Of the 2.6% of individuals in the United States who have bipolar disorder, 83% of those cases are severe. In such cases, patients often suffer from symptoms such as mania, psychosis, and debilitating depression.
While there is no cure for cycling bipolar disorder, medical treatments can make the condition manageable. But some people with bipolar disorder have expressed preferences for natural remedies, which claim to have fewer or less severe side effects than their pharmaceutical counterparts.
If prescribed medication is ineffective or the patient only requires temporary treatment, a professional might recommend alternative medicine or therapy. In this guide, you’ll learn the best ways to treat bipolar disorder and how to incorporate natural remedies into your recovery plan. However, keep in mind that these are merely suggestions – always talk to your doctor before considering alternative treatment for bipolar disorder.
Understanding how medical professionals diagnose bipolar disorder can help you understand how natural remedies work in conjunction with prescription medications. Here’s what you need to know:
Patients undergo a physical exam so that professionals can see how other medical conditions might be contributing to their symptoms. A physical exam might include vital sign checks, a visual exam, and other laboratory procedures and assessments such as testing motor functions.
After the physical exam, patients undergo a psychiatric assessment. This entails an initial conversation with a psychiatrist, who will examine a patient’s behavior patterns, emotional responses, and history. In some cases, professionals may request family members to provide additional health information.
Depending on how long the patient has experienced bipolar disorder symptoms, mood and anxiety disorders can be challenging to diagnose. If professionals cannot come up with a conclusive diagnosis upon meeting the patient, they might suggest mood charting. Mood charting allows psychiatrists to understand the severity of their patient’s mood swings and changing patterns.
After reviewing your mood chart, your psychiatrist will compare your symptoms against the official bipolar disorder criteria listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).
Once your psychiatrist makes a final diagnosis, they will prescribe the appropriate medication. Common bipolar disorder medications include:
Alongside a medical treatment plan, people with bipolar disorder and other mood disorders can benefit significantly from psychotherapy treatment that may include:
This type of therapy involves sending an electric current to the brain, causing a controlled seizure that alters brain chemistry. Contrary to popular belief, electroconvulsive treatments are not painful or hazardous. However, professionals only consider ECT for treating bipolar disorder when symptoms are severe, and the patient is regarded as a suicide risk.
Some mental health advocates swear by the effects of alternative treatments such as St. John’s Wort and fish oil supplements. However, not all complementary and alternative medicines (CAM therapies) are scientifically proven effective.
Before considering the following home remedies, always speak with your doctor first.
Prevalent symptoms of bipolar disorder include disrupted sleep cycles, which are either drastically shortened or prolonged. Lack of sleep can trigger a mood change and exacerbate bipolar depression.
Lifestyle adaptations such as sleeping and waking at regular hours, avoiding too much screen time, and limiting alcohol intake can improve your mood.
Some people who suffer from drastic mood swings tend to overeat, leading to obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. A nutritious and balanced diet can make a tremendous difference for a person with bipolar disorder.
Speak with a nutritionist and consider increasing your intake of omega-3 fatty acids. By introducing EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) into your diet, you might experience less aggression, more stable moods, and improved brain function. However, you must ensure that you are consuming the correct fatty acid levels, as overindulgence may lead to nausea, heartburn, and abdominal pain.
The best way to alter your lifestyle habits is to familiarize yourself with stressors and triggers. Through psychoeducation, you can recognize underlying issues that may be worsening your depression and manic episodes. This treatment is essential to identifying the type of support you need and how best to prevent a relapse.
Herbal supplements such as Rhodiola Rosea and St. John’s Wort are sometimes prescribed to minimize the effects of major depressive disorder. However, these supplements tend to receive mixed reviews.
One side effect of R. Rosea, for instance, is that it may cause insomnia. There is also no hard scientific evidence to support the efficacy of St. John’s Wort. Consider taking proven over-the-counter supplements such as omega-3 instead.
Regular exercise has been proven to reduce manic depression and improve a person’s overall quality of life. Taking daily walks or using a guided meditation app can increase the production of endorphins, which are analgesics that diminish pain signals in the brain – improving serotonin levels.
Managing bipolar disorder isn’t as simple as taking a prescription medication and waiting for it to take effect. The most effective treatments combine psychotherapy, upping your intake of healthy ingredients (such as omega-3 fatty acids), and letting go of any harmful lifestyle habit.
Before undergoing alternative treatments such as light therapy, herb replacements, and other methods people have used to treat their disorder, always consult with your doctor.
When it comes to bipolar tendencies, keep in mind that what works for one person may not work the same for other people. A mental health professional can incorporate both traditional and alternative medicines into your treatment plan to address your specific needs.
If you or someone you know is suffering from the effects of bipolar disorder or depression, reach out to our team of experts at Transformations Treatment Center. We cater to all types of people in the hopes of achieving the same goal: recovery.