“A magical orange grove in the midst of a nightmare” Robert Lowell
Condition and Causes
Manic-depressive disorder or bipolar disorder is a variant of classic depression. It usually begins with depression and develops into alternating periods of depression and mania. A person with severe manic depressive disorder may go from feeling unrealistically invincible and elated to being overwhelmed with misery and despair.
There are several theories on what the causes are. It may be triggered by extreme stress. It may be hereditary in some cases. Researchers believe that early experiences such as loss
of parent or other childhood trauma may play a role. The manic phase can be used unconsciously as a psychological compensation for the depression that could otherwise
engulf the patient. Those with previous childhood symptoms of psychological disorders such as attention
deficit disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, conduct disorder and schizophrenia can be precursor to bipolar.
A high sodium imbalance in intracellular fluid is evident in periods of mania for the patient. It is also known that in manic individuals that the brain chemicals called monamines are depleted.
Signs and symptoms
• Withdrawal from society
• Extreme pessimism
• A sudden loss of interest and failure to finish projects that were started with
• Chronic irritability
• Sudden attacks of rage when crossed
• Loss of inhibition
• Changes in sexual behaviour that may range from complete lost of sex drive to
• Changes in sleep pattern
The course of bipolar is highly variable. Mania and depression can differ in severity, and length of cycles, from depression to mania and back again, this can occur over a period of a few days or over the course of a few months to a few years. Low self-esteem and feelings of hopelessness characterize the depressive phase, may lack motivation to do anything, even get out of bed. Some people can sleep for weeks, withdrawal from society and avoid relationships. One can also become unproductive and unable to work. Other suffers can be living normal lives but inwardly feel despair and unable to experience pleasure. The periods of mania often start sudden and without warning. It can start with hypomania, of great enthusiasm and energy. Others can experience manic psychosis, in which they have boundless and are very active and easily distracted. They may not rest for 24 hours or more. Mental activity is highly accelerated, and delusions of grandeur, persecution or invincibility are common. Some people in this state seem to be elated for no apparent reason, but some may become irrationally irritable and hostile. They may have hallucinations. A person experiencing full blown mania generally believes they are functioning at peak efficiency.
Medical Approach and Treatment
Lithium and valproate is the drug of choice for bipolar disorder they are mood stabilisers, carbamazepine, or lamotrogine, and atypical antipsychotic drug also an option.
Medications used to treat depression is also used to stabilize depression, tricyclics, monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
Treatment is often different between the management of the acute episode and the maintenance. An individual with mania might require an atypical antipsychotic and a
mood stabiliser during an acute episode but when settled only require mood stabilizers to prevent further episodes. An individual with bipolar depression may only require an antidepressant at that time before relying on a mood stabilizer when the depression has resolved.
The psychological therapy is also used in conjunction with medication. Studies have shown that combing both can give better results.1 This is often done usually with a psychiatrist using Cognitive behavioural therapy, psychotherapy, interpersonal therapy, and counseling.
Nutrition Approach and Treatment
Eat a diet consisting of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, beans, and legumes. Whole grains
and whole grain-products are recommended, expect for those that contain gluten. White
fish and turkey should be eaten twice a week.
Fish that are high in omeda-3 fatty acids should be consumed. Good choices are tuna,
salmon, mackerel, and herring. Omega3 fatty acids may stabilize mood swings and have
effects similar to those on medication of lithium.
1 From ‘A Randomized Controlled Study of Cognitive Therapy for Relapse Prevention of Bipolar Affective
Disorder’ see Bibliography.
No sugar or products containing sugar. Avoid alcohol dairy products, caffeine,
carbonated beverages, and all foods with colorings, flavourings, preservatives and other
Food allergies may aggravate mood swings be aware which foods may cause problems
and avoid them.
Meditation is a helpful exercise to stabilize mood and depressive symptoms. Yoga will
also help to balance the mind and body, and aid in some relief.
Free-form amino acid complex, to supply protein needed for normal brain function and to
L-Tryosine is important in treating depression, it stabilizes mood swings.
Taurine as deficiency can result in hyperactivity, activity, and poor brain function.
Vitamin B Complex can promote healthy brain function and nervous system. Injections
of Vitamin B goes to the body quicker. Use extra Vitamin B12 as it is important in
Zinc protects the brain cells plus copper to balance the zinc.
Lithium is a trace mineral that alters the manic depressive cycles, producing greater mood
stability. Lithium orotate is an organic form sold in health food stores.
Apart from those nutrients which are important, Essential fatty acids, 5-HTP,
Multivitamin and mineral complex, vitamin C with bioflavoids are also helpful.
There hasn’t been much research or trials done on herbs for bipolar, the following
suggestions should be taken with extreme caution, if on medication, safely on the
St John’s Wort has an effect on serotonin levels. It can interfere with prescription
Gingko Biloba is believed to improve memory and blood flow to the brain. The blood
flow can improve brain function and mood.
Black cohosh is a natural sedative that can help alleviated manic depression symptoms.
Licorice is effective in boosting and balancing hormone production.
Ginseng can help increase energy levels for people during bouts of depression and if
excessive fatigue is present.
• Ghost points is useful in the treatment of psychotic illness including bipolar, use
the 13 Ghost point balance. They are useful in balancing the brain and in Chinese
medicine are about treatment of entities and seeing ghosts. See Appendix.
• Chakra Hologram, crown and brow charka are considerations as imbalances in
those chakras can cause mental illness.
• Heart/Kidney axis as Chinese medicine believe mental illness is caused by imbalance in the spirit. Once the Shen and Jing come into balance, life is more spontaneous and following destiny, which leads to well being.