Archives for June, 2011


Part II of How’s That Working for You?

Part II of How's That Working for You?

Tuesday's post asked those with bipolar to weigh in on what works and what doesn't. This week, family and friends of those with bipolar get their chance to weigh in on the same question in a different context. As a friend or loved one of someone who has bipolar disorder, what has helped you deal best with the situation in terms of helping yourself and your loved one?

I'll kick off the discussion of what has and hasn't worked for me in the past.
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Alternative Treatments

How’s That Working for You?

A contributor to our Bipolar Blog recently shared her story of living with Bipolar II and how a vegan diet along with 5-HTP and exercise helps her maintain mood stability. That got me thinking that it might be interesting and helpful to hear from others about what works (and what hasn't) for them.

We're all on a bipolar journey, and everyone travels a different path. Hearing what works and what doesn't can often keep...
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When Was Your Last Bipolar Disorder Med Check?

When's the last time you saw your doctor for a med check? A month ago? Six months ago? A year or more? Getting regular med checks, which can vary from weekly to quarterly depending on the level of acuteness of your symptoms, is important for a number of reasons:

If you were placed on medications to treat acute mania or depression and you're feeling better now, your doctor may want to remove certain medications and/or decrease dosages to maintenance levels. You don't want to be taking more medication than necessary. During a major manic episode, for example, doctors often prescribe a mood stabilizer, such as lithium, along with an atypical antipsychotic, such as Zyprexa, and then gradually withdraw the atypical antipsychotic as the patient improves.
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Bipolar Disorder Conflict Management Strategies

As Joe pointed out in his post "Bipolar Disorder and Family Dynamics," bipolar disorder typically affects and is affected by everyone in a family. While no family member is to blame for having or causing the disorder, all family members can and should work together to try to avoid conflict and keep the tone of unavoidable disagreements to a dull roar. Strong emotions tend to fuel conflicts, which isn't good for anyone involved.

While every family is different, here are some basic strategies that are often helpful in reducing the level of conflict at home:

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Nutritional Factors in Bipolar Disorder Often Overlooked

Researchers at Lewisham Counselling and Counsellor Associates in Britain performed a very small study to determine what impact, if any, diet and nutrition have on a person with bipolar disorder and the implications of this on psychotherapeutic practice. They presented their findings at the BACP (British Association for Counseling & Psychotherapy) Research Conference 2011. Here's what they found:

A link does exist between diet and bipolar disorder. Omega 3, Magnesium, Vitamin B, and low sugar intake seemed helpful in minimizing the intensity and frequency of the mood swings.
A sudden increase or decrease in appetite or erratic eating pattern is common at the onset of bipolar disorder.
Bipolar treatments seldom consider diet, perhaps because of its perceived association with alternative medicine.

The authors of the study suggest that including a dietitian or nutritionist on the treatment team might be a good idea.

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Helping Loved One

What Happens to Love in a Bipolar Relationship?

Recently, Bob posted a story on our original Bipolar Blog called "Heartbroken and devastated from ending a marriage with my bipolar wife." In his story, Bob talks about all he would do for his wife only to feel unappreciated and heartbroken. I don't know Bob or his wife or their situation. Nobody really knows what goes on behind closed doors in anyone's home. However, I could sort of relate to Bob's description of how he responded and how he felt.

When you're in a loving relationship with someone who has bipolar disorder, it's common to feel frustrated and unappreciated at times. No matter how much you do to show your love, your loved one may not be in a condition to return that love or respond to it in any positive way. The more you do without receiving anything positive in return, the greater the frustration and resentment.

You might start to wonder, "What about me? How long should I have to put up with this?"
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Alternative Treatments

Posture Control in Bipolar Disorder

In a recent study entitled "Postural Control in Bipolar Disorder: Increased Sway Area and Decreased Dynamical Complexity," Indiana University researchers measured and compared the magnitude of postural sway between study participants with and without bipolar disorder. The study involved 32 participants, 16 of whom carried the bipolar diagnosis. The control group was made up of 16 age-matched non-psychiatric healthy participants. Participants were asked to stand as still as possible on a force platform for 2 minutes under 4 conditions: (1) eyes open-open base (feet apart); (2) eyes closed-open base; (3) eyes open-closed base (feet together); and (4) eyes closed-closed base.

The researchers postulated that because many of the structural, neurochemical, and functional abnormalities identified in the brains of those with bipolar disorder are also implicated in postural control, people with bipolar disorder would have less postural control and hence a greater magnitude of sway than those without a brain disorder. In other words, there's a connection between motor and mood disorders. The results supported their hypothesis:
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