Just as it takes a village to educate a child, the Western medical community is finding that it takes a mix of treatment approaches to deal with complex mental health problems. For example, alternative treatments are gaining medical respect as part of overall treatment plans for bipolar disorder. Sometimes called manic-depressive disorder, this illness is characterized by mood swings that range from low down depression to sky high mania. In the depressed mode, there is sense of hopelessness, sadness and lethargy. When the mood shifts, there can be euphoria with wild energy bursts. Mood swings can happen every few months or nearly daily.
Although bipolar disorder is a disruptive, long-term condition, it can be treated with medications, psychological therapies and hospitalization. More and more, lifestyle changes and alternative therapies are being suggested by medical institutions, such as the Mayo Clinic, as potentially effective additions to the overall bipolar treatment regime.
Here are some of the alternative approaches being recognized by renowned medical authorities:
- Regular exercise: Moderate, regular exercise helps stabilize moods. Working out releases endorphins that make patients feel good, help them sleep and offer many other benefits.
- Yoga: This ancient practice seems to help ease the depressive stage and reduce the frequency of mood swings.
- Massage therapy: Anxiety and stress aggravate bipolar symptoms. Massage helps to release hormones that aid the body in coping with stress and social difficulties.
- Acupuncture: This venerable Chinese practice of inserting tiny needles into the skin has achieved some notable success in relieving depression. A study published in the Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences reports that acupuncture increases the nighttime release of melatonin, a natural substance that reduces insomnia and anxiety. Getting a proper amount of rest is an important part of managing moods.
Although the Mayo Clinic and other organizations say that these approaches are benign and worth a try, they do point out that research on their effects on bipolar symptoms is lacking depth with much of the research involving depression. Still, with the life-altering symptoms of bipolar disorder and the side effects of medications, adding some exercise and yoga to a treatment plan is more than worth the consideration.
For more information visit the Mayo Clinic Web site.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times