According to the Treatment Advocacy Center (TAC), approximately 5.5 million American adults, or 2.6 percent of the population, suffer from bipolar disorder. Furthermore, approximately half of these people will go untreated in any given year, and anywhere from 15 to 17 percent of those living with bipolar disorder will commit suicide. The rates for bipolar disorder among children are much more difficult to estimate, as the condition is often misdiagnosed as attention deficit disorder (ADD).
The economic costs of bipolar disorder are equally disturbing. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), direct costs related to bipolar disorder are $7 billion annually. This covers the cost of treatment, medication. Indirect costs, which include lost productivity and caregiver costs, are estimated at an annual $38 billion.
Given these statistics, it is not hard to see that patients who suffer from bipolar disorder must be treated. Unfortunately, the common medications used to treat the condition can have unpleasant side effects, such as weight gain or early symptoms of diabetes. Chiropractic care can provide an effective, safe treatment that may help manage symptoms.
What Is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder, previously known as manic-depressive disorder, is a condition in which patients have wild mood swings from extreme hyperactivity, racing thoughts, and increased risk-taking (manic phase) to equally extreme depression, sadness, and possible suicidal thoughts (depressive phase). These mood shifts are thought to be caused by rapid changes in the serotonin levels in the brain, which help regulate mood. These moods are often out of proportion to what is actually going on in a patient’s life. For example, a friend cancelling a visit due to illness might lead to extreme thoughts of worthlessness or loneliness.
Some patients may cycle between manic and depressive phases very rapidly, sometimes all in the same day. This type of bipolar disorder episode, called a mixed episode, can often be the most difficult to treat because of how quickly the mood may shift.
Standard Treatments for Bipolar Disorder
The standard treatment for bipolar disorder involves pharmaceuticals, usually mood stabilizers. Most patients with bipolar disorder will see their symptoms dramatically reduced by mood stabilizers, but sometimes adding anti-anxiety medications or antidepressants can also help smooth out mood swings. In some cases, patients may also benefit from psychotherapy in conjunction with medication.
Medication side effects range from mild to serious. Patients may experience drowsiness, weight gain, nausea, or diarrhea. More severe side effects may include onset of diabetes symptoms or suicidal thoughts.
Although chiropractic care cannot completely replace standard treatments, it can help even out moods and reduce some of the medication side effects. Dr. Nathen Horst will focus his efforts on the first seven vertebrae of the spine, known as the cervical vertebrae. When these vertebrae shift out of proper alignment, they may place pressure on nerves leading out from the base of the brain that regulate the serotonin levels. By shifting these vertebrae back into proper alignment, the pressure on these nerves is released, and the brain may once again have the proper level of serotonin to help even out mood swings.
Bipolar disorder can be devastating for patients and their caregivers. Chiropractic care may help make things easier for both parties.