Health and social aspects of bipolar disorder
Bipolar affective disorder is a mental illness in which drastic mood changes occur periodically without an objective reason in real life. From depressive states and apathy, the patient transitions to the other extreme, defined as mania – a highly elated mood, excitement or excessive irritability.
Depressive states are characterized by grim mood, low spirits, low self-esteem due to the wrong interpretation of the past and undermining the personal achievements, as well as by anxiety and tension, loss of interest in work, other people, even in favorite activities and things. In addition, pessimism prevails – the patient thinks he is useful loser and only bad things are coming, so he stops being active and falls into inactivity.
In manic disorders, the situation is the opposite – patients overestimate their abilities and they think that there are no limitations and they can overcome and do everything, which is why they are very active and constantly in good, joyful mood. But in reality, everything remains only as an idea, because these people cannot concentrate easily on specific tasks, they fail and try new things, again too rashly and without the necessary skills. But they never seek the reason for their failures in themselves, they just blame others, which makes them asocial.
Bipolar affective disorder affects both men and women, and the disease may occur at different stages of life – in young people, people in active age and elderly people. Apart from mood swings, perception and way of thinking also change, so patients can experience hallucinations, hear voices, etc.
All this generally leads to polar and unnatural behavioral changes. These lead to social self-isolation /in depressive states/ and social exclusion /in maniac states/, because of the withdrawal of others. Thus, patients disturb their normal communication, they can lose their jobs, as well as they have a number of financial, property and social problems. We have to mention also the health problems, because bipolar disorder also causes other mental disorders, weight loss or obesity due to the condition, cardiovascular diseases, hormonal and other disorders. People suffering from bipolar disorder often hurt themselves, and in some cases they can even kill themselves.
General characteristics of bipolar disorder
Depressive and manic manifestations can be with variable duration – from a week up to a half year, so they are with different frequency of the mood swing, sequence and degree of the condition. Changes are considered frequent if they occur 4 times or more a year.
There are episodes of “clarity” among the changes when symptoms disappear partially or completely, and patients return to their normal life. There are also cases of mixed type. For example, the patient may be obsessed by delusions of grandeur, but at the same time he may blame himself for unfulfilled realization of this grandeur and uselessness, which is a symptom of a depressive state.
As has been mentioned, the severity of depressive and manic manifestations may be different:
- Type 1 of the disease may include hospitalization in a specialized health care facility, as depressive and manic states are manifested fully and complications may occur.
- Type 2 of the disease is a lighter form in which the depressive periods alternate with hypomania – a condition that does not reach the extreme characteristics of the mania.
- There is an even lighter form – alternation of short periods in which the complete criteria both for manic and depressive periods are not present.
In addition to possible heredity, the disease may occur also due to:
- Hormonal changes
- Use of certain medications or drugs
- Alcohol abuse
- Multiple sclerosis
- Frustrations in the personal or social life
- Work and everyday life with high levels of tension and stress, trauma, and so on.
Western medicine uses pharmacological means and psychotherapy for the treatment of bipolar disorder. In psychotherapy, patients learn how to recognize the initial symptoms of individual periods, self-control of emotions, etc.
Medications include antipsychotics and mood stabilizers, as antidepressants are stopped in manic disorders. In order to make the periods of clarity longer, patients take anticonvulsants and lithium, which are usually combined. Sometimes the hospitalization is required – voluntary or compulsory, if the patient is dangerous to himself and others.
Ayurvedic interpretation of bipolar disorder
Bipolar disorder is a mental illness and Ayurveda associates it with the problems of the astral body – the fine field of life force, thoughts and feelings. They run through special channels between the energy centers /the chakras/, so just like fluids, the energy also flows through channels in the physical body.
If physical channels become polluted or clogged, physical illnesses occur. If problems appear with the flows of astral channels – the psychic energy moves in the wrong direction or it can even stop its movement, then mental diseases occur – blurred consciousness, wrong perceptions, etc. Moreover, the subtle body and physical body are in unity and influence each other – mental disorders lead to physical disorders and vice versa.
In the optimal state of health, the two bodies are in harmony, and they are connected through special energy fields and channels, which forms the aura. If the connection is disturbed, the harmony is also disturbed, as well as the interconnectivity of the mind and body, which causes the mental disorder. At the same time, the dense and subtle body are separated by a protection shield. Its disturbance mixes and confuses reality with the personal desires, perceptions, fantasies, emotions, thoughts, and the person starts to live in an unreal world. He perceives in a wrong way the objective situations, events, and so on, which can make him dangerous for himself and others.
Treatment of bipolar disorder with the help of Ayurveda
In the treatment of bipolar disorder, Ayurveda strengthens both the physical and mental health, for which a set of measures is used. Among them is the specialized diet for balancing the respective Doshas – the vital energies that are out of the harmonic balance. They are three, and for bipolar disorder a major role is played by Vata – the energy of movements in the body. Within the scope of its control fall the brain and nervous system with the nerve impulses, as well as the implementation of energy flows. Unbalanced Pitta dosha is related to “fiery” emotions that lead to agitation, aggressiveness and arrogance.
If the third dosha – Kapha is out of balance, then there is the other extreme including apathy, lack of desire and motivation, passiveness, exclusion from real events, strong dependence on others.
Each one of these Doshas can be soothed and returned to harmony with the help of certain foods. But since usually there are deviations in all three energy in diseases, the nutritional regime should be prepared by an Ayurveda specialist – some foods may be beneficial to one dosha but contraindicated for another.
Generally, for Vata balance are recommended warm, heavy and oily foods with spicy, astringent and bitter taste. For balance of Pitta dosha are recommended cooler and more fluid foods with sweet, bitter and astringent taste. For Kapha are suitable warm and lighter, dry foods, as the suitable tastes are spicy and astringent, as well as bitter.
For balance and control of the emotions and mind are recommended meditations, mantras, breathing exercises and spiritual therapy. Warm natural oils are also very beneficial as they are poured on the upper parts of the head– for the mental functions; on the forehead – for the perceptions and on the neck for the subconscious level. Sesame oil is one heavier oil that is suitable for Vata, and the coconut oil is suitable for Pitta. The Ayurveda specialist has to decide whether to use oil for Kapha balance. Usually, soothing herbs such as aswaganda, brahmi, haritaki, guggul are boiled in the oils.