Bipolar disorder or manic depression is a type of mental illness which causes frequent mood swings. Within short intervals, one experiences extreme high and extreme low moods. This disorder affects the energy, thinking power and rational behavior. One can experience mania in one extreme and can experience depression on the other extreme. The cycles of bipolar disorder can last for days, weeks or months in certain people. Both men and women are equally affected by this mental condition. If untreated, the condition can get complicated and can even lead to suicidal behavior.
Causes of bipolar disorder
Most experts agree that bipolar disorder has no single cause. It is more likely the result of many factors acting simultaneously.
Genetics – some studies have indicated that there is a genetic contribution to bipolar disorder. Hereditary factors (blood lines) contribute to bipolar disorder and off spring are at a greater risk of exposure.
Biological traits – Experts say that patients with bipolar disorder often show physical changes in their brains. Studies are at an early stage to understand better the changes that lead to the disorder.
Brain-chemical imbalance – Neurotransmitter imbalances are causative factors in many mood disorders, including bipolar disorder.
Hormonal problems – Hormonal imbalances might trigger or cause bipolar disorder.
Environmental factors – abuse, mental stress, a “significant loss,” or some other traumatic event may contribute to bipolar disorder risk.
Symptoms of bipolar disorder
Symptoms during manic/hypomanic episodes:
A feeling of being on top of the world, exhilaration, or euphoria.
Over-self-confidence, an exaggerated sense of self-esteem.
Rapid and continuous verbal responses.
Thoughts come and go quickly (racing thoughts). Sometimes, bizarre ideas come to mind, and demand action.
In this phase, the behavior could be extremely forthcoming, sometimes aggressively so.
More likely to engage in risky behavior, including promiscuity (higher libido), substance abuse and/or alcohol, and take part in dangerous activities.
Missing work or school and/or underperforming.
Symptoms during depressive episodes:
A feeling of gloom, blackness, despair, and hopelessness.
In severe cases, the individual will actively consider ending their life, and may even act on those thoughts.
Insomnia and sleeping problems.
Severe Anxiety about trivial things.
Guilt – a feeling that everything that goes wrong or appears to be wrong is their fault.
Eating patterns – Irregular eating patterns (eat disproportionately more, others eat very less.)
Abnormal weight loss or weight gain.
Extreme tiredness, fatigue, listlessness.
Inability to feel pleasure with activities or interests that were usually enjoyed.
Low attention span.
Highly irritable : this could be triggered by noises, smells, tight clothing, and other things that would usually be tolerated or ignored.
Inability to face going to work or school; those that do typically underperform.
Treatments for bipolar disorder
The aim of treatment for bipolar disorder is to minimize the frequency of manic/depressive episodes and to reduce the severity of symptoms so that the patient can lead a relatively normal and productive life.
Once diagnosed with bipolar disorder, a person needs extensive and long-term treatment.
Medical attention is very necessary and in addition to qualified medical advice and drugs, patients interested in exploring natural treatments, can also supplement prescribed medication with some herbal remedies. Make sure to consult a qualified naturopath or medical herbalist for proper guidance and avoidance of contra effects.
Ashwagandha works as a nervine tonic to improve the symptoms of bipolar disorder. A 2013 study by the University of Pittsburgh found that sensorial an ingredient in ashwagandha can improve 3 separate cognitive functions in those suffering from bipolar disorder as it can help with auditory-verbal working memory, reaction time and social cognition.
500 mg standardized extract of Ashwagandha root and leaves daily for several weeks is highly recommended.
Being rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fish oil can help in the treatment of bipolar disorder. Its EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) content is essential for hormone production and nerve tissue health. Fish oil improves the functionality of brain and helps overcome depression.
Fish oil supplements are hence highly recommended. For proper dosage, consult your doctor. Also, you can regularly consume fatty fish such as albacore tuna, mackerel, salmon, herring and trout which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
Brahmi, also known as bacopa, is another useful herb for bipolar disorder because it works as a mild stimulant as well as sedative. It also aids enhanced memory skills and relieves mental strain.
Drink a few teaspoons of juice extracted from brahmi leaves daily for several weeks. Another option is consume brahmi ghee prepared by frying brahmi leaves in clarified butter (ghee).
Alternatively, take this herb in supplement form. For proper dosage, consult your doctor.
An invigorating head massage with brahmi oil is also an age old beneficial solution.
Magnesium works in a way similar to lithium but with fewer health risks. It works as a mood balancer and reduces the symptoms of mania.
It also promotes deep sleep patterns. In fact, magnesium deficiency often leads to insomnia and anxiety. Magnesium levels are naturally depleted during periods of stress and hard work.
Take oral magnesium supplements.
You can also include magnesium-rich foods such as spinach, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, cashews, soybeans, and black beans in your diet.
DISCLAIMER: All of the these are only general guidelines We always recommend consulting your medical practitioner depending upon the intensity of the case and taking a considered medical opinion .