Bipolar Disorder; Symptoms, Causes and Natural Treatments
Bipolar disorder – known in the past as manic depression – is a condition that affects your moods, which can swing from one extreme to another. If you have bipolar disorder, you will have periods or “episodes” of depression, where you feel very low and lethargic, and mania, where you feel very high and overactive (less severe mania is known as hypomania.)
The symptoms of bipolar disorder depend on which mood you are experiencing. Unlike simple mood swings, each extreme episode of bipolar disorder can last for several weeks or longer, and some people may not experience a “normal” mood very often.
The depression phase of bipolar disorder is often diagnosed first. You may initially be diagnosed with clinical depression before having a manic episode later (sometimes years later), after which you may be diagnosed with bipolar disorder.During an episode of depression, you may have overwhelming feelings of worthlessness, which can potentially lead to thoughts of suicide.
If you’re feeling suicidal or having severe depressive symptoms, contact your GP, care co-ordinator or the local mental health emergency services as soon as possible.
During a manic phase of bipolar disorder, you may feel very happy and have lots of ambitious plans and ideas. You may spend large amounts of money on things that you cannot afford and would not normally want. Not feeling like eating or sleeping, talking quickly and becoming annoyed easily are also common characteristics of the manic phase of bipolar disorder.
During the manic phase, you may feel very creative and view mania as a positive experience. However, during the manic phase of bipolar disorder, you may also have symptoms of psychosis (where you see or hear things that are not there or become convinced of things that are not true).
Living with bipolar disorder
The high and low phases of bipolar disorder are often so extreme that they interfere with everyday life. However, there are several options for treating bipolar disorder that can make a difference. They aim to control the effects of an episode and help someone with bipolar disorder to live life as normally as possible.
It is thought that using a combination of treatments is the best way to control bipolar disorder. Treatment can include learning to recognise the triggers and signs of an episode of depression or mania, psychological treatment such as talking therapy to help deal with depression and to give you advice about how to improve your relationships and lifestyle advice such as doing regular exercise, planning activities that you enjoy and that give you a sense of achievement, and advice on improving your diet and getting more sleep
Help and advice for people with a long-term condition or their carers is also available from charities, support groups and associations. This includes self-help and self-management advice and dealing with the practical aspects of a long-term condition.
Bipolar disorder is characterised by extreme mood swings. The mood swings can range from extreme highs (mania) to extreme lows (depression). Episodes of mania and depression can often last for several weeks or more.
Depression : During a period of depression, your symptoms may include:
- feeling sad and hopeless
- lacking energy
- difficulty concentrating and remembering things
- loss of interest in everyday activities
- feelings of emptiness or worthlessness
- feelings of guilt and despair
- feeling pessimistic about everything
- being delusional, having hallucinations and disturbed or illogical thinking
- lack of appetite
- difficulty sleeping
- waking up early
- suicidal thoughts
Mania: The manic phase of bipolar disorder may include:
- feeling very happy, elated or overjoyed
- talking very quickly
- feeling full of energy
- feeling self-important
- feeling full of great new ideas and having important plans
- being easily distracted
- being easily irritated or agitated
- being delusional, having hallucinations and disturbed or illogical thinking
- not feeling like sleeping
- not eating
- doing things that often have disastrous consequences, such as spending large sums of money on expensive and sometimes unaffordable items
- making decisions or saying things that are out of character and that others see as being risky or harmful
- Rapid cycling
If you have bipolar disorder, you may have episodes of depression more regularly than you have episodes of mania. Or you may have mania more often than depression.
Between episodes of depression and mania, you may sometimes have periods of “normal” mood. However, some people with bipolar disorder can repeatedly swing from a high to low phase quickly without having a “normal” period in between. This is known as rapid cycling.
Bipolar disorder is a condition of extremes. A person with bipolar disorder may be unaware of being in the manic phase of the condition. After the episode is over, they may be shocked at their behaviour. However, at the time, they may think that other people are being negative or unhelpful.
Some people with bipolar disorder have more frequent and severe episodes than others. The extreme nature of the condition means that staying in a job may be difficult and relationships may become strained. There is also an increased risk of suicide.
