Showing posts with label Bipolar Disorder. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bipolar Disorder. Show all posts

Monday 6 December 2021

Bipolar Imbalances And Hormones

Working as a nurse in the emergency room you meet a beautiful variety of people. Among those for whom I feel a special sympathy are those with bipolar. They can of course be quite the characters: some hear voices, some live on the streets, some have an extraordinary sense of humour, some love to sing and entertain, and much more. One thing bipolar patients have in common is that they take heavy medications, particularly antidepressants that have many side effects. To whatever question you ask these patients, the answer will often be, ‘Well, I have bipolar.’ As if this one sad fact is sufficient explanation for all possible questions.


But the word ‘bipolar’, of course, does not explain everything, and this is particularly true for women having problems with hormonal changes. For example, one woman had a hysterectomy because of severe bleeding, then had to go on hormone replacement therapy. After a couple of months she completely ‘lost it’. She became convinced that she had to move far, far away and take up missionary work - to the alarm of her concerned family. Bingo. She was put on antidepressants and given the convenient label of ‘bipolar.’ Well - she took her antidepressant cross-country with her and ended up living on the streets with the homeless. Rescued finally, by some good friends, she was brought back home, where she if now off most medication, trying to stay as sane as possible, and still saddled with the heavy label of ‘bipolar.’


Many women in and around menopause go haywire, but is that necessarily bipolar? I often wonder at how strongly hormones can affect mental health, as is often the case with women after childbirth, with the so-called ‘baby blues’. Often due to the hormone progesterone easy to fix with natural progesterone cream. Likewise, women - and men in their own hormonal midlife crisis - often get depressed. But should this really be any surprise? After all, so many things are changing at this point - it’s like adolescence all over again, but in reverse! New sensations and a new view of life, letting go of the old ways and struggling with the new, There can be a lot of confusion with many challenging questions demanding to be lived. Unfortunately, many take the easy road and simply dodge the whole thing. They accept being depressed and can even console themselves with the mantra, ‘After all, I’m bipolar.’


One solution might simply be to use common sense. Bipolar or not, it’s essential to take in enough essential amino acids and different forms of protein. Many people’s protein intake is limited and unvarying: just red meat, chicken and eggs. If you read Dr. Eric Braverman’s book ‘The Edge Effect’, you’ll see that we need protein from many sources, including meat, poultry, nuts, eggs, fish, dairy, beans, and vegetables.


This approach is helpful for all of us, but especially for those with bipolar - whether it’s the real thing or not. Dark chocolate can be helpful too, offering some of the same benefits as such antidepressants as Prozac and Paxil, but with no side effects. Just as healthy foods are vital for growing children, they are crucial for anybody going through big changes or having a difficult time. So be sure to eat well and exercise, and study Dr. Braverman’s ‘The Edge Effect’. Give yourself what your brain needs to function well and create harmony in your being. Don’t worry so much about your bipolar - or the bipolar label. Apply your thoughts to the constructive self-healing that is possible.


Common sense is not so common. Good luck with finding what works for you!


Warmly, Pieternel

Tuesday 30 November 2021

Bipolar Disorder

Do you know someone who is sometimes almost manic but at others seems depressed? Do their moods shift from a “high” to a “low”? If you do, then you might know someone who has what has been diagnosed as bipolar disorder. 


Bipolar disorder is a serious illness that can affect ones relationships, careers and self. People with bipolar disorder swing between manic moods like exhibiting high energy, becoming very talkative, restless or reckless and becoming depressed exhibiting sadness, crying, lack of energy and sometimes sleep problems. 


This disorder effects over 2 million people and occurs equally in men and women. Although the onset of bipolar disorder sets in during the early 20s there are often symptoms early in childhood. Some people have found a connection with BPD and ADHD.


Because BPD and ADHD symptoms are closely mirrored, BPD is hard to diagnose in young children. It is equally difficult to diagnose adolescents as this is typically a very unbalanced period in our development overall. It is difficult to discern if the adolescent is portraying normal behaviours or if the mood swings are symptoms of BPD. In adults, there are other problems that will most often occur in conjunction with BPD. About 60% of men and women also have problems with drugs or alcohol, seasonal depression and anxiety disorders. 


