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Overcoming Bipolar Disorder Using Self-Help Methods provides tested and practical ideas in self-help that can improve symptoms and help most with bipolar disorder to achieve remission. (Currently eBook.
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The Bipolar Workbook: Tools for Controlling Your Mood Swings by Monica Ramirez Basco PhD
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The Bipolar Handbook: Real-Life Questions with Up-to-Date Answers by Wes Burgess
Up to 30-percent of the symptoms of bipolar disorder can be addressed through lifestyle changes involving diet, nutrition, exercise, quitting smoking, abstinence from alcohol, according to Las Angeles psychiatrist Dr. Wes Burgess in The Bipolar Handbook.
Living Well with Depression and Bipolar Disorder: What Your Doctor Doesn't Tell You...That You Need to Know by John Mcmanamy
Seven years ago, John McManamy was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Through his successful Web site and newsletter, he has turned his struggles into a lifelong dedication to helping others battling depression and bipolar disorder reclaim their lives. In Living Well with Depression and Bipolar Disorder, he brilliantly blends the knowledge of leading expert authorities with the experiences of his fellow patients, as well as his own, and offers extensive information on: Diagnosing the problem. Associated illnesses and symptoms. Treatments, lifestyle, and coping. The effects of depression and bipolar disorder on relationships and sex. McManamy describes his belief that depression is a wide spectrum that reaches from occasional bouts of depression to full-fledged bipolar disorder. The first book to help patients recognize this diversity of the disorder, Living Well with Depression and Bipolar Disorder will help sufferers begin to reclaim their lives.
Self Coaching by Joseph J. Luciani
"Cognitive behavioral therapy is based on the idea that our thoughts and our interpretations of events greatly influence our moods. Therapists teach clients to listen to their negative internal dialogs and to use less depressive "self-talk." Clients may also be given "homework" in the form of relaxation exercises for anxiety or gradual acclimatization to frightening situations. The emphasis is on changing thoughts and actions, not on understanding their origins. Getting Your Life Back and Self-Coaching are both based on this approach. The latter, by clinical psychologist Luciani, advises readers to identify themselves as specific personality types (e.g., "Worrywarts," "Hedgehogs," "Perfectionists") and then gives specific instructions on how to change these thought patterns. The title by Wright and Basco, a psychiatrist/educator and a clinical psychologist/researcher, respectively, examines various psychological areas (e.g., thinking, action, biology, relationships, and spirituality) and invites readers to work on these areas in any order with valuable, morale-boosting checklists and examples." -- Library Journal -- Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Conquering Anxiety and Depression Through Exercise, by Keith Johnsgard
Among natural remedies for depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder is regular exercise. Exercise is as effective as psychotropic drugs for many mental disorders and is an important aspect of bipolar disorder treatment. Keith Johnsgard is an active runner who writes this insightful book to passionately advocating exercise to promote exercise as a mental health therapy.
Johnsgard includes qualitative studies proving the importance of exercise in elevating and stabilizing mood, highlighting its effectiveness when used along with other forms of therapy.
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Healing Depression & Bipolar Disorder Without Drugs: Inspiring Stories of Restoring Mental Health Through Natural Therapies, by Gracelyn Guyol
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While no single treatment cured them, a combination of helpful supports restored their mental, emotional and physical capacities. Guyol's respectful presentation of their tenacity in the face of great obstacles is, perhaps, the main strength of this effort. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Overcoming Bipolar Disorder: A Comprehensive Workbook for Managing Your Symptoms and Achieving Your Life Goals . by Mark Bauer, Evette Ludman, Devra E. Greenwald, Amy M. Kilbourne
In Overcoming Bipolar Disorder, a prestigious team of researchers and experts on bipolar disorder presents this research-based program for helping people with bipolar disorder manage symptoms, explore triggers and coping responses, and develop a comprehensive plan for living a full life based on core values and goals.
Bipolar Disorder: Insights for Recovery, by Jane Mountain, M.D.
When faced with the challenges of bipolar disorder, Jane Mountain, M.D., chose to give up her practice, cut down on her daily activities and pursue recovery. In doing so, she became interested not only in her own recovery but in helping others who have bipolar disorder. Jane Mountain writes from the unique perspectives of a physician, a person with bipolar disorder and a family member of someone with the disorder. She writes in a personal, friendly and jargon-free manner that her readers appreciate. This book is neither a memoir nor a clinical manual. Rather, it is the distilled insight of someone working hard at recovery. Mountain shares in everyday language the insights that have helped her and others find the path of recovery.
