What is Bipolar Disorder?



Bipolar disorder is often described as manic-depression.  Its basic pattern is one of normal everyday functioning offset by periods of high energy and euphoria (mania) usually followed by low energy and at times prolonged depression, then a period of normal functioning once again.  Its frequency and duration of episodes vary with the individual and life circumstances. The symptoms of bipolar disorder can be severe and can effect family relationships, school or job performance, or in some cases can lead to suicide.  Bipolar disorder is generally a life long condition with repeated episodes  which often begin in the late teens or early twenties, less frequently in childhood.  Fortunately, bipolar disorder can be treated and people can return to normal and productive lives.   It is estimated that bipolar disorder effects at least 2 million Americans at any given time (or about 1% of the population).


The usual treatment for bipolar disorder involves the use of medications known as mood stabilizers.  These drugs most commonly include lithium or valproate (Depakote).  These medications are usually prescribed by psychiatrists who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders.  The use of medications, often combined with psychological counseling or family therapy, no doubt has saved many lives and helped a great deal to ease the pain of living with bipolar disorder.


However, not all people respond well to the standard medications for bipolar disorder.  Some have difficulty finding the right medicines, or combination of drugs, that work for them.  Sometimes the medications need to be adjusted even though they have worked for a while.  Another problem is that people sometimes choose not to take the medicine because of the numerous side effects that commonly exist.  And some may simply prefer the risk of living with the “manic highs” and the following depressed states rather than controlling their moods with medication for years on end.  The danger here is the loss of self control which may result in job loss, marital problems, or even suicide.


sunset_pi2.jpgOne of the main purposes of creating this web site is to suggest a holistic strategy for living with bipolar disorder.  This is the result of my own personal experience of living with the dis-ease for over 25 years, and in the past 17 years a gradual healing has taken place through the use of holistic practices.  This includes diet considerations such as the addition of Omega 3 fatty acids found in fish oil or in flax seeds, regular aerobic exercise, meditation and mindfulness exercises like tai chi chuan, visualization and spiritual healing.  These practices can easily be combined with conventional medical treatment or used as helpful preventive measures to provide greater balance and stability in times of stress.  


Please note I am not suggesting people who have bipolar disorder do not need to take their medications.  A medical doctor or health professional should be consulted before making any changes in their current form of treatment.  The information presented here is meant to be simply a sharing of what I have found to be helpful in my life and may also be helpful to others who struggle with the difficulties of this disorder. It is possible that over time the need for medications for some individuals can be reduced or eliminated.


Please visit my web page link to access a free MP3 version (used with permission) of a 30 minute interview with  Dr Robert Hedaya. He offers a comprehensive overview or description of bipolar disorder and offers advice regarding its diagnosis and treatment (based upon his years of experience in working with bipolar patients). There is also a discussion of how children are increasingly being treated with medication for mood disorders. I have found the ideas presented her to be very close to my own experience in living with bipolar disorder and I highly recommend the reader take the time to listen to the entire interview. Can bipolar disorder be treated without medication? Under what conditions? Please take the time to educate yourself and you will be glad that you did!.


For more information about holistic treatment suggestions, click here.  Please feel free to email me if I can be of any further assistance.


For more information about what causes bipolar disorder, please see causes.


Thank you and may God bless.