Doctors are not completely sure what causes bipolar disorder. There is evidence however, that it is genetic and runs in families. There is also growing evidence that lifestyle and stress are contributors to BPD. Overall, medical experts have come to the conclusion that BPD is related to the chemicals produced by the brain. When the productions levels are higher, people feel a sense of mania. When levels are lower, that is when the lows, or depressions, set in. 


There are ways to treat BPD. The most popular ways are with mood stabilizing drugs. These, combined with psychotherapy have proven to yield positive results. A few considerations need to be taken into account when taking medication. Children and young adults sometimes have heightened suicidal tendencies while on mood stabilizing drugs. Medications should be used under extreme caution or other measures of control should be put into practice for younger people diagnosed with BPD. Another thing to consider is that even though one may feel as though they have been “cured”, continuous therapy should be used. 


A medical doctor, teamed with a psychiatrist to prescribe appropriate medications and a psychologist to assess mental health should provide a qualified team to affectively monitor and prevent the illness from worsening. 


Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent BPD, especially since there is so much that needs to be learned about this illness. The best way to prevent or treat BPD is to be familiar with the symptoms. Symptoms of BPD include:


  • Excessive happiness or hopefulness 
  • Restlessness coupled with a need for less sleep 
  • Distractibility
  • Racing thoughts 
  • High sex drive 
  • Inflated self-esteem 
  • Tendency to make larger than attainable plans 
  • Tendency to make rash or poor decisions such as the decision to quit a job 
  • Sad, anxious or irritability 
  • Lack of energy 
  • Increased need for sleep 
  • Insomnia
  • Change in appetite causing weight loss or gain 
  • Thoughts of death or suicide 
  • Suicide attempt 


If you feel that you, or someone you know, may have BPD, then it is important that you note the severity of the symptoms listed above and how long they last. 


The most telling symptom of BPD however, is extreme mood swings of extreme highs and lows that do not follow a set pattern. BPD is not an illness that should be self-diagnosed however. If you suspect BPD seek medical attention as soon as possible from a psychiatrist or psychologist.

Bipolar Disorder - What Is It And What Are The Symptoms?

This article summarises from a lay persons perspective what bipolar disorder actually is. The writer, Ric, is a sufferer of the disorder and was diagnosed 8 years ago. Ric is currently writing a book on his experiences which will soon be published on a new web site.


What is Bipolar Disorder?


I'm not going to try and give a medical definition here of bipolar disorder. There are plenty of those around on the internet if you care to do a search. I am simply going to give you my opinion, based on my experience.


Bipolar disorder was formerly known as manic depression and this term for the disorder is still used in some quarters today. Bipolar disorder, as the name suggests, involves mood swings between depression and elevation plus all points in between. It does not only affect your mood however. It can affect your behaviour, your thought patterns, sleep patterns and feelings. These affects may be minor or major, but the effects of bipolar disorder in whatever its form require management and treatment. Untreated, a person who suffers from bipolar disorder can be well and truly on a path of self-destruction. Indeed, the suicide rate amongst bipolar is quite high.


Interestingly enough, bipolar disorder is referred to as a “mental illness”, yet if this is true and it is something in the mind, then how is it that it is treated with drugs? No-one has yet identified specifically what or how bipolar is caused, but the most common suggestions are that it is something to do with cells and activity in the brain. The brain is the organ we know least about, but it is a physical organ. That being the case, perhaps we should be referring to bipolar disorder as being as much a physical illness or disorder as diabetes.


Bipolar disorder is a chronic disorder. That is, once it has been diagnosed you've won the lottery. You have it for life.


The symptoms of bipolar disorder are broken up into two groups for all intents and purposes. These are depressive symptoms and manic symptoms. Manic symptoms are broken down however into a further sub-group known as “hypomanic” symptoms.




