Comprehensive alternative bipolar treatment
(elements that I consider to be important):
When taking any vitamin or mineral supplement, please check first with your doctor to ensure the supplements aren't going to interfere or interact adversely with your existing medications. At certain levels some minerals may cause unintended or potentially harmful side effects when combined with certain medications. Talk to your doctor first to be certain. Dietary recommendations are dependent on many factors and each person is unique in their needs. It takes a highly specialized medical doctor, psychiatrist, or nutritionist to evaluate your particular needs to achieve balance.
Genetic Testing and Epigenetics:
One of the most promising, exciting and cutting edge areas of medicine today (2015) is Epigenetics (how the environment effects gene expression). You can now easily send a saliva sample to a lab and get your entire genetic code analyzed and sent back to you. Your genetic test will reveal detailed information about vulnerabilities and predispositions that may put you at risk for illnesses and imbalances including bipolar disorder. For accurate and useful interpretation, please consult a medical doctor with a thorough understanding of genetic testing and counseling.
One of the most important recent areas of research in the genetic influences on bipolar symptoms is the MTHFR mutation. For extensive information about this and what to do about it, please visit: mthfr.net
We used to think that the genes we are born with are like a life sentence that can never be altered. We now know, from the science of Epigenetics, that this old understanding of genes is completely false. It is not our DNA, but the influence of "the field" - that is - the environment, including the food we eat, the toxins we are exposed to, the air we breath, the emotions we feel and the thoughts we think. Our genes can express traits, or not express them, depending on these outside forces.
Understanding the importance of appropriate nutrition, supplements or medicine can be extremely helpful if you have a medical doctor or specialist who can interpret your test results and give you lifestyle and dietary recommendations based on your unique code.
Beyond this, it is important to know that your own mind is a powerful factor in your gene expression too.
One of my favorite teachers, and a pioneer in the field of epigenetics is Bruce Lipton, Phd.Before trying an Alternative Bipolar Treatment, Learn About Bipolar Symptoms
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EFT/Meridian Tapping (Emotional Freedom Techniques) is the most effective method I have found for treating emotional traumas and emotionally based somatic issues. Depression, Anxiety and Stress related disorders can often be significantly alleviated through the proper use of EFT/Meridian Tapping with a trained practitioner.
Basic instructions for the EFT technique can be found right here, if you want to get started right away with EFT as personal coping tool to complement an alternative bipolar treatment. More extensive information and case studies can be found at World Center for EFT website: www.emofree.com
Prior to the arrival of psychiatric medications in the 1950's, the prevalence of Bipolar Disorder (Manic Depression) was about 1 out of 20,000 to 50,000 people. Today some estimates are that 5% or even more are Bipolar, or within the "Bipolar Spectrum." That means 5 out of 100 people! Why is this??
Bipolar disorder affects people of all races, ages and backgrounds. 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. It is often not recognized as an illness, and people may suffer for years before it is properly diagnosed and treated. Bipolar disorder is normally viewed by mainstream psychiatry as a "long-term, chronic illness" that must be carefully managed throughout a person's life, and will require a lifetime of medication dependence.
I have come to believe that recovery is possible with the use of alternative bipolar treatments, though this view is often strongly opposed by mainstream psychiatry and other mental health professionals.
In my experience, symptoms can be minimized through psychotherapy, taking responsibility for your health and giving optimal support to the body, mind and spirit. Your self-care should include proper nutrition and a healthy lifestyle, and an ongoing discipline of learning to live mindfully. An alternative bipolar treatment is not a "magic bullet" approach, but a comprehensive model of wellness on all levels.
Bipolar disorder, or manic-depressive illness, causes dramatic mood swings—from overly "high" and/or irritable to sad and hopeless, and then back again, often with periods of normal mood in between. Severe changes in energy and behavior go along with these changes in mood. The periods of highs and lows are called episodes of mania and depression, and each has distinct signs and symptoms.
Bipolar Disorder is a potentially life-threatening and often devastating illness. The intense mood states and deep depression of bipolar disorder are something that few people can relate to. This overwhelming emotional and psychic suffering often leads to relationship difficulties, loss of careers, financial ruin, drug and alcohol abuse, and suicide. The stigma, the intolerance and ignorance of others, and the shame that results, increases the suffering greatly.
But Bipolar Disorder is not a death sentence, nor does it have anything to do with weakness or character defects. In fact, many people with Bipolar Disorder are naturally creative, innovative, and dynamic individuals. An alternative bipolar treatment addresses not only the management of the illness, but the emotional and spiritual needs of the individual.
To take an initial diagnostic screening for Bipolar Disorder, try this quick and easy questionnaire and share the results with your health provider or therapist: Bipolar Test
Alternative bipolar treatment is a holistic approach, utilizing both traditional and alternative methods. Bipolar Disorder is very difficult to treat effectively. Although some people find medications to be effective in helping them to maintain a stable mood, this is not the case for many, especially over the long term. Even when treated with psychiatric medications, many people suffering from bipolar disorder often have an up hill battle just to feel a sense of stability and normalcy. Many people taking psychiatric medications experience a wide variety of unpleasant side effects. An alternative bipolar treatment should include any method that works. Does it makes sense to treat a person medically while allowing them to eat a poor, nutrient deficient diet and starving their brain of the vital ingredients for normal healthy functioning? (see the above video for a review of some compelling research on the power of micronutrients and proper diet in mental health treatment).
