Many people with bipolar disorder find psychotherapy a vital part of their treatment program. As one person with bipolar disorder states it, “Psychotherapy heals, it makes some sense of the confusion, it reins in the terrifying thoughts and feelings, it brings back hope and the possibility of learning from it all.”
A short-term intervention called cognitive therapy has been helpful to some people. Cognitive therapy operates on the principle that thoughts determine moods and emotions. While this is not to say that people with bipolar disorder ought to be able to control their mood swings, the therapy has application for learning how to monitor one’s thinking as a warning of the early stages of an episode.
Forewarned, people can then consciously change the thinking they have learned to recognize as their characteristically depressive or manic thinking, get more sleep, eat better, make sure they are exercising, or take other measures that they have learned can help them avert an episode. As one man who found cognitive therapy useful says, “I monitor my thinking patterns as an index of my emotional balance — rather like checking the blood sugar level in diabetes.”
Bipolar disorder is a complex condition. No single factor is responsible for creating it, and no single therapeutic measure can reverse it. This means that you must discover what factors are involved in your case and take steps to ameliorate them.
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Action Plan to Eliminate Causes & Triggers of Bipolar Disorder
The following are steps you can take to eliminate the causes, triggers, and contributors to your bipolar disorder.
- Find ways to reduce or manage the stress in your life. Meditation and relaxation techniques can be beneficial.
- Reduce your toxic exposure wherever possible. Avoid using toxic house and garden products, eat organically grown food, and drink pure water instead of tap water.
- Reduce your heavy metal exposure by avoiding sources of copper, lead, aluminum, and mercury wherever possible. You may want to investigate having your mercury dental fillings replaced with nonmercury amalgams; hair analysis and other tests can determine if the level of mercury in your body is high.
- Avoid foods and other substances to which you are allergic, or get allergy treatment such as NAET to eliminate the problem. If you suspect you have allergies, but don’t know to what, NAET can help you identify allergens. Determine if you have a gluten intolerance.
- Address any intestinal or digestive dysfunction, such as an over growth of Candida. Taking probiotics helps improve digestion.
- Avoid food additives, particularly if your symptoms seem to worsen after ingesting additives.
- Eat a healthful, balanced diet. Avoid junk food, fast food, and processed food.
- Have your biochemical status checked to identify any nutritional deficiencies or imbalances, and take the appropriate supplements to correct them (see chapters 4 and 5).
- Deficiencies or imbalances in essential fatty acids and amino acids can contribute to neurotransmitter dysfunction. Consider whether you are a candidate for supplementation (see chapters 3–6).
- Have your doctor check for hormonal imbalances.
- Consult with your doctor about hypoglycemia. If you have this condition, there are dietary practices you can follow to correct it.
- Consider consulting a cranial osteopath to eliminate structural factors that may be contributing to your bipolar disorder. Cranial compression can interfere with nervous system function.
- Work with your doctor to determine if you have any medical conditions that produce bipolar symptoms.
- Consult your doctor about whether any medications you are taking might be contributing to your bipolar disorder. Also ask about any antidepressants you are taking or considering taking; some can produce mania.
- Limit or avoid intake of alcohol and caffeine. Avoid recreational drugs, especially stimulants such as cocaine and amphetamines.
- Get sufficient sleep. Try to avoid “all-nighters.”
- Get regular exercise.
- Make sure to spend time outdoors every day. If lack of light is a problem for you, consider using full-spectrum light bulbs in your house or getting light therapy.
- Address energy imbalances through acupuncture, homeopathy, and other forms of energy medicine.
- Explore psychospiritual issues through psychotherapy or other modalities
This excerpt was reprinted with permission of the publisher,
Hampton Roads Publishing. www.redwheelweiser.com
©2003, 2011 by Stephanie Marohn.
This article is adapted with permission from the book:
The Natural Medicine Guide to Bipolar Disorder (new revised edition)
by Stephanie Marohn.
More than three million people in the United States suffer from bipolar disorder, a mental illness that is now classified as one of the ten leading causes of disability in the US and the world. While psychiatric drugs may control bipolar disorder, they do not offer any lasting cure and carry the risk of lasting side effects. The Natural Medicine Guide to Bipolar Disorder offers an alternative: innovative, natural, non-drug based approaches that treat the underlying imbalances and restore a healthy mind.
About the Author
Stephanie Marohn is a medical journalist and non-fiction writer and the author of the Healthy Mind series for Hampton Roads. She runs an animal sanctuary in Sonoma County, CA. Visit her website at www.stephaniemarohn.com (Photo: Dorothy Walters)