Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in a person's mood, energy, and ability to function. Different from the normal ups and downs that everyone goes through, the symptoms of bipolar disorder are severe. They can result in damaged relationships, poor job or school performance, and even suicide. But there is good news: bipolar disorder can be treated, and people with this illness can lead full and productive lives.
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What Are the Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder causes dramatic mood swings—from overly "high" and/or irritable to sad and hopeless, and then back again, often with periods of normal mood in between. Severe changes in energy and behavior go along with these changes in mood. The periods of highs and lows are called episodes of mania and depression.
Signs and symptoms of mania (or a manic episode) include:
- Increased energy, activity, and restlessness
- Exessively "high," overly good, euphoric mood
- Extreme irritability
- Racing thoughts and talking very fast, jumping from one idea to another
- Distractibility, can't concentrate well
- Little sleep needed
- Unrealistic beliefs in one's abilities and powers
- Poor judgment
- Spending sprees
- A lasting period of behavior that is different from usual
- Increased sexual drive
- Abuse of drugs, particularly cocaine, alcohol, and sleeping medications
- Provocative, intrusive, or aggressive behavior
- Denial that anything is wrong
A manic episode is diagnosed if elevated mood occurs with three or more of the other symptoms most of the day, nearly every day, for 1 week or longer. If the mood is irritable, four additional symptoms must be present.
Signs and symptoms of depression (or a depressive episode) include:
- Lasting sad, anxious, or empty mood
- Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed, including sex
- Decreased energy, a feeling of fatigue or of being "slowed down"
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
- Restlessness or irritability
- Sleeping too much, or can't sleep
- Change in appetite and/or unintended weight loss or gain
- Chronic pain or other persistent bodily symptoms that are not caused by physical illness or injury
- Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
A mild to moderate level of mania is called hypomania.
Sometimes, severe episodes of mania or depression include symptoms of psychosis (or psychotic symptoms). Common psychotic symptoms are hallucinations (hearing, seeing, or otherwise sensing the presence of things not actually there) and delusions (false, strongly held beliefs not influenced by logical reasoning or explained by a person's usual cultural concepts). Psychotic symptoms in bipolar disorder tend to reflect the extreme mood state at the time.
CAUSES OF BIPOLAR
To understand why various health problems can cause the symptoms such as mood swings, you need to understand how imbalances in body affect the function of the brain.
Brain Inflammation: Inflammation is a significant factor in Bipolar Disorder; inflammatory conditions such as periodontal disease, autoimmune disorders and cardiovascular disease can trigger the excitatory neurotransmitters such as Glutamate to become over stimulated.
When the immune system is activated by inflammation, it triggers the production of regulatory proteins known as cytokines. These peptides activate the hyppthalamic pituitary adrenal axis (HPA), creating a stress response.
Cytokines also increase the activity of the enzyme IDO, which acts to decrease serotonin and increase glutamate - often seen in patients with Bipolar mood swings. The cytokine interferon is an often used in treating immune disorders such multiple sclerosis and hepatitis; immune therapy is a well-known cause of mood imbalance.
A variety of other health problems are known to trigger cytokine reactions, which ultimately result in mood swings:
- Gluten allergies and other food sensitivities lead to the production of IgG antibodies, setting off an immune response; Gluten intolerance is a under recognized cause of many mental health issues.
- Infections such as Candida and small bacterial overgrowth are also linked to inflammation immune system activation;
- Heavy metal toxins in the body are a well documented source of inflammation; and cause increased excitatory activity in the brain.
- Mold toxins found in the home or workplace can cause respiratory symptoms which in turn trigger an immune response, leading to manic and depressive symptoms;
- Refined sugars are responsible for a multitude of gut complaints, including Candida (yeast) infections, and an increase in food allergies, which are associated with depression;
- Digestive dysfunction, a result of medications, yeast, malabsorption of peptides, and other bowel issues, is also known to cause inflammation. You may have digestive issues without even being aware of them.
Neurotransmitter Imbalance: Mood Swings can result from imbalances in the levels of chemical messengers in the brain called neurotransmitters. The emotions we feel are based on the release of neurotransmitters.
Nutritional Deficiencies: Our brains depend on a variety of nutrients, among them the B vitamins, vitamin D, zinc, magnesium, and the Omega 3 fatty acids, to produce the neurotransmitters that regulate the way we think and feel. When we fail to get enough of these vital nutrients, whether in the food we eat or through supplementation, this can have a tremendous negative effect on our emotions, energy levels, ability to concentrate, sleep patterns, and many other important functions.
