EMDR, light therapy, meditation…: 9 natural therapies for bipolar depression

Combined with prescribed medications, these 9 alternative approaches can help you better manage the symptoms of bipolar disorder.

Bipolar disorder requires the management of two distinct categories of symptoms. Manic symptoms can include impulsive behavior, excessive irritability, and anxiety. While depressive symptoms can include low mood, lack of appetite and emotional indifference. Although there aren’t many complementary or alternative medicine remedies for manic behavior, there are a few therapies that can help relieve depression. Most people with bipolar disorder spend the majority of their time in depression rather than mania.

But just because the therapies exist doesn’t mean people with bipolar disorder should throw away their antidepressants. Bipolar disorder is a very serious disorder that can last a lifetime.

Complementary, non-pharmacological treatments that have shown some benefit for the depressive side of bipolar disorder include:

1. Rhodiola

Officially known as rhodiola rosea, this herb has been used for years to help manage stress. It has also shown positive effects on people suffering from depression. Although rhodiola does not relieve depression as much as an antidepressant, it has fewer side effects. Rhodiola is slightly stimulating. It’s a good supplement for someone on antidepressants and feels like they don’t have a lot of energy.”

2. SAMe

SAMe, or S-adenosylmethionine, is a coenzyme found naturally in the body. It has been shown to reduce symptoms in people with major depressive disorder. SAMe should be used with caution in people with bipolar disorder and depression. It can actually cause mania. It should only be used under the direct supervision of a physician. Any real antidepressant can cause mania in bipolar people. There is therefore a certain risk that a patient taking SAMe will become manic.

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3. St. John’s Wort

This herb, often used in Europe for mood management, is one of the best-known natural mood enhancers. St. John’s wort can actually help fight depression but also interact with many other drugs.

4. Meditation

People who meditate using a mindfulness-based approach may see a reduction in depression that directly correlates to the number of days of meditation. The more they meditate, the less symptoms they have.

5. Omega-3 fatty acids

People with bipolar disorder may be more motivated to start eating more omega-3-rich fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines. Uu they can consider taking omega-3 supplements. Indeed, the anti-inflammatory effects of omega-3 fatty acids could help regulate mood. Adding around 300 milligrams of omega-3s each day to a depression treatment plan can improve results. Omega-3s could help move neurotransmitters in and out, which could help stabilize mood.”

6. Light therapy

People with bipolar disorder may have interrupted circadian rhythms. Which means their daily biological clock is not working well. A number of strategies can help reset this internal clock and improve the management of bipolar disorder. These include timed exposure to periods of light and dark and a forced change in sleeping hours.

8. Interpersonal and Social Rhythm Therapy

This technique teaches people with bipolar disorder to maintain a more regular schedule in all aspects of life. Including sleeping, waking, diet and exercise. It has been shown to improve daily functioning.

9. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy

EMDR uses an eye movement program, combined with active memorization of traumatic experiences, to improve symptoms. This approach may be helpful for people with bipolar disorder and a history of trauma.

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