Updated: Sep 16
Written by: Jordan Kadish
Reviewed for accuracy by: Kassie Love
Bipolar disorder, a mental condition characterized by intense mood swings from manic highs to depressive lows, affects millions of individuals across the country. Approximately 2.3 million Americans navigate Bipolar disorder each day, making it a prevalent issue that deserves proper attention. While conventional treatments like medication are vital parts of managing Bipolar disorder, many individuals seek holistic, or natural, approaches in combination with their treatment plans. This blog post will explore the natural strategies available that may help individuals cope with Bipolar disorder.
Is there a holistic cure for Bipolar disorder?
Although holistic approaches can significantly improve one’s ability to manage the symptoms of bipolar disorder, it is important to understand that there is no foolproof holistic cure for this complex condition. Bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition that usually requires some sort of ongoing medical treatment and therapy. Holistic strategies should never replace conventional treatments for this disorder. Instead, think of holistic strategies as a way to complement regular treatments for Bipolar disorder prescribed by healthcare professionals.
It is wonderful to take proactive steps towards taking care of your mental health, and holistic strategies are a great way to do this. Remember, though, your healthcare provider knows what is best for you and the treatment of your condition. It is not advised that you go through bipolar disorder treatment without medication. Always consult with your healthcare provider before making significant changes to your treatment plan, and keep them in the loop about the holistic strategies you may begin to employ.
Now, without further ado, here are 8 natural approaches to add to your treatment of Bipolar disorder!
Natural Ways to Treat Bipolar Disorder:
1. Mindful Meditation for Emotional Regulation
You may have heard of “mindfulness,” before, perhaps during yoga class or while scrolling through self-care posts on social media. Mindfulness has become a mental health buzzword lately—and for good reason! Mindfulness encapsulates focusing on the present moment, acknowledging the thoughts and feelings that flow within you without judgment, and creating a sense of tranquility in yourself despite your surroundings. Mindful meditation is a powerful tool that many individuals with Bipolar disorder practice to help manage their mood swings and improve their overall well-being .
For people with Bipolar disorder, this practice can be particularly helpful during an episode of high highs or low lows, like mania or depression. Mindfulness meditation helps create a buffer against extreme emotional fluctuations, promoting a sense of stability and calm amid perceived chaos and irritability. Remember, mindfulness meditation will not act as a cure for Bipolar disorder, but it may help individuals make sense of their emotions without distress, and ease into a sense of peace after emotional fluctuation.
One can practice mindfulness meditation on their own, but many beginners find it helpful to use a guide. There are many guided meditations out there that only require 5-10 minutes of your time, and you can even complete them while on your commute to work or during downtime before bed. Some examples include:
2. Healthy Diet
Eating healthy not only does wonders for your physical health, but it also plays a large role in stabilizing your mood. This is extremely important for those with Bipolar disorder. Think about your diet as not just a means for surviving and feeding your body, but as a way to provide your brain with the nutrients it needs to function properly. Incorporating certain foods into your diet can act as a natural treatment for Bipolar disorder, along with your common bipolar medication. Some of the best foods for this include :
Fatty fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and help regulate moods.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants, which help protect brain cells from overwhelming stress.
While implementing certain foods into your diet is beneficial for your emotional well-being, so is reducing your intake of other foods and substances . For example:
Limiting caffeine and sugar can help with emotional stability and keeping your mood level.
Limiting your intake of alcohol can also reduce the chance of triggered manic episodes. Additionally, alcohol is standard to stay away from when taking medication for Bipolar disorder, as it often interacts and can reduce the effectiveness of the medication.
3. Herbal Supplements Under Medical Supervision:
Certain herbal supplements have been researched to show promise in managing bipolar symptoms . For example, St John’s Wort is often used to alleviate symptoms of depression, and omega-3 supplements can help reduce the severity of mood swings. Think of taking supplements as the boosted version of adding certain vitamin-rich foods into your diet. However, you need to consult with a healthcare provider before incorporating any supplements into your treatment plan, as they may interact with certain prescribed medications.
Supplements can be a great holistic bipolar treatment to go along with your regular treatment plan but should be approached with caution and careful attention.
4. Regular Exercise
Exercise is a natural mood stabilizer, but one that many overlook. Engaging in regular exercise releases endorphins that can help manage depressive symptoms and reduce feelings of stress. Whether this exercise is light, like going on brisk walks or doing yoga, or more strenuous, like kickboxing or running marathons, exercise has numerous mental health benefits. When incorporating exercise into a holistic Bipolar treatment plan, consistency and balance are key. Create realistic goals, such as exercising for just 15 minutes every day, especially if you are a beginner. Try your best to stay consistent, and increase the time and amount of exercise as you go, if you wish!
5. Consistent Sleep Schedule
Sleep is endlessly important for taking care of your mental health. Maintaining a balanced sleep schedule and prioritizing quality sleep can help regulate your mood. Create a calming bedtime routine by reducing caffeine and screen time at least an hour before bed to increase your chance of quality sleep.
Disruptions to sleep can trigger mood swings and worsen bipolar symptoms. Establishing a consistent sleep routine, with set bedtimes and wake times helps regulate circadian rhythms and significantly improve your well-being.
6. Strong Support System
Building and maintaining supportive social connections can provide emotional stability and reduce feelings of isolation. Joining support groups, engaging in therapy, or confiding in trusted friends and family members can offer invaluable emotional support.
Social connections play a vital role in managing bipolar disorder. They provide a sense of belonging and understanding, reducing the emotional burden of the condition. Support groups, whether in-person or online, offer a safe space for individuals with bipolar disorder to share their experiences and learn from others.
7. Creative Outlets
Whether you are an artistic person or not, engaging in creative activities like art, music, dance, or writing can be therapeutic for people with bipolar disorder. Creative outlets provide an outlet to express emotions and reduce stress healthily and productively. This can be a great way to get negative emotions out without causing harm to yourself or others.
8. Sun Exposure
Exposure to natural light, particularly during the day, can help regulate circadian rhythms and improve mood. Spending time outdoors, even for a short walk, can be beneficial for individuals with bipolar disorder.
Natural light exposure helps synchronize the body's internal clock, which can be disrupted in bipolar disorder. Adequate sunlight during the day can promote better sleep at night and enhance overall mood stability. However, it's important to strike a balance and protect your skin from excessive sun exposure, especially during peak hours.
If you want to learn more about how to treat Bipolar disorder, do not hesitate to contact me,, Kassie Love. I'm a therapist who specializes in helping individuals and families coping with mood disorders, like Bipolar disorder, feel better.