We get visitors who know very little about bipolar disorder and so why not educate and arm readers with some basic information?
Bipolar disorder is a mental condition that affects both mood stability and cognitive functioning. The condition is characterized by extreme variations in mood from elation and high functioning to depression and withdrawal. Those extreme variations are cyclical in nature. Some doctors have named the condition bipolar spectrum disorder(BSD) because of the continuum of characteristics.
There is a genetic predisposition to BSD, it tends to run in families. Research has uncovered certain genes that may indicate BSD tendencies in the brain but there is no physical test for it. Diagnosis is by observation of behavior and self reporting of the manic depressive cycles. Often the depressive stage of BPS is identified and treated with medication but the manic stage is downplayed and attributed to the unique personality of the patient. As a result people suffer for years as episodes or cycles can last that long. BSD takes a toll on relationships and careers, because of the irrational and extreme behaviors that ignore consequences and boundaries.
Treatment of BSD produces less than optimal results, because is difficult to diagnose correctly, some drugs have the reverse of the desired effect, and patients are not compliant in their treatment. Treatment usually involves drug therapy. Psychotherapy with a drug regime has been proven to be more effective. Although drugs such as lithium are prescribed as a mood stabilizer, often patients are prescribed more than 1 drug. All drugs have side effects, some minor, but patients have reported major side effects such as rampant tumor growth which ended when they gradually came off the drug. Yet society today has been conditioned that treatment of symptoms must produce results quickly. Want proof this is true? The majority of prescriptions of these psychiatric drugs are written by family physicians.(1)
Drugs have an advantage over other lifestyle changes that could have a longer term benefit, because they act quickly. Yet in the last 2 decades more Americans have been consulting alternative medical practitioners such as naturopathic doctors than regular MDs for their ailments. There is a growing awareness of the influence of lifestyle and environment on chronic diseases and BSD is no exception. So how can lifestyle changes affect a patient with BSD? Those who have discovered the answer would like to pass on their life experience by publishing their findings in the hope that others will regain their quality of life with less suffering.
In part two we'll continue to explore treatments.
(1) Healing Depression and Bipolar Disorder Without Drugs. G. Guyol Walker Press 2006 p 16