrigine (Lamictal) highly effective. This is not the case with all who struggle with the disorder. That being said, over time, those develop tolerance to Lamictal and the dosage is generally considered to have a maximum. Those who max out on the dosage stop receiving the benefits of this medication.
Many who struggle with bipolar or related mood spectrum disorders do not find conventional prescription medications to be highly effective and often find the side effects to be problematic. This is why holistic therapeutic options can play an important role in mitigating the symptoms of bipolar disorder.
In general, holistic treatments make a point of keeping in mind the whole body. Practitioners of holistic methods focus on the physical symptoms as well as psychological and emotional factors in order to provide a more effective overall treatment.
Certain over-the-counter (OTC) supplements are considered helpful for treating the symptoms of bipolar disorders. These include:
- Fish oil
- Rhodiola rosea
- St. John’s Wort
It’s important to keep in mind that supplements can interact with prescription medication, alcohol, and other dietary factors. Consult a medical doctor before deciding to integrate the use of supplements into your medication routine.
Calming techniques have shown promise for easing symptoms of bipolar. These include:
Lifestyle changes can result in impressive relief for those managing bipolar symptoms. Integrating a healthy diet, regular exercise, and good sleep hygiene are important factors. Regular sleep habits are often cited as an especially important factor in the lives of those with bipolar. Breaking your sleep patterns or routine can result in manic symptoms or a full-blown manic episode for some individuals.
Symptoms of Bipolar Episodes
There are symptoms that are common for depressive episodes and different symptoms associated with manic episodes. During a mixed episode, it’s possible for an individual to experience a blend of these symptoms or a feeling of cycling back and forth from depressive to manic symptoms.
Depressive symptoms associated with bipolar can include:
- Feeling down or sad
- Low energy or fatigue
- Difficulty concentrating or focusing
- Issues falling asleep, staying asleep, sleeping longer, or waking earlier
- Talking abnormally slow
- Feeling forgetful or a sense of not being able to bring certain words to mind
- Lack of interest in hobbies or activities
- Lack of interest in socializing
- Difficulty completing habits of daily living
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Suicidal ideation
Manic symptoms associated with bipolar can include:
- Feeling high energy or “up”
- Racing thoughts
- A sense of less need for sleep
- Flight of ideas
- Changes in appetite
- Lack of control
- Excessive multi-tasking
- Sense of self-importance or delusions of grandeur
- Temptation to engage in risky behavior
The severity of symptoms varies significantly from person to person. Hypomania, a state of being high energy but still retaining a level of control, can make individuals believe that they are doing well when in fact they are suffering from symptoms of bipolar. On the other hand, it’s important not to stigmatize a person’s behavior and correlate all of their activities with their diagnosis. Many who struggle with bipolar report experiencing feelings that others mistake their symptoms for their actual personality.
Contact Us about Holistic Therapy Treatments for Bipolar Disorder
At Knoxville Recovery Center, located in Tennessee, we pride ourselves in treating each client as an individual and working with them to personalize their treatment plan. Incorporating holistic therapy into a bipolar treatment plan can help treat both the mind and the body. Our clients receive top mental health care from experts in the field. Contact us today to speak with a specialist to learn more about the benefits of holistic therapy treatments for bipolar disorder.