  • Feelings of nothingness, a total "void"
  • Feelings of sadness and/or anxiety
  • Wanting to cry, but unable to do so
  • Crying uncontrollably
  • Remaining in bed for days
  • Constant tiredness and fatigue
  • Complete loss of interest in things you enjoyed
  • Ignoring daily responsibilities and/or personal hygiene
  • Loss of self-esteem
  • Inability to make even simple decisions
  • Wanting to die
  • Suicide ideation
  • Restlessness, anger or irritability




  • Filled with energy, too much to burn
  • Extravagant spending, even with credit cards
  • Increased sexual activity and desires
  • Going without sleep but not getting tired
  • Feelings of extreme superiority
  • Delusions of grandeur
  • Reckless behaviour even at personal risk
  • Rapid speech
  • Racing thoughts
  • Grandiose ideas and schemes
  • Inappropriate behaviour
  • Total self-confidence, being "bullet proof"


A lower form of mania also can exist which is known as hypomania. Symptoms of hypomania can include all of the above, but to a lesser degree. A person in a hypomanic state may exhibit many of the above symptoms but only to the point where they appear to be very happy or cheerful. Consequently, it is not as visible or easy to diagnose as a full blown manic episode.


Because of the two types of mania, bipolar disorder is broken down into two groups, that of ‘Bipolar 1’ and ‘Bipolar 2’, and it is here that I will quote from the American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 4th Ed.


Bipolar 1


Characterized by the occurrence of one or more Manic Episodes or Mixed Episodes. Often individuals have also had one or more Major Depressive Episodes.


Bipolar 2


Characterized by the occurrence of one or more Major Depressive Episodes accompanied by at least one Hypomanic Episode.

Sunday 28 November 2021

7 Tips to Take Control of Bipolar Disorder

7 crucial steps to controlling and managing bipolar disorder or manic depression are discussed in this article.


Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, is a life-long illness affecting the chemistry of the brain. In classic cases, it causes severe mood swings from manic episodes of extreme highs to depressive episodes of debilitating lows, with relatively normal periods in-between. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, over 2 million people age 18 and older have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. 


Unfortunately, there is no cure for bipolar disorder at this time. But as with any chronic illness, such as diabetes, heart disease or epilepsy, proper treatment, management and understanding of the illness is crucial. Most people with bipolar disorder can lead full, productive and satisfying lives by taking crucial steps to control and manage their illness.


Some key steps to consider if you or a loved one have bipolar disorder include:


1. Find a mental health professional you trust. A person diagnosed with bipolar disorder needs to establish a relationship with a trusted mental health professional where an open and honest exchange can take place.


2. Take medication as prescribed. This is first and foremost the most important step in taking control of bipolar disorder. It is the one element that needs to be strictly adhered to. In order for medication to work effectively it must be taken consistently and for the long term. It may be tempting to stop taking medication as symptoms lessen and one starts feeling better. However, this could have devastating consequences.


3. Reduce Stress. Mental health professionals typically believe that increased stress can trigger an episode of manic depression. Finding time to relax, sharing extra responsibilities, or simply talking to someone during a stressful event may help to bring on an increased feeling of calmness.


4. Do not become isolated. Do not try to "handle" bipolar disorder alone. Seeking out the comfort and understanding of family and friends is central to a person's treatment. It can be very helpful to join a bipolar disorder support group because the people there understand the feelings and difficulties of living with the illness. They can lend insight and encouragement to a person confronting a diagnosis.     


5. Maintain a healthy lifestyle. It is important to establish regular healthy routines such as exercising the same time every day, going to bed at the same time each night and waking up at the same time each morning. Maintain a healthy diet and get plenty of sleep, because erratic sleep patterns can increase the symptoms of bipolar disorder. Do not use caffeine or recreational drugs. 


6. Become an expert on bipolar disorder. Become involved in understanding the symptoms and treatment of bipolar disorder and the effects it can have on family and friends. Consult a qualified mental health professional with questions and concerns. Read books about the illness or listen to lectures by experts. Learn as much about bipolar disorder as possible because knowledge is a powerful tool in taking out the mystery of the illness.


