Bipolar mania

Three times in my life I have experienced mania. All were what I believe to be induced by drugs, alcohol, dehydration, and, at one time, childbirth. Yet, I was diagnosed bipolar. My question is, now that I'm tapering off of my medications (with my psychiatrist's consent) will I rebound? If I was having true spiritual emergencies, are they likely to return? The most I can do is watch for signs and get as knowledgeable as possible. The psychosis I experienced was a mixed state of enlightenment and paranoia. I think just being more aware and knowing what to watch for will be helpful. I have the support of my family and friends. I don't want to ever go back on those medications or ever see the inside or a mental health hospital again.

Ben's Reply:

This is a very good question. According to an excellent book called "Anatomy of an Epidemic" (which I highly recommend), a statistical analyses of the history of psychiatric treatment demonstrates that the long-term outcome/recovery rate is best for people who have never taken medication, while future relapse rates are higher for those who are taking medication (or who quit taking medication). I am sure that this is also influenced by the length of time a person had been on medication, and which kinds of medication.

Since you had clearly identifiable triggers for your manic episodes, it stands to reason that if you are mindful of your stressors, and live a clean, balanced lifestyle, you will be more likely to avoid a future episode. Early detection is very important, and especially, good sleep and diet. For many people, sudden, or gradually worsening insomnia is a sign of an an impending episode, but quick action (taking care of stress/stimulation and using sleep aids) can often keep it from escalating further. I also recommend keeping a daily journal, or mood chart. Exercise is another stabilizing factor. Having a good support system and a doctor you trust is also a great asset.

Hopefully your doctor is tapering very slowly, and monitoring things closely. I have seen people go off their meds (even with doctor's consent) and experience rebound symptoms, only to then go back on meds - but in many of those cases, I suspect they would have had a better chance if they had tapered off more gradually. Be sure to communicate clearly to your doctor.

There are also alternative health practitioners who may be able to offer supportive approaches for brain health and to restore balance after going off medication.

Daily Meditation practice (in moderation) is also proven to reduce stress, improve concentration, and reduce inflamation (a major cause of illness and brain dysfunction). And I also recommend my other favorite self-help technique - EFT (Tapping) as a great way to counter stress and cope with various bumps in the road (also great for insomnia).

I wish you the best!

Ben Schwarcz

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Jul 24, 2014
Fear about becoming manic again
by: Anonymous

I can totally relate to this fear. I have had two manic episodes. The first lasted weeks. I am learning that this is a very common question. Mine too were brought on by excessive partying, adderall/amphetamines, not enough sleep, dehydration etc. I think that the most important thing is to be in tune with your body and your mind as much as possible. Of course this is difficult to do once you become "manic". All of Ben's advice was perfect. I was also diagnosed bi-polar even though I just had two manic episodes and never depressed. I got off all the meds and went three years without another episode until I again let my body get super worn out etc. I think it's important to be aware of the symptoms you experienced during these times but try not to worry too much about it. I too am currently struggling with that. I believe meditation and EFT (tapping) are going to be very helpful for me, being able to release the trauma from the experience and not live in a constant state of fear of getting manic (I haven't slept well for two nights, what if I get manic again?) it can truly be paralyzing. Try tapping and good luck to you!

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