Mountain brings hope and insight not only to the millions who have bipolar disorder, but also their families and friends. Her breakthrough perspectives on bipolar disorder are medically accurate and recovery-based.
Bipolar Disorder-Insights for Recovery, received a 1st Place in the EVVY Awards of the Colorado Independent Publisher's Association.
Living Without Depression and Manic Depression: A Workbook for Maintaining Mood Stability, by Mary Ellen Copeland
Living Without Depression and Manic Depression outlines a program that helps people achieve real breakthroughs in coping and healing. This workbook covers the following issues:
building a network of support
developing a wellness lifestyle
achieving calmness with energy
symptom prevention strategies
developing a personalized plan for mood stability
building a career that works
dealing with sleep problems
diet and vitamins
dealing with stigma
managing medication side effects
psychotherapy and counseling alternatives
learning to have fun, laughter, and pleasure
Some of Copeland's other books of note for persons with bipolar disorder or symptoms of bipolar disorder are,
The Depression Workbook: A Guide for Living with Depression and Manic Depression, Second Edition
Healing the Trauma of Abuse: A Women's Workbook
Wellness Recovery Action Plan & Peer Support: Personal, Group and Program Development
This book is a popular personal guide to developing a Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP). Adults and older teens who are working on recovery benefit from having their own copy.
This book has broad applicability and is used world-wide as a basis for recovery. It has been adapted for many uses and translated into many different languages. Learning self-help skills for dealing with physical and emotional discomfort can be simple ... but it's a much greater challenge using self-help methods during the most difficult times - when they can help the most - and incorporating them into daily life.
This book presents a system developed and used successfully by people with all kinds of physical, emotional and life issues. It has helped them use self-help skills more easily to monitor how they are feeling, decrease the severity and frequency of difficult feelings, and improve the quality of their lives.
This book helps people: 1). develop their own list of activities for everyday well-being 2). track triggering events and early warning signs 3). prepare personal responses for when they are feeling badly 4). create a plan for supports to care for them if necessary.
Included in this very accessible guide is information on developing a support system, using peer counseling, focusing, creative activities, journaling, music, diet, exercise, light, relaxation, and getting a good night's sleep. Using the Wellness Recovery Action Plan, self-management in difficult times becomes possible and practical.
Some points developed in this Action Plan book are:
developing a support system
getting a good night's sleep
Winning Against Relapse: A Workbook of Action Plans for Recurring Health and Emotional Problems
Every recovery holds the potential for relapse. And for many who have fought their way back to health from a physical disorder or emotional trauma, the return of old symptoms can be even more devastating than the original crisis. In this book, Mary Ellen Copeland presents a structured system that those in recovery can use to monitor their own symptoms and respond to them in a way that reduces or eliminates the possibility of relapse.
Readers will learn to identify events or situations that can cause their symptoms to recur, prepare an action plan to take if things start to break down, and lay out specifics about support, medications, and treatment facilities that can help.
Anyone suffering from heroin abuse should learn more about heroin addiction treatment options that can help them put an end to the damaging effects. (off-site link from AYCNP sponsor)
|Page updated: December 12, 2015
Bipolar Disorder Symptoms, Treatment, Self-Help
"Changing lifestyle and health patterns is the best thing you can do to improve [mental] health." Wes Burgess, M.D., Ph.D. The Bipolar Handbook.
This page has been reviewed and edited by a practicing mental health professional with a PsyD in psychology, associated with the AYCNP.
Understanding Bipolar Disorder
1. Typical antipsychotics
is a mood disorder characterized by highs and lows in mood and activity, racing thoughts, impetuous activities, and can also include distractibility
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) states, regarding bipolar disorder:
"Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in a person's mood, energy, and ability to function. Different from the normal ups and downs that everyone goes through, the symptoms of bipolar disorder are severe. They can result in damaged relationships, poor job or school performance, and even suicide. But there is good news: bipolar disorder can be treated, and people with this illness can lead full and productive lives.
About 5.7 million American adults or about 2.6 percent of the population age 18 and older in any given year are diagnosed as having bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder typically develops in late adolescence or early adulthood. However, some people have their first symptoms during childhood, and some develop them late in life."