Impaired Methylation: Methylation is a vitally important metabolic process which occurs in every cell of the body. This process, by which a methyl group (consisting of 1 carbon and 3 hydrogen atoms) is transferred from one molecule to another, is important to the manufacture of DNA and RNA.
Methylation also enables cell detoxification and hormone production; it helps to regulate neurotransmitters and synchronize neural networks, ensuring optimum nervous system function, cognition, and modulation of mood.
Hormone imbalances: Improper levels of thyroid hormones, adrenal, sex hormones, and insulin can affect the way we feel and behave.
Street Drugs and Certain Prescription Drugs Can Cause Depression: Prescription drugs, such as antihistamines, anti-hypertensives, anti-inflammatory agents, birth control pills, cholesterol lowering medications, corticosteriods, tranquilizers, sedatives and antidepressants, have all been found to cause mania and depression in susceptible individuals. Alcohol is a depressant, increases adrenal hormone output, interferes with many brain processes, and disrupts normal sleep cycles. Nicotine stimulates adrenal hormone secretion, including cortisol. Caffeine causes anxiety, panic disorders, depression, nervousness, palpitations, irritability and recurrent headache in sensitive individuals. Drugs like Ecstasy damage the serotonin transporters.
Testing for Causes of Bipolar
In order to properly treat your depressive symptoms, it is important to know exactly which cause, or causes, are responsible. Lab testing can narrow down the source of the problem and help to determine the course of treatment which will most effectively address your individual needs.
- A neuroendocrine profile can detect adrenal, hormonal, and neurotransmitter levels and pinpoint any deficiencies which may be linked to depression symptoms; The NeuroScience Targeted Amino Acid Therapy Program is an effective means of addressing hormones and neurotransmitter imbalances. This test will determine if an imbalance is present and what should be used in order to combat the neurotransmitter imbalance that disrupts your body's hormone regulation.
- A thyroid profile tests for levels of thyroid hormone to determine whether thyroid dysfunction is a contributing factor;
- Breath testing can detect bacterial overgrowth which may indicate digestive issues such as Crohn's disease, Celiac disease, lactose intolerance, and irritable bowel syndrome;
- IgG food allergy testing can confirm the presence of antibodies produced by food allergens;
- A digestive stool analysis can find problematic issues with metabolic function, digestive enzyme activity, immune function, and nutrient absorption;
- Urine peptide testing can reveal the presence of proteins that have a known association with neurological imbalances and psychiatric issues;
- An intestinal permeability test can detect leaky gut, a fairly common problem which has been linked with many mental health problems, including autism and depression.
- Organic acids testing detects the presence of acids which are associated with metabolic activities such as detoxification, microbial activity in the intestines, and neurotransmitter breakdown.
Natural Treatment For Bipolar
Treating the Health Problems that Cause Mood Swings
Once you have determined the contributing factor or factors causing Bipolar symptoms, your health care adviser can work with you to design an individualized treatment which focuses on correcting deficiencies and imbalances, removing allergens, detoxifying the body, and increasing digestive health.
Your care regimen may consist of one or more of the following elements:
- Dietary changes to include whole, organic foods - including plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein;
- Neurotransmitter support to balance the neurotransmitters which regulate mood;
- Probiotics for digestive support;
- Methylation cofactors to promote methylation and prevent the loss of methyl groups;
- Multivitamins to correct vitamin deficiencies;
- Omega 3 fatty acid supplementation;
- Specially formulated depression supplements.
Be Proactive - Get Healthy and Prevent Mood Swing Symptoms.
If you suffer from Bipolar or any other mental health complaint, adopting a healthy lifestyle can go a long way toward achieving a natural cure for depression by relieving your symptoms and improving your overall sense of well-being.
- Structure: Bipolar is cyclical in nature. Getting your life and body into a predictable regimen can go a long way in stabilizing your symptoms. Wake up and go to bed the same time every day. Eat your meals at the same time, etc.
- Good nutrition is always important; eating a healthy diet can improve digestive function and correct nutrient imbalances that may be causing your symptoms.
- It is impossible to overemphasize the importance of stress relief. Stress hormones disrupt neurotransmitter function, depress the immune system, and promote cardiovascular disease. Finding a regular activity to help you relax and recharge is vital to your overall health and can help you to keep mood swings away.
- Exercise is important for everyone. Regular physical activity has a multitude of benefits; it can help control your weight, improve your self-esteem, regulate neurotransmitter production, improve sleep habits, control diabetes, improve heart health, and increase your endorphin levels.
- Other natural Bipolar cures include lifestyle changes such as improving nutritional status, exercise, stress reduction, improving sleep, and limiting exposure to food additives, pesticides and other toxins in our environment.
Check out our professional brand supplements for nutritional support of mood swings.