Bipolar Disorder affects 2.6 percent of the U.S. adult population. Treatment for Bipolar Disorder often involves lithium, a mood-stabilizing drug that has been found to be effective in managing the disorder.
However, people suffering from Bipolar Disorder are increasingly looking at more natural methods of treatment. Here are five natural remedies that can help you to manage the symptoms of Bipolar Disorder:
1. Omega-3 fatty acids. A 1999 study found that Omega-3 fatty acids — EPA (eicosapentaenoic) and DHA (docusahexaenoic) — have a stabilizing effect comparable to lithium for people suffering from Bipolar Disorder. Omega-3s are usually taken in the form of fish oil supplements, but can be found in such foods as salmon, walnuts, and soybeans. Some people use them as add-ons with their regular Bipolar Disorder medication.
Known risks are relatively few, but you should be aware of them. Fish oil supplements can contain mercury. The levels are negligible, but such supplements should be completely avoided by pregnant women.
2. Light therapy. Light therapy, which is often used for treating skin conditions, has been shown to be effective for some people with Bipolar Disorder. Light therapy involves exposing an individual’s eyes to bright light, usually emanating from a light box.
In a 2008 study that evaluated the impact of light therapy on people with Bipolar Disorder, some people recovered fully from depression. While mid-day exposure worked for some, others responded more positively to light therapy in the morning.
Though use of light boxes is basically a medical treatment, it is non-invasive. The known side effects of this therapy include eye-strain, headaches, and insomnia.
3. Regular sleep. The benefits of regular sleeping patterns can’t be exaggerated. Research has shown that maintaining a regular sleeping pattern can help bring your circadian rhythm – the body’s biological clock – back into control, helping ease the symptoms of Bipolar Disorder.
When researchers used a psychotherapy technique that combined lifestyle changes primarily related to sleeping on people with Bipolar Disorder, they found that regular sleep considerably reduced their symptoms when used in addition to lithium.
4. Ketogenic diet. Researchers believe that the ketogenic diet, which is high in fat and protein but low on carbs, could help with Bipolar Disorder. The diet is mainly used to treat epilepsy in children, but researchers believe its anticonvulsant properties may be helpful in mood disorders as well. However, there haven’t been any studies as yet to show this, so consult your physician before incorporating it into your Bipolar Disorder treatment plan.
5. Exercise. Exercise’s mood-enhancing effects are well known, and it is for this reason that it’s considered an important component of Bipolar Disorder treatment. People with severe psychiatric disorders usually demonstrate low levels of physical activity, but even short periods of exercise show a quick improvement in mood. Exercise also boosts your self-image and helps you feel better about yourself, and is good for your immune system and heart.
Though some of the natural methods of treating Bipolar Disorder have no side effects, it’s a good idea to consult your physician or therapist before trying any of them. For example, some supplements could interfere with your regular medication. You should also bear in mind that most of the natural remedies are used in addition to regular medication prescribed for Bipolar Disorder – they’re not a substitute for it.