The diagnosis of bipolar disorder has increased exponentially in a short period of time, from 20,000 cases in youths and children in 1993 to 800,000 in 2003. This represents about one percent of the young population. See Archives of General Psychiatry, September 2007. Off-site link
Seroquel (quetiapine) is among other prescription drugs prescribed for bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and anxiety disorders in adults and children. Seroquel (quetiapine) is an atypical antipsychotic. Photo: Raining
Childhood Bipolar Disorder
Because the diagnosis of bipolar disorder has risen exponentially, and children as young as four years old (even as young as two years old) are being prescribed strong medications, which usually are sedating, red flags are flashing to many who are aware of the situation, as there have been deaths associated with drug overdose for children who have been prescribed multiple medications. Some question whether such frequency in labeling is justified, as well as the intensity with which pharmaceutical treatments are pursued (Olfman, S. 2007).
Causes of bipolar disorder
There may be reasons why an adult, teen, or child is experiencing symptoms of bipolar disorder. If these are addressed, it can do much to alleviate said symptoms, as will be discussed further in this article.
Bipolar Disorder Types and Symptoms
Bipolar disorder was previously referred to as "manic-depression," which can describe the mood swings that can be involved in bipolar disorder. As one sufferer said before she sought help, she was "hanging from the ceiling" in her manic state.
Bipolar disorder is broken down into several categories: Bipolar I, (bipolar 1) Bipolar II (bipolar 2), cyclothymia, as well as a further categorization such as rapid cycling, when manic episodes (or periods) and periods of depression are closely spaced together. Intermittent episodes of manic states and depressive states can occur in a short period of time, even within a matter of days or the same day.
Bipolar I is diagnosed when the client experiences a major depressive episode (as in major depression) and has had one or more (less intense) hypomanic episodes (almost manic, but not fully manic). and has had one or more manic episodes.
Bipolar II is a slightly less intense, lower-grade form of bipolar disorder, and is diagnosed when a client has had a major depressive episode and has had one or more (less intense) hypomanic episodes (almost manic, but not fully manic).
Cyclothymia - During a two-year period, he or she experiences episodes resembling dysthymia, but also has had one or more periods of hypomania, characterized by elevated, expansive, or irritable moods not of psychotic proportions.
Dysthymia - Depressed mood for most of the day, most days, and at least two other depressive symptoms, but not of sufficient persistence or severity to be considered major depression. No manic or hypomanic episodes.
Major Depression - One or more major depressive episodes in absence of any manic or hypomanic episodes. Symptoms consist of a prominent and persistent depressed mood or loss of pleasure for at least two weeks, accompanied by four or more symptoms such as poor appetite, insomnia, psychomotor retardation, fatigue, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, inability to concentrate, and thoughts of death or suicide.
(Source for definitions of aforementioned mood disorders: Abnormal Psychology and Modern Life, by Carson, Duke University, Butcher, University of Minnesota, Mineka, Northwestern University; Pub: Allyn & Bacon, Boston;11th edition; 2000).
Lead singer Axl Rose of hard rock band Guns N' Roses is well known for bipolar disorder
and his unwilling compliance with medication). Photo: Long Eaton, England
Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder - Symptoms of Depression
The symptoms of ADHD can resemble those of bipolar disorder. Many have been diagnosed with concurrent disorders and treated for both, which results in the client taking multiple prescriptions. Also, because symptoms can be similar, misdiagnosis is common, as well as subjective rather than objective (based on interpretation or opinion, rather than scientific rationale.)
Bipolar disorder is one of the most misdiagnosed mental illnesses. One psychologist stated, "It can be difficult to differentiate between the various disorders [referring to ADHD and bipolar disorder in particular] because the symptoms overlap." (Samuels, J. 2006).
Some symptoms of bipolar disorder:
Though not a symptom of bipolar disorder, anger is is usually interpreted as extreme irritability, which is a symptom of mania listed in the DSM-V.
- Excessively euphoric mood
- Extreme irritability
- Rapid thinking or racing thoughts
- Inability to concentrate
- Difficulty sleeping
- Poor judgment
- Increased sex drive
- Abuse of drugs
- Aggressive behavior
- Feeling sad, empty, hopeless, guilty
- High levels of anxiety
- Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
- Decreased energy; feeling lethargic and fatigued
- Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
- Change in appetite
- Unexplained aches and pains
- Thoughts of death or suicide
Bipolar Disorder: Natural Remedies
There can be a 10-30% reduction in symptoms through [a number of simple] lifestyle and health changes (Burgess, W. 2006). Lifestyle changes are safe, completely free, and have no side effects.
