Paula called from a hotel room in the next town crying, hardly able to talk. She said she wanted to die, that life was too painful and she was hopeless. She had left her husband and 18-month-old son a couple of days earlier, spending more money than they had during the previous two days and nights, staying in hotels (but not sleeping), getting massages and eating in fancy restaurants. Now, she had crashed and was completely despondent. At 43, she acknowledged that her whole life was filled with similar episodes.
Bipolar disorder is not a disease; it is only a syndrome or collection of symptoms that include instability. People with this are “up” or “down,” but not in between. Some people have manic episodes like Paula where they feel “high” and don’t sleep, then come crashing into a deep depression that may last for days – or even years. Some never recognize a “manic” episode and are only depressed. Either the highs or the lows can be continual or episodic. It’s hard to diagnose because everyone is different.
“I miss mania!”
At 25, Corey was the life of the party. Since she was a very pretty girl with long blonde hair and attracted attention anyway, but when she was “up” she didn’t need any help with alcohol or drugs; she was uninhibited. However, there would come a time when she would be “down” and hate life, cut herself with a razor blade leaving scars on her arms. She would also have crying spells and panic attacks. In high school, she had been both anorexic and bulimic.
It took several years to help Corey come to balance. We worked with her hormones, diet, and multiple supplements, including herbs and vitamins. As she started to be more predictable, and have less depression she didn’t feel the need to “cut” anymore. Moreover, her eating disorders resolved and she no longer had crying spells.
One day, Corey came in to the office and described the previous months of the return of all her bipolar symptoms – the mania and depression, the crying and cutting – all of it had returned. I asked her what happened and she said she went off of everything because she missed the “high” side of being bipolar. The highs feel so good; she said, “I miss mania! …But the lows are so bad that I’m willing to give it up.” We went back on the program and she remains stable.
Corey had been to multiple psychiatrists over the years and had been on just about every psychiatric bipolar medication, none of which had any lasting effect. The medical treatment for bipolar disorder is tranquilizers, anti-depressants and lithium. These may help symptoms, but they do not solve the problem. The best they can do is give temporary, partial relief of bipolar symptoms. Most often, those with bipolar disorder stop their medications because the side-effects are worse than the disease.
One large problem with bipolar disorder is that when there are no manic episodes there is only depression. Doctors assume the patients are depressed and give them anti-depressants. When these bipolar medications don’t work, the doctors often give more. Not only do these not help, they too often cause people with bipolar depression to feel suicidal.
Home Remedies for Bipolar Disorder
The best treatment for bipolar disorder is
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