According to research by Jonathan Himmelhoch from the University of Pittsburgh, manic relapse is readily triggered by Lithium withdrawal, and according to UK Psychiatrist Joanna Moncrieff, bipolar patients who discontinue taking Lithium end up "worse than if they had never had any drug treatment."
Prior to the invention and widespread use of Lithium and the other psychiatric medications that followed, approximately 75% - 90% of Bipolar patients had good long-term functional outcomes (meaning they returned to work and had a full, or nearly full recovery). Today, with the commonplace use of psychiatric medications, only 33% of Bipolar patients ever "recover" or return to a functional life.
The fact is, many people in treatment for Bipolar disorder, complain that medications are unpleasant and mind-altering. I've seen people who continue to have severe depression, anxiety, rapid cycling and even require psychiatric hospitalizations while taking their medications as instructed.
Many people complain of a sort of "wet blanket" effect, a constriction of their mood and personality, lower energy, a loss of passion and creativity, and a feeling of disconnection from their feelings and from others. THIS IS NOT THE CASE FOR EVERYONE, but I have heard these complaints from my clients for years. Those who have had nothing but positive results and better quality of life from medication are very fortunate. But for those that have not found significant relief from meds, alternative and complimentary treatments may offer the best hope.
List of Common Lithium Side Effects
The question that is rarely asked, is "how does one manage the illness with the least amount of disruption to the free flow of creative energy?"
Most mainstream treatments disregard this common concern. Alternative bipolar treatment regards the preservation of creativity and authenticity as important aspects of therapy.
Many of the most dynamic and influential figures in our history were afflicted by Bipolar Disorder (and produced great works of art, music and literature, without the restrictive effects of modern drugs). The most important thing of course, is staying safe without being in a "chemical straight jacket."
Bipolar patients often struggle with numerous side effects from certain medications.
In the absence of any viable alternative bipolar treatment, treating professionals often feel helpless and unable to address these concerns. Others view this apparent "medication non-compliance" as an addiction to the manic high, and a resistance to being brought "down." While this is sometimes true, this is an insensitive and judgmental stance to take. Others who take these medications, who don't have bipolar disorder (such as those with seizure disorder), often complain about the same side effects.
Another big problem with many of the mood stabilizers is that they often cause weight gain. This is perhaps the biggest concern and most frequent complaint that I hear. Two common medications, Olanzapine (Zyprexa), an anti-manic/anti-psychotic medication can cause a great deal of weight gain, and Valproic Acid (Depakote) also can cause a lot of weight gain for some people. Many other mood stabilizers and anti-psychotic medications have similar side effects, and may cause changes in metabolism, lipid (fat) levels, and high blood sugar. I've seen quite a few people who have gained as much as 70 pounds in a matter of a few months on some of these medications.
Those who are more fortunate may have no unpleasant side effects and are able to function normally on these medications. Others, while making every effort to take their medications as their doctor has ordered, experience periodic manic or depressive episodes anyway.
An extensive review of the psychiatric research done over the past 40 years, (as documented in the ground breaking book "Anatomy of an Epidemic by Robert Whitaker), reveals that over the long-term, outcomes are far worse for those who take psychiatric medications, as compared to those who have never taken them at all.
Prior to the era of psychiatric medication treatment that started with Lithium in the 1950's, Bipolar Disorder was very rare: between 1 in 5,000 to 1 in 20,000 people had the disorder; Today, since the widespread use of psychiatric medications, 1 in 20 to 1 in 50 people are diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. [Anatomy of an Epidemic, by Robert Whitaker, 2010]
Is anyone paying attention?
Peter Breggin, MD, one of the foremost pioneers in courageously disclosing the truth about the dangers of psychiatric medications - particularly, antidepressants, testified before Congress in February 2010, to brief the Veteran's Affairs Department on the serious risks involved with antidepressant medications. His case is crystal clear, and further legitimizes the need for alternative bipolar treatment.
Dr. Peter Breggin's Testimony at Veterans Affairs Committee On "Antidepressant-Induced Suicide, Violence and Mania: Implications for the Military" can be viewed in its entirety here:
"...In six months Ben has helped me completely change my way of being in the world. I've rediscovered what it means to enjoy my life. My days are once again relatively peaceful, and I no longer live in constant fear of lapsing into another violent episode of mania or depression. There is still work to do, but I now feel confident in my ability to stay on track..."
- Bipolar Coaching Client
I've helped many people to return to a functional, happy life, and a hopeful outlook on the future. Bipolar Disorder does not have to be a life sentence!
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Ben Schwarcz, MFT
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