Lifestyle changes that Dr. Burgess recommends are:
Improve your overall stress level
Regulate your sleep with a strict but flexible schedule (disrupted or irregular circadian rhythm is closely linked with bipolar disorder) (Leibenluft. 1996).
Give attention to eating habits, diet and nutrition
Avoid bad habits, caffeine, nicotine, drugs.
Avoid alcohol and marijuana which are destabilizing for anyone with a mental health disorder
Quit smoking. Smoking can factor in mania.
(Adapted from Wes Burgess, p.66, 70)
When these lifestyle changes are combined with other positive actions, it may be possible to further reduce symptoms by 50 to 90%. This would effectively take one out of the range of a clinical diagnosis of bipolar disorder. As outlined, this can be accomplished by many without medication.
Gary Sachs, M.D., director of the Bipolar Clinic and Research Program, Massachusetts General Hospital, states that, "The answer to the problems that bipolar disorder causes are not all medication-related. A healthy lifestyle and adopting an exercise program not only helps regulate your circadian rhythms, but can help you reach your life goals."
He continues, "It's extremely important to set out for yourself a purpose in life apart from managing your symptoms—to use lifestyle interventions to help regulate your sleep and wake cycles, your diet, and promote wellness by adopting a healthy lifestyle."
Treatment for Bipolar Disorder: Medications
The most common treatment for bipolar disorder is currently medication, usually antipsychotics. While medication is usually the most aggressive form of treatment, most responsible physicians also include at least some form of interpersonal therapy, group therapy, or cognitive-behavioral therapy in the treatment plan.
There are two types of antipsychotics typical and atypical. Anticonvulsant medications are also frequently prescribed.
Typical antipsychotics are an older type and they are heavily sedating with numerous undesirable side effects. Atypical antipsychotics were made available in the mid-1990s and have a less sedating quality with fewer strong side effects, but with serious side effects nonetheless. Such drugs are administered to both adults and children.
While it was believed that the newer atypical antipsychotics would be more effective in controlling mood swings than older drugs, recent studies indicate that older drugs may actually be more effective in controlling symptoms. For some, side effects from medication can be intense, even to the point of being "intolerable".
Some mood stabilizers used in treating bipolar disorder are: lithium, valproate, carbamazepine, or lamotrigine. The most widely known drug for bipolar disorder is lithium, which has a chemical structure that identifies it as a salt, and has been used for many years in treating said condition.
Also see: Bipolar Medication Notes
Lithium for Bipolar Disorder (Manic Depression)
Some have experienced relief of symptoms with lithium. When it was first introduced into the mainstream as treatment for manic depression, it was known as something of a "miracle drug." Lithium is the only drug prescribed for bipolar disorder that positively affects suicidal ideation for a certain subset of those who take the drug. Other drugs prescribed for bipolar disorder do not have a positive affect on suicidal ideation, and some actual increase propensity towards suicidal ideation (including antidepressants prescribed for those 24 years old or younger).
However, in time, it became apparent that while lithium did help some with symptoms associated with bipolar disorder (manic depression), for many, the relief was temporary and many needed to progress to other medications after a period of months or years, and for some, lithium treatment was not effective. There is really no way of knowing if a certain drug is or is not effective except with experimentation.
The down side of lithium is that it can cause drowsiness or a feeling of being in an unnatural mental state. Some have had trouble adjusting to taking lithium. Lithium treatment also requires regular blood tests to make sure that the amount of the drug in the blood stream does not reach a harmful level. Many other drugs for bipolar disorder do not require blood tests.
While lithium is chemically a salt, it is not considered a "natural medicine" like a vitamin or enzyme, but it is a strong mood-altering drug (e.g. certain mushrooms grow naturally in the wild, but when ingested, are strong hallucinogens). Lithium is not a hallucinogenic, but while it is in the salt family, it can have a strong sedating mind altering, emotion altering effect.
One of the other potential difficulties with lithium, besides some physical side effects, is the possibility of birth defects in pregnant women. Women who become pregnant while on lithium can have babies with birth defects. Also, thyroid problems occur in 5-30% of those who use lithium. This, in turn, can cause mania. Doctors generally address this issue by giving clients thyroid medication in addition to the mood stabilizer.
Psychiatric Drugs Address Symptoms But Do Not Cure the Disorder
Medicines address symptoms; they do not treat the illness itself. So while a person may experience some relief from the symptoms related to bipolar disorder with the use of medication, this does not mean that the disorder is in remission or that it is being cured. There is still an underlying "illness" (if one wishes to use that term) that persists below the surface.
