A series of case studies have shown success in helping people with bipolar disorder who are not improving with medication get off of those medications, and stabilize long term using a combination of natural therapies and counselling.
Bipolar disorder is one of the top 10 leading causes of disability globally with up to 6% of US population affected. Often little hope of recovery is provided for patients with bipolar disorder, and even the definitions of “recovery” or “improvement” vary. If improvement does not occur, patients are said to be “treatment resistant” and are most often found to be unable to sustain a content mood for any significant period of time.
This bleak outlook is exactly why I feel passionately about Integrative Mental Health. More drugs than ever are being prescribed for mental health conditions and yet, more mental health conditions are being diagnosed and unsuccessfully treated than before.
Furthermore, the side effects from these medications can be just as debilitating as the disease themselves. These medications are often not tested for their use together, especially for long term use– yet this is the staple of treatment. That being said, in certain situations, medications can be essential, and truly be life-saving. They can return a level of function that was lost with cycles of mania and depression.
The issue is, there needs to be more.
There needs to be more options, more of a whole person approach, and a more positive outlook on the potential of recovery for these individuals.
Dr. Gurevich, a holistic psychiatrist is, fortunately, doing just that – providing more. He has recently published two case reports on the treatment of bipolar disorder specifically. He was able, through a series of integrative treatment phases, to allow patients to come off of their psychiatric medications through holistic treatments and these patients remained stable for over a year.
Dr. Gurevich enlisted various approaches.The first approach was to address the possible underlying causes of an individual’s bipolar disorder. This is an important point, because it recognizes bipolar disorder for what it is – a pattern of symptoms, moods, and behaviours, rather than a specific neurochemical imbalance which has yet to be proven. Instead, he looked at psychological traumas, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, allergies, food sensitivities, chronic infections, and toxicities.
To address these potential causes or triggers, various detoxification regimes, supplementation, counselling, and lifestyle changes were advised.
Once these factors were in place, medications were able to be tapered under medical supervision. They were also tapered at the correct speed which is based on a number of factors – how long the person has been on the medication, how sensitive the patient might be, and so forth. As these medications were lowered, new supportive therapies were added in such as vitamins, minerals, botanicals, even homeopathics [A surprising find in a psychiatric office]!
The final phase was to ensure long term stability. For some this meant ongoing counselling and support, for others acupuncture was helpful, for most supplements were continued. If issues arose, they were addressed quickly.
Ultimately, the treatment approach was designed to address not only biological needs, but psychological, and spiritual as well. Some of the specific approaches used included:
Best part of all, was that it worked!
The cases involved in these treatment plans were able to withdrawal from medications, achieve long term remission from bipolar symptoms, and all previous side effects from medications and withdrawal of medications were eliminated. While this approach was used with a relatively low number of patients so far, it is certainly promising, and intuitively should make sense to most people. By addressing the whole person, and using individualized approaches to that person’s unique story, you will have better outcomes.
If you or someone you know is suffering with bipolar disorder and would like to learn more about how Naturopathic Mental Health may be able to help, please feel welcome to schedule a free 30 minute assessment with Dr. Ashley.
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