The medicines available for bipolar disorder can be amazing, but they don’t work for everybody. The most well-known one, Lithium, is basically a “you tolerate it well or you don’t tolerate it at all” type of deal. Some can work great for one person, but cause the worst side effects in another. Personally, I can’t get anywhere near Depakote — it made me so ridiculously sick for a week and none of the doctors during my many hospital trips could figure out the reason. It was only by playing with the timing of my meds and realizing the Depakote was out of my system, that we realized it was either a drug interaction or I just have a bad reaction to it. I’m not willing to find out what the answer is. There are other options out there.
But what if you can’t tolerate any of the drugs? Or you have other conditions that don’t allow you to take the drug (I was scared to death to take Lithium because everything I read said it interacted with about four or five of the medicines I was already taking), or the side effects are worse than the benefits? Also, what if you just flat out don’t want those chemicals in your body?
Yesterday, the woman who asked us a question said she did well on a holistic treatment plan, so it obviously can work. And, interestingly, I’ve been better over the past few years without medicine (because I was told I didn’t have bipolar) than when I was initially diagnosed and was diligent about my medicines. So quality of life and state of mind play a big part, obviously. As well as being more in touch with yourself — it was a lot harder in my early twenties than it is now. Knowing your feelings and actively controlling them, or at least trying to, can make a big difference. So why can’t relaxing activites such as yoga and meditation, along with herbal supplements and a healthy diet?
Many people claim these natural solutions work just as well, if not better than prescribed mood stabilizers and such. The big disadvantage is that insurance doesn’t generally cover treatments such as acupuncture and they won’t buy over-the-counter supplements, nor will they pay for yoga classes.
If you’re intent on trying this route, though, for whatever reason, there is a lot of information out there about alternative bipolar treatments and, there are a great number of options available.
- Mood Stabilizing Compounds:
- GABA (amino acid)
- Mood Related Nutrients:
- B Complex, B1, B6, B12
- Folic Acid
- Magnesium and Calcium
- L-Phenylalynine and DL-Phenylalynine
- L-Tryptophan and 5-Hydroxy-Tryptophan
- Relaxation / Stress Reduction
- Guided Imagery / Visualization
- Massage Therapy
- Healing Arts
- Oriental Medicine — acupuncture, shiatsu, and reiki are examples
- Native American Healing — the Sweat Lodge and Talking Circles
- Indian Health Care — Ayurveda and yoga
- Sound Therapy
- Movement Therapy
- Electronic Communications
These are just some of the examples of things people with bipolar disorder can try. It’s always best to go off of medicines slowly and under the strict supervision of your doctor. Even better, try some of the non-medicinal therapies while still taking your medicines and see if it improves your lifestyle and your feelings in any way.
You can research all of these further using a simple Google search. There is a lot of detail involved in all of them — I just wanted to give you an overview of what you can look for.
People who use these treatments swear by them, so if you’re having problems with your medicines, or simply want to try something healthier, I would suggest making an appointment with your doctor and discussing which alternative therapies seem best to you, and together, you two can work out a plan to try some new things out.