This may be why, when many try to discontinue treatment, relapses often do occur, and sometimes more earnestly than were present with the original symptoms. One of the reasons for this is that the mind can become dependent or accustomed to the medication, and also because lifestyle and social issues that underlie the disorder may not be properly addressed because of emphasis on aggressive pharmaceutical treatment.
Medications for Bipolar Disorder
Zyprexa, an atypical antipsychotic medication for bipolar disorder. While newer antipsychotics are less sedating than typical antipsychotics, weight gain is common and some atypical antipsychotics can contribute to diabetes. Also atypical antipsychotics are less effective than older drugs in controlling symptoms. Both newer and older drugs for bipolar disorder address symptoms, but do not address the underlying condition.
2. Atypical antipsychotics
4. Lithium and other mood stabilizers
5. Antidepressants and stimulants
See also: Antidepressants and Bipolar Disorder
While it was thought that the newer atypical antipsychotics were more effective in controlling mood swings than older drugs, recent studies seem to indicate that they are not more effective, and that older drugs may actually be more helpful in controlling symptoms. Depakote has outpaced the prescription of lithium for bipolar disorder.
However, the suicide rate is thought to be 2.7 times higher with Depakote use than with lithium. Of note: the suicide rate for persons suffering with bipolar disorder is 10-30 times that of the general population (Goodwin, Fredrick K., M.D., et al., September 17, 2003).
Multiple Concurrent Prescriptions
The practice of prescribing multiple medications for mental health conditions is very much in question, though an increasingly common practice. Studies have indicated that a second and third medication is not effective in remedying mental health disorders (Sachs, G., 2007). As a result, side effects increase, as well as the potential for serious complications. Both atypical and typical antipsychotics carry with them serious side effects and risks.
Bipolar Disorder Causes: Does a "chemical imbalance" cause bipolar disorder?
Joel Nigg, Ph.D., of Michigan State University develops the thought in his book What Causes ADHD? that there is not one single cause of ADHD but that there are may be many diverse factors that contribute to ADHD symptoms. The same may be said for bipolar disorder.
Many possible contributing factors lead to or aggravate symptoms of bipolar disorder.
Genetic predisposition certainly factors in any mental health disorder, or physical disorder; however, for those who have a genetic predisposition towards any mental health disorder, including bipolar disorder, there may be any number of external or environmental factors that can contribute to the development of the symptoms associated with these disorders or that can exacerbate the symptoms.
To say that bipolar disorder is a "chemical imbalance" is misleading, a psychiatric cliche, and an oversimplification of a complex problem based on the disputed medical model of mental health. There are many contributing factors. If issues underlying the symptoms can be addressed one by one, it can do much to help a person to develop an improved mental health profile and overcome the symptoms that are labelled bipolar disorder.
Joel Robertson, in his book Natural Prozac, gives a most informative and insightful discussion on depression and those experiencing some of the symptoms of bipolar disorder. It is postulated that what we take in through our senses into the mind can have an effect on our brain chemistry. What we choose to let enter into our brains through our senses (which is largely controllable) can, to a certain extent, control or influence the chemical balance of our minds.
The daily flow of water on the ground causes channels and rifts (e.g. the Grand Canyon). The daily flow of stimuli through our brains—love from our family, beautiful music, or conversely, violence or harshness—sets up mental patterns that become etched in the synapses and neurons in our brains. We eventually become “hardwired” a certain way. To a certain extent, we have freedom to choose what our "brain food" will be, which has a tremendous impact on our behavior and emotions, or our mind’s chemical balance.
The causes of bipolar disorder itself, therefore, are no doubt many and varied. Everyone is unique, and what is true for one person may not be true for another. Furthermore, bipolar disorder is the most misdiagnosed and overdiagnosed condition among all mental health disorders. The label, bipolar disorder, is subjective (observational or opinion-based) rather than scientific, so while one clinician might diagnosis bipolar disorder, another might have a different viewpoint.
However, we can fairly conclusively say that the idea that bipolar disorder is a condition that can be corrected with medications is most likely a very surface evaluation of the subject. One college textbook on abnormal psychology referred to this general idea as being a "fallacy," or "deceptive." Any serious look at the subject should take a deeper approach that considers all the factors involved for a mental health diagnosis. The medical model for mental health is inadequate in addressing bipolar disorder.
See Urie Bronfenbrenner's bioecological model of mental health.
