Bipolar Disorder- A Serious Mental Health Issue
Bipolar disorder is an increasingly common psychiatric diagnosis representing a very serious disease that often results in severe problems for the sufferer, including mood swings, sadness, anger, anxiety, apathy, guilt, hopelessness, loss of interest in daily activities, and even loss of touch with reality.
Characterized by depression, unreasonable euphoric states, severe mood swings, irritability, risk taking behaviors, disorganized behavior, aggression and agitation, Bipolar disorder is often a psychiatric life sentence. The highs and lows of bipolar disorder can commonly drive someone to abuse drugs or alcohol.
It’s prevalence in on the rise. In a given year, bipolar disorder affects about 5.7 million American adults, or about 2.6% of the U.S. population 18 and older, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (2008 Statistics).
Treatment of Bipolar Disorder
Treatment is usually lifelong, and often involves a combination of medications and psychotherapy. The medications used to treat Bipolar disorder are unfortunately on the toxic side, and can cause a variety of nasty side effects, including:
- Liver toxicity
- Joint problems
- Weight gain
- Problems with memory and cognition
- Severe Fatigue
- Suicide and suicide attempts
- Sexual side effects
Taking these medications (especially for life) can cause serious problems. Clearly we need some alternatives to the traditional model of treatment.
Alternatives to Traditional Bipolar Treatment
Some alternatives to traditional bipolar treatment include supplements like fish oil, S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe), and N-acetylcysteine, and herbal remedies such as Rhodiola rosea and St. John’s wort. Unfortunately for an individual suffering from serious Bipolar disorder, these interventions may not be enough.
Neurofeedback for Bipolar Disorder
Although serious studies are lacking and much needed in this department, there is a growing body of anecdotal evidence. Brain training with neurofeedback is known to be mood stabilizing and has a generally normalizing effect on the entire system. Many of the symptoms of bipolar disorder have been proven to be treatable with neurofeedback as well. Bipolar clients undergoing neurofeedback training report less susceptibility to mood swings, increased ability to focus, and reduced anger.
Treatment outcome data show that 70% – 80% of neurofeedback clients show significant improvement after twenty sessions. Considering the seriousness of this disease and it’s lifelong treatment plan, often with toxic medications, neurofeedback is certainly worth investigating.