During episodes of mania and depression, someone with bipolar disorder may experience strange sensations, such as seeing, hearing or smelling things that are not there (hallucinations). They may also believe things that seem irrational to other people (delusions). These types of symptoms are known as psychosis or a psychotic episode.
The exact cause of bipolar disorder is not fully understood. However, experts believe that a number of different factors act together and make a person more likely to develop the condition. These are thought to be a complex mix of physical, environmental and social factors.
Chemical imbalance in the brain : Bipolar disorder is widely believed to be the result of chemical imbalances in the brain. The chemicals responsible for controlling the functions of the brain are called neurotransmitters, examples of which include norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine.
If there is an imbalance in the levels of one or more neurotransmitters, it may cause the symptoms of bipolar disorder. For example, episodes of mania may occur when levels of norepinephrine are too high, and episodes of depression may be the result of norepinephrine levels becoming too low.
Genetics: Bipolar disorder is also thought to be linked to genetics. Bipolar disorder seems to run in families, and the family members of a person with the condition have an increased risk of developing it themselves. However, no single gene is responsible for bipolar disorder. Instead, it is thought that a number of genetic and environmental factors act as triggers for the condition.
Triggers: A stressful circumstance or situation often triggers the symptoms of bipolar disorder. Examples of stressful triggers include:
- physical, sexual or emotional abuse
- the breakdown of a relationship
- the death of a close family member or loved one
These types of life-altering events can cause episodes of depression throughout a person’s life.
Bipolar disorder may also be triggered by physical illness, sleep disturbances and overwhelming problems in everyday life, such as problems with money, work or relationships.
A healthy diet is a vital component of any overall program for addressing mental health disorders. If you suffer from mental health problems, be sure to get tested for food allergies.
It is essential to eat a steady and diverse daily diet of health enhancing fruits such as apples, berries, stone fruits, and vegetables, especially dark greens, salads, small daily quantities of high quality protein sources, such as wild fish, organic poultry, bison, lamb, eggs, beans, legumes, tempeh and tofu, essential fatty acids, whole grains, such as quinoa and brown rice, nuts and seeds (preferably soaked), and wholesome, rather than refined treats.
Be sure to vary the foods you eat at each meal to ensure a plentiful supply of nutrients and enzymes and to avoid the risk of developing food sensitivities, and be careful not to overeat during meals.
Drink plenty of pure, filtered water throughout the day.
If you suffer from hypoglycemia, avoid high glycemic carbohydrate foods. Eat meals that are high in a variety of vegetables, small and consistent portions of quality proteins and low in carbohydrates. In addition, eat healthy snacks such as all vegetable juices or raw vegetables with a handful of soaked nuts or seeds, or a hard boiled egg, a slice of protein such as turkey wrapped in lettuce leaves, or a fresh fruit smoothie mixed with essential fats and a quality protein powder, such as Hemp or raw organic whey protein powder. Eat something every two to three hours between meals to keep your blood sugar levels stabilized.
It is important to not add further toxicity to your system so try to adhere to the following:
- Do not consume any artificial sweeteners, such as Splenda, NutraSweet or Aspartame
- Do not consume high fructose corn syrup or mono-sodium glutamate.
- Do not drink any carbonated beverages.
- Avoid all fast food restaurants.
- Avoid all canned food.
- Eliminate conventional dairy products. The best dairy products are raw, unpasteurised and homogenised dairy from grass fed cows. If this is unavailable, then buy organic dairy.
- Avoid conventional beef. The best beef is organic grass fed beef.
The second best is organic meat; this includes beef, veal, lamb, chicken and turkey.
The following essential oils can promote calm and soothe stress:
- Clary sage
- Ylang Ylang.
The following oils are good for depression:
Use 4 drops of essential oil per 25ml of carrier oil.
To ensure positive results, always check that the essential oil is a 100% pure plant distillation and that it comes from a reputable source.
St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum), which has been shown to act as a mild anti-depressant and to be useful for cases of anxiety and mild depression, as well as for sleep problems related to mental health disorders
Walnut tea, which contains high amounts of serotonin, a natural mood elevator
The following can all promote calm and can help mitigate against the effects of stress.
- Ginkgo biloba
- Milk thistle
- Passion flower
- Siberian ginseng
- Valerian root
ARABIC HERBAL MEDICINE AND BIPOLAR DISORDER