Lifestyle Adjustments Help Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder
The ideas developed on the AYCNP webpage "16 Keys for good mental health" can help those with symptoms related to bipolar disorder. Balanced attention to spirituality can also result in improvement for some.
Bipolar Disorder Overdiagnosed reaffirms a recent study by Zimmerman, associate professor of psychiatry at Rhode Island University.
Music Can Be a Positive or May Contribute to Bipolar Symptoms
Music affects our minds—the chemical balance of our minds—and our moods. Music can be a positive force in mental health. It can help one to unwind and calm down, and can bring peace of mind. On the other hand, if music is used in a way that agitates, overwhelms, or depresses, over time, this can affect one's mental health in a way that leaves one more vulnerable to mood disorders. See here for more on bipolar disorder and music.
Long hours of listening to music, listening to extreme forms of music, or even overdoses of hard-driving rock and roll can affect mood or be destabilizing, especially for young people, many of whom do not regulate their indulgence in music. Listening to music affects the dopamine level of our brain. When we are mentally/emotionally stimulated, the dopamine level rises. Anger or rage in music might contribute to rage in the personality of some of those who indulge in it. Anger or rage can be interpreted as symptoms of bipolar disorder.
Additionally, it is easy to see how constantly raising the dopamine level in our brain through music can contribute to highs and lows in our mood. When combined with other factors, these highs and lows can become extreme, contributing to symptoms that are interpreted as, or associated with, the label bipolar disorder.Some young people listen to music eight or more hours a day. Moderation is needed, especially for young people, in the amount of and type of music they listen to.
Violence in the media
Violence in the media, whether through movies or television, including overexposure to violent sports, even overexposure to the news, or video games, may have an effect on mood for some. Media violence may be a contributing factor towards the "rage" that is often associated with a bipolar diagnosis and mood swings.
Violence in films has escalated as well. Violent movies once R-rated are now PG-13, and children as young as kindergarten are viewing extremely violent R-rated, horror, and "slasher" type movies on a regular basis, oftentimes when parents are not at home, or with older siblings. In one grade school class, over 50% of 2nd graders watched violent R-rated horror or slasher movies. In another class in the same city, 50% of 1st graders watched such movies sometimes with their parents. Violent and somewhat violent video games can also contribute to "rage" or mental confusion for some children and teens.
Many children and youths spend up to six hours daily on the media, much of it violent. It is probable that the increase in violent content in the various forms of media contribute to the corresponding increase of the diagnosis of bipolar disorder and ADHD, which can be coexisting or have related symptoms. Some children may play video games, many of them aggressive or violent, 8-14 hours in a single day. This is true of many children in special education (Samuels, J. 2008).
Pornography Addiction, Hypersexuality, and Bipolar Disorder
The correlation between hypersexuality, expressed in various forms, including indulgence in pornography and excessive masturbation, and bipolar disorder in some individuals has been clearly documented (Solovitch, S. 2009).
Promiscuity or indiscriminate sex, which might be part of manic episodes, can afterwards contribute to a depressive state. Unbalanced guilt can ensue, and consequences associated with unregulated sexual activity (i.e. contracting an STD, relationship issues) can further exacerbate depression, contributing to a vicious cycle of mania and depression.
Casual sex can contribute to emotional damage, including depression, even if there are no immediate evident serious consequences. Individuals may try to concept for perceived failings, excessive guilt, or loss of self-esteem through an unbalanced increase in goal-striving behavior, one of the symptoms of bipolar disorder (Alloy, B., et al.).
Children are being exposed to pornography from as young as eight years old, and in one special education class, three of eight ten-year-olds were already indulging in pornography (e.g. one kindergarten teacher related how a child in her class was exhibiting sexual behavior. His mother related that he watched sexually explicit films on television with his older siblings).
Long-term exposure to pornography can be destabilizing for children, and might be one other factor that leads some kids to exhibit symptoms such as irritability or rage. Children who have been sexually abused may mistakenly be diagnosed with ADHD or bipolar disorder.
Regularly indulging in pornography may affect mood and behavior. Pornography addiction is common and pornography and masturbation may contribute to depression (Frolich, P., Meston, C. 2002, November) for some, and may be a contributing factor for some in developing some of the symptoms associated with bipolar disorder.
"Children who have been sexually abused or have witnessed adult sexual behavior often exhibit hypersexual behavior similar to that demonstrated by children with bipolar disorder. A careful assessment over time is extremely important in differentiating between sexual abuse and bipolar disorder." (Fawcett, J., Golden, B. 2007. p.248).
