This article is the third and final installment of the natural remedy series. As always, please consult your doctor before making any changes to your current treatment plan. Because bipolar disorder is more serious than depression or anxiety, it may be necessary for a person to remain on prescription medications. However, with the close monitoring of a doctor, a natural approach to treating bipolar disorder may be fruitful.
Psychotherapy can be extremely beneficial, and sometimes a necessity, in treating bipolar disorder. I also recommend this type of therapy for other disorders as well, such as: depression, anxiety, over-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and others. By going to a therapist, you can learn how to regain control of your life. A therapist will give you the proper tools to combat certain behaviors and thought processes, while helping you hone in on your problem solving skills.
In order for treatment to be productive and successful, it is essential that you develop a good rapport with your therapist; there must be trust and honesty. If these two elements are lacking, then there is little hope for healing. Be patient-beginning treatment can be uncomfortable and it takes time to feel at ease enough to really talk about what is going on in your life. If you are serious about treatment and invest your trust in your therapist, you will begin to see some positive changes occur.
Diet and Exercise
A healthy diet and regular exercise is the most consistent common denominator among various personality disorders. I am constantly amazed at what a balanced diet can do for a person’s mental well-being. It is so very important that people understand the link between one’s mental state and getting the proper nutrients. I really wish that everyone could just “get it.” If we all took more time to make smart choices about what goes into our bodies, then we would all be better off!
If you are at all familiar with my articles, then you should know by now where I am going with this. It is something that most of us do not want to hear, but it needs to be said…again. Here it is: we must limit our consumption of sugar and caffeine. I am not saying that we cannot have them (I have to have my coffee if no one wants to get hurt!), but we must do things in moderation. A cup of coffee will not make you bipolar; eating a candy bar will not make you bipolar. But, excessive sugar and caffeine can cause you to crash and burn, and this is not good for you.
In an article by Bethany Winkel (2010), she writes, “Paul Huljich, an organic food pioneer, claims to have successfully treated his own bipolar disorder with a 30 day routine. By using organic foods, exercise, proper sleep, and stress reduction techniques, he now is living symptom-free and drug-free, and he promotes this type of treatment for others with bipolar disorder.” That sounds like a good reason to adopt a healthier lifestyle!
Alcohol should also be avoided if you have bipolar tendencies. Alcohol is a depressant and will just cause you to sink lower than you already are. This being said, I truly believe with all my heart, that if we would just be good stewards over our bodies, then we would be amazed at the positive changes that will happen. Lastly, exercise can have an amazing effect on your body. Not only are you ensuring that your body is in tip top shape, you conditioning your brain to function at full throttle.
There are so many calming natural herbs available. Natural supplements such as St. John’s Wort, Omega-3 fatty acids, SAM-e, Folic Acid, and 5-HTP are very helpful in treating depression, anxiety, and may be useful for bipolar disorder as well. In addition to these supplements, the following have shown promise in naturally treating bipolar disorder:
• Lecithin: improves memory and brain processes.
• Choline: needed for mental alertness and for the manufacturing of cell membranes and the neurotransmitter acetylcholine (PsychCentral, 2010).
• Selenium: decreases depression and anxiety and also cleanses your body of free radicals which disrupt brain functions.
• Amino acids: 5-HTP and SAM-e are included in this group. L-phenylalanine is also an amino acid which helps stabilize your mood.
I strongly advocate natural treatment over pharmaceutical treatment, but I do realize that a natural approach is not for everyone. Indeed, there are cases that prescription medications are a must. Remember, please consult your doctor before making any changes to your current treatment.
Winkel, B. (2010). Using natural methods to treat bipolar disorder. Retrieved November 21, 2010, from http://www.treatmentsolutionsnetwork.com/blog/index.php/2010/09/08/using-natural-methods-to-treat-bipolar-disorder/