Bipolar disorder (also known as manic depression) is a psychiatric diagnosis that describes a category of mood disorders defined by the presence of one or more episodes of abnormally elevated energy levels, cognition, and mood with or without one or more depressive episodes. It causes serious shifts in mood, energy, thinking, and behavior–from the highs of mania on one extreme, to the lows of depression on the other. Most alternative treatments for bipolar disorder are really complementary treatments, meaning they should be used in conjunction with medication, therapy, and lifestyle modification. Here are a few of the options that are showing promise.
1. Light and dark therapy
Like social rhythm therapy, light and dark therapy focuses on the sensitive biological clock in people with bipolar disorder. This easily disrupted clock throws off sleep-wake cycles, a disturbance that can trigger symptoms of mania and depression. Light and dark therapy for bipolar disorder regulates these biological rhythms—and thus reduces mood cycling— by carefully managing your exposure to light. The major component of this therapy involves creating an environment of regular darkness by restricting artificial light for ten hours every night.
2. Mindfulness meditation
Research has shown that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy and meditation help fight and prevent depression, anger, agitation, and anxiety. The mindfulness approach uses meditation, yoga, and breathing exercises to focus awareness on the present moment and break negative thinking patterns.
Acupuncture is currently being studied as a complementary treatment for bipolar disorder. Some researchers believe that it may help people with bipolar disorder by modulating their stress response. Studies on acupuncture for depression have shown a reduction in symptoms, and there is increasing evidence that acupuncture may relieve symptoms of mania also.
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