Solutions for Bipolar Disorder
Overcoming Problems with Anger Many of the aforementioned possible contributing factors to bipolar disorder can be related to anger problems. In the instance of those who have been abused, talking things out with a sympathetic listener, minister, friend, mate, or professional can be of value in overcoming anger problems.
The need for positive emotional relationships is also something to consider. Violence in the media can contribute to anger issues for some. Substituting time spent with violent media with positive activities such as time outdoors, green time, or art, can result in gains in the psychological profile of both children, teens, and adults who struggle with anger problems. Attention to spiritual aspects of life, time for prayer and bible reading/study, are also of value. One must be careful, also, not to isolate oneself, which can lead to an unbalanced view of things and negative emotions.
Substance Abuse and Bipolar Disorder
Substance Abuse - There is a strong correlation between bipolar disorder and substance abuse, both past and present. Alcohol and drug abuse are said to be contributing factors or part of the diagnoses in 60% to 80% of cases of bipolar disorder (Burgess, W., 2006. p. 65).
Depression or ADHD Treated with Pharmaceuticals Can Lead to Bipolar Disorder
It has been suggested that depression or ADHD treated with medication sometimes leads to bipolar disorder. One of the reasons for this might be that there are often unpleasant side effects with antidepressants. These side effects can cause one's medication to be switched from one to another, and sometimes combinations are experimented with (sleeping pills added to the mix, and so on).
Intense side effects cause some to abruptly stop taking medication. Starting and stopping psychiatric drugs including (which antidepressants
are) might contribute to symptoms of bipolar disorder.
See page: Bipolar disorder treatment
complications for children and teens.
See Bipolar Disorder Self-Help for ideas in naturally restoring balance and good mental health.
Exercise Helps Depression and Bipolar Disorder
Stress can trigger bipolar disorder. Noting stressful situations that serve as triggers for depression or mania and circumventing them or addressing them in some positive manner can reduce recurrence rates of bipolar disorder (Burgess, W., 2006).
Exercise early in the morning can help keep one calm and balanced throughout the day. Similarly, a brisk walk outdoors in the evening can work better than a sleeping pill. Persons with bipolar disorder need exercise. Walking, swimming, and biking all affect a person's psyche; there is a positive direction forward and a feeling of purpose. The physical activity helps burn off the stress that can fuel both depression and manic episodes.
Chemically, exercise also has a positive effect on the mind, as it can balance out highs and lows in one's mood, and can even help lead one to full recovery.
For those with bipolar disorder, be balanced in time and intensity of workouts, ease into it and try to maintain it as a part of your daily or weekly schedule.
Improved Diet Can Be an Effective Part of a Bipolar Disorder Wellness Plan
A healthy diet can also be of value as part of a healthy lifestyle that can contribute to better mental health. One doctor who writes about bipolar disorders states that 5% to 30% of all symptoms associated with BD can be addressed through attention to diet, nutrition, exercise, and cutting out alcohol, smoking, and any other substance abuse (Burgess, W., 2006).
Avoiding alcohol and smoking is of the utmost importance for people with bipolar disorder and any other form of mental illness. For many people, drinking moderate amounts of alcohol from time to time is a harmless pleasure in life. However, over 60% of those diagnosed with BD have at one time, or are at present, abusing alcohol or drugs. (Polcin, D. L., 1992). For anyone, then, who is diagnosed with BD—or really, any other mental health disorder—abstinence from alcohol is a necessary sacrifice.
Also, avoid excesses in caffeine such as in coffee; this can help some who might be prone to overindulge.Caffeine lifts the mood and energy level, but with every lift can come a corresponding low, and this can be one contributing factor for some. For many with BD, doing without coffee can result in positive gains towards a more balanced mood. For some, coffee can be as powerful an addiction, physically and psychologically, as smoking or heroin. It can take a tremendous amount of willpower to wean oneself off of an aggressive coffee habit.
Paying attention to one's diet—avoiding too much sugar, high fat or processed foods—can contribute to a healthier body, weight loss, and a stronger mind.
Changing your lifestyle and habits takes effort. One man suffering from bipolar disorder said he would rather deal with unpleasant medications than stop viewing pornography, give up violent video games and movies, or cut down drastically on television. His friends would surely think he had lost his mind (Samuels, J. 2009). Bad habits are not easily shaken. But for those who are determined to overcome a condition as serious as bipolar disorder, it can be done, and can even be accomplished without a lifetime of heavy medications.