7. Enhance life with enjoyable things. Make it a priority to engage in things that bring about feelings of joy, happiness, and accomplishment. Hobbies or activities that enhance a sense of peace or relaxation serve one well in dealing with the confusion of bipolar disorder.


A diagnosis of bipolar disorder does not have to mean the end of one's world; rather it can be considered a new beginning. One that, at last, provides an explanation and ultimate relief from some of the unexplained and destructive behaviours a person might exhibit, freeing them to live rich and fulfilling lives.

6 Essential Facts You Should Know About Bipolar Disorder

The first step in dealing with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder is education. This article contains 6 essential facts you need to know about this serious yet treatable illness.


Mental health authorities estimate that more than 2 million adults have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder (also called manic-depression), a chemical imbalance in the brain causing extreme mood swings from manic highs to agonizing lows. Although a diagnosis of bipolar disorder can be frightening and confusing, it is a treatable and manageable condition. 


If you or someone close to you has been diagnosed with bipolar illness, the first step in relieving fear and uncertainty is education. The more you know about the disorder, the less control it will exert over you and others who may be affected.


The National Institute of Mental Health (, The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (, and The National Mental Health Association ( are just a few of the recognized national organizations providing information, facts and support to anyone who may be directly or indirectly affected by bipolar disorder. 


Below are some essential facts about bipolar disorder provided by these organizations that may alleviate some of your concerns and questions surrounding a recent diagnosis.


Bipolar disorder affects many people: According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), bipolar disorder affects approximately 2.3 million adults, or 1.2 percent of the population, in any given year.


Bipolar disorder has many potential causes: There does not appear to be one cause for bipolar disorder. Evidence suggests that many components may come into play, all of which affect the chemical balance of certain parts of the brain. Several studies on the occurrence of bipolar disorder in families demonstrate a genetic disposition toward the illness. Other factors may include extremely traumatic life events, chronic illness, alcoholism, and drug abuse. 


Bipolar disorder has varied symptoms: The most pronounced symptoms of bipolar disorder are dramatic mood swings consisting of extremely “high” manic episodes to debilitating episodes of depression and then back again with relatively normal moods in between. Behaviours during a manic episode include heightened feelings of euphoria, extreme energy, decreased need for sleep, extreme irritability and distractibility, and increased aggression. Depressive episodes bring about excessive feelings of despair, hopelessness, worthlessness, guilt, and sometimes thoughts of suicide. 


Bipolar disorder affects both sexes in children to adults: Manic depression is not selective in who it touches. Women and men are equally affected, as are children and adolescents (although a diagnosis in children and teens is more difficult to determine). A majority of those diagnosed with bipolar disorder have a least one family member with the illness. And children of parents with the illness are more likely to develop it themselves.


Bipolar disorder has effective treatment modalities: Bipolar disorder is treated with medications, called mood stabilizers, to assist in controlling fluctuation in moods. The important thing to understand about bipolar disorder is that it is a life-long, recurring illness requiring ongoing care. In addition to medication, psychotherapy is also prescribed in the management of the illness. Psychotherapy assists people to understand their illness and to develop coping skills to help deal with life events and stressors that may trigger manic and depressive episodes. 


Bipolar disorder has no cure: As of today, there is no known cure for bipolar disorder; however, it is a treatable and manageable illness. With a close relationship with a mental health professional, a proper diagnosis, and vigilant adherence to taking medications and sticking to prescribed treatment plans, most individuals with bipolar illness lead very productive and rewarding lives. 


These are just a few of the facts pertaining to bipolar disorder. It is not a simple illness, yet it is manageable and treatable. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, do not hesitate to seek information and help. Any one of the above-mentioned organizations can offer you education, guidance, and support. Obtaining knowledge is one of your first steps in alleviating the uncertainty and anxiety of dealing with such a diagnosis.