Treatment for bipolar disorder typically involves medication and psychotherapy, though a number of alternative therapies exist that may help you manage your illness, often without adverse side effects. Bipolar patients may find that alternative options, such as light and dark therapy, mindfulness meditation, yoga and various forms of exercise may complement conventional treatments, empowering them to better manage their illness. Light and dark therapy focuses on sensitivities to our biological clock that can interfere with critical sleep and wake cycles in bipolar patients. By managing the sufferer's exposure to light, this therapy helps regulate biological rhythms, reducing mood cycling. Mindfulness meditation, which pairs stress reduction with breathing techniques, and cognitive behavioral therapies, may help sufferers learn to recognize and deflect negative thoughts and thinking patterns. Meditation is also believed to activate endorphin release, leading to positive feelings of wellbeing that may linger beyond the meditation period. Acupuncture, an ancient Chinese healing method that seeks to balance and restore life force, called "chi," is currently being studied as a complementary therapy for bipolar disorder. Studies suggest acupuncture may reduce symptoms of depression as well as mania, and may also help relieve stress. Acupuncture helps restores chi through insertion and manipulation of needles along the affected meridian, stimulating the body's ability to overcome imbalances. Acupuncture is linked to improved sleep, increased endorphins, and the release of serotonin, a brain chemical important in mood regulation. Tai chi, also dating back to ancient China, is an exercise system of smooth, slow movements, used to achieve harmony and balance between body and mind. Researchers report that tai chi practitioners experience an enhanced sense of wellbeing, as well as reduced depression, tension and fatigue. Yoga is believed to help ease bipolar's depression and mood swing symptoms, while massage therapy helps to relieve the anxiety by impacting the body's biochemistry. Studies suggest levels of the stress hormone Cortisol may drop as much as 50 percent following a massage. These alternative therapies may be effective in complementing traditional treatments. It's important, however, to talk with your mental health professional about any alternative approaches you're using or considering.
"Alternative" Treatments for PTSD?
Tai Chi for the Soul, Body and Mind
Alternative Medicine for Smoking
Try Cow Face…For Your Mental Health
Depression in Older Adults
Downward Dog Your Way to Happiness?
Understanding and Living with the Many Shades of Bipolar Disorder
Do Alternative Autism Therapies Work?
Last Updated:December 20, 2012