ART as a Natural Mood Stabilizer
For persons with bipolar disorder, OCD, ADHD and some other mental health disorders or difficulties, art is an excellent therapy. See also: Art Therapy
For many, creating artwork can be—especially those who are highly visually oriented—a natural mood stabilizer, in addition to whatever other steps one might take. Creating works of art can also be helpful in building self-esteem. To develop an interest in this visual treat, visit art museums, purchase books (or videos) that you can read or refer to around the home, or refer to online how-to videos such as on YouTube.
Creating simple works of art also helps a person get away from perfectionist thinking, especially in the beginning wherein no one's art is perfect, and in that respect, leads one away from the "all-or-nothing" way of thinking. This can also be very beneficial for children who are suffering with symptoms of BD or other serious mental health disorders.
Drawing is helpful in developing powers of concentration, and oil painting is especially soothing to the mind. Many hours can pass drawing or painting, and it can quiet the mind and soothe the soul. For anyone who has symptoms of ADHD or bipolar disorder, art is an excellent choice as a secular occupation or as a hobby. One such person, who became an art teacher, said that the only place she felt really at home was the art classroom, where she found peace as well as fulfillment working with young people and children. (Barroqueiro, Daniella).
Art can contribute to the healing of the mind. The interest you gradually develop in the arts and in developing a skill that is soothing and calming, can help take one's mind off of serious issues you might be facing or dealing with.
Do without watching television for six months to a year, and so if this results in improvement in mood or reduction in depression or mania. The news can both stimulate and depress, and those who suffer from mental illness often have sensitive emotional dispositions. Reading is a positive activity that can result in a stronger mind (Read for Emotional Relief. November 12, 2006. Healthy Person).
Keep movie-viewing hours to a minimum and substitute these hours with positive and mind-strengthening activities including reading. These might seem like drastic measures but it can result in positive gains in mental health, and is a loving sacrifice a family can make in behalf of the person suffering from a mental disorder. It will make a positive difference.
Conclusion for Bipolar Disorder Symptoms, Treatment, Self-Help
Make positive lifestyle changes that can reduce the intensity of manic episodes and the extremes of depressive periods. Realizing that there are environmental factors which can be concrete triggers for symptoms of bipolar disorder, as explained in this article, provides a foundation by which self-regulation is possible and mental health problems can be alleviated.
Additionally, by journaling and noting what precipitates manic and depressive episodes, one can determine what the most likely triggers are in each individual situation. This can contribute to greater overall stability.
It is clear that there are many avenues toward better mental health for people suffering from bipolar disorder. While treatment for some typically points to pharmaceutical medication, lifestyle changes can contribute to a lessening of the intensity of symptoms and even remission.
Changes in lifestyle are preferable to pharmaceutical psychiatric treatment as an avenue toward stability. It should be reiterated that lifestyle changes are more likely to treat the problem, as opposed to medications that merely treat the symptoms and mask the problem. Explore all avenues toward better mental health, as is done in this article, especially all who want to deal effectively with bipolar disorder.
See also: 50 non-pharmaceutical strategies to overcome bipolar disorder
References and Bibliography About Bipolar Disorder
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Able Child (off-site link) is a non-profit, parents' rights organization dedicated to protecting full-informed consent and the right to refuse psychiatric services. Able Child educates parents on risks associated with drugging children, and promotes drug-free education in schools.
Brody, Howard. (2007). Hooked: Ethics, the Medical Profession and the Pharmaceutical Industry. Bowman & Littlefield. Detailed discussion of ties between pharmaceutical companies and medical profession.
The close relationship between physicians and the pharmaceutical industry represents one of the greatest challenges to medical professionalism. Funding of medical education programs, sophisticated marketing techniques, and direct-to-consumer advertising are just a few, but important, modalities through which drug companies exert significant influence and pressure on physicians' prescribing habits.
Hooked: Ethics, the Medical Profession, and the Pharmaceutical Industry. (2008, December 10). Wollschlaeger, Bernd, MD, Reviewer. JAMA. 2008;300(22):2675-2676. doi:10.1001/jama.2008.781. http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=183017
Wooton, Tom. (2012). Why I Am Against Bipolar Meds.
The extremes both for and against meds give new meaning to the word bipolar.
Being bipolar without disorder. Bipolar Advantage. Psychology Today.