Decoding Bipolar Disorder Including Ayurvedic Treatment

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 “It’s like being on a roller coaster when you’re bipolar. You can predict some drop-offs, while others need you to simply hold on because the following bend will send you into an unexpected spin. Sometimes you’re smiling and flinging your hands in the air, and other times you’re clinging, screaming at the top of your lungs for dear life.”  

The bipolar disorder sometimes referred to as manic-depressive disorder, is characterized by dramatic shifts in mood, energy, and activity levels that affect a person’s ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. These shifts in mood and energy levels are more severe than the normal ups and downs that are experienced by everyone. This is a condition that can affect both men and women. Men are more likely to have euphoric or manic episodes, whereas women are more likely to have depressive episodes.

According to a study, around 1.1 per cent of the population over the age of 18 suffers from bipolar disorder. Unfortunately, 13.7 per cent of India’s population suffers from mental illness, with bipolar disorder ranking first. It is critical to recognise this sickness as soon as possible so that it does not progress to the point of becoming life-threatening.

Causes of Bipolar Disorder

  • Genetic factor.
  • Stress and diabetes.
  • Imbalance of the neurotransmitters like dopamine and glutamine.
  • Disturbed diurnal cycle.
  • Drug addiction.


  • Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities
  • Increase in goal-directed activity or psychomotor agitation
  • Inflated grandiosity with increased talkativeness
  • Significant weight loss or decrease or increase in appetite
  •  Engaging in purposeless movements, such as pacing the room
  •  Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness
  •  Recurrent thoughts of death, recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt.

Bipolar experience of a 16-year-old girl: Suzy Johnston

When she was 16 and in her final year of high school, she first stepped down the rough and winding path that is bipolar disorder, blind, shoeless, and alone. She became severely depressed and was astounded by how damaging depression can be—not only does it leave the sufferer unable to feel any emotion other than intense misery, but it also takes away the ability to reflect on others’ emotions—for example, sharing in someone’s joy—and this can be extremely isolating. Bipolar disorder is marked by spells of mania (excessive happiness) and depression, both of which can be devastating to the sufferer.

She quotes “Which of my emotions is genuine? Which of me’s is me? Who’s the rambunctious, impulsive, chaotic, energetic, and insane one? Or is it the one who is shy, withdrawn, despondent, suicidal, doomed, and exhausted? Probably a little of both, but hopefully not too much of neither.”

She is confused about her emotions. She just asks herself who her real self is, the one in which she has a hyperactive character or the one in which she has hypomania and sometimes mixed emotions. But the harsh reality is different; neither of the emotions is of her but arose due to the disorder confusing her from herself.

Allopathy on Bipolar

Researchers think a key player is the brain’s intricate wiring. Healthy brains maintain strong connections between neurons thanks to the brain’s continuous efforts to prune itself and remove unused or faulty neural connections. 

This process is important because our neural pathways serve as a map for everything we do. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, scientists have discovered that the brain’s pruning ability is disrupted in people with bipolar disorder. That means their neurons go haywire and create a network that’s impossible to navigate.

With only confusing signals as a guide, people with bipolar disorder develop abnormal thoughts and behaviours. Also, psychotic symptoms, like disorganized speech and behaviour, delusional thoughts, paranoia, and hallucinations can emerge during extreme phases of bipolar disorder.

This is attributed to the overabundance of a neurotransmitter called dopamine. But despite these insights, we can’t pin bipolar disorder down to a single cause. It’s a complex problem. For example, the brain’s amygdala is involved in thinking, long-term memory, and emotional processing. In this brain region, factors as varied as genetics and social trauma may create abnormalities and trigger the symptoms of bipolar disorder.

The condition tends to run in families, so, we do know that genetics has a lot to do with it. But that doesn’t mean there’s a single bipolar gene. In fact, the likelihood of developing bipolar disorder is driven by the interactions between many genes in a complicated recipe we’re still trying to understand. The causes are complex, and consequently, diagnosing and living with bipolar disorder is a challenge. Despite this, the disorder is controllable.

Certain medications like lithium can help manage risky thoughts and behaviours by stabilizing moods. These mood-stabilizing medications work by decreasing abnormal activity in the brain, thereby strengthening the viable neural connections. Other frequently used medications include antipsychotics, which alter the effects of dopamine, and electroconvulsive therapy, which works like a carefully controlled seizure in the brain and is sometimes used as an emergency treatment.

Some bipolar patients reject treatment because they’re afraid it will dim their emotions and destroy their creativity. But modern psychiatry is actively trying to avoid that.

Ayurveda on Bipolar

Although there is no distinct Ayurvedic ailment analogous to bipolar disorder, the Charaka Samhita, one of the classical Ayurvedic books, contains a full discussion of “Unmada.” To define bipolar, utilises the term “Unmada” to refer to insanity in a broad sense. “Wandering about of mind, intellect, consciousness, knowledge, memory, inclination, manners, actions, and conduct,” according to author Charak. There are five known Unmada classes, and certain symptoms of bipolar disorder are identical to them, while others are like the categorization description.

The three main biological qualities that regulate the body and mind, vata, pitta, and kapha, as well as the mental principles of sattva, rajas, and tamas, which are the “qualities of consciousness,” cause bipolar illness.

Ayurvedic Treatment

Ayurvedic treatment for bipolar disorder focuses on the underlying cause. Rather than simply suppressing symptoms, Ayurveda’s holistic care assists in balancing the imbalanced or aggravated dosha, increasing Ojas and enhancing the individual’s sattva guna.

Spices that soothe Vata, such as cardamom, cumin, and ginger, are used in Vata-balancing foods. Rice and wheat balance Vata, but barley, corn, and white flour increase Vata and should be avoided.

Ayurveda herbs such as Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri), Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Tagar (Valeriana wallichii), Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus), ginseng, shanka pushpi (Convolvulus Pluricaulis), nutmeg, skull cap, kappikacchu (Mucuna pruriens), haritaki (Terminalia Chebula) and Bhringaraj (Eclipta Alba) help in reduction of depression.

Ayurveda’s Panchakarma treatment is also a recommended treatment for bipolar disorder. The physician determines which Panchakarma treatment is required for the patient after assessing the patient’s strength and aggravated dosha. Panchakarma aids in the purification of the body as well as the stabilisation of exacerbated doshas.

Ayurveda and Yoga, when combined, can aid in the holistic healing of bipolar disorder. It goes after the source of the problem – in bipolar disorder, where depression leads to suicide ideation. Tamas is elevated to Rajas, and then to Satva, where one might seek out solutions to issues and attempt to solve them. Through this integrated holistic treatment, the three doshas and three Gunas of the mind, as well as Ojas, are all stabilised.

Chinese Medicine for bipolar (Maniac-depression):

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, psychiatric disorders frequently relate to energetic disharmonies involving the so-called Five Spirits. These are the Hun (the noncorporeal spirit, associated with liver), the Po (the corporeal spirit, associated with physical life), the Zhi (the will, the force that determines the basic trajectory in life), the Yi (the intellect) and the Shen (the mind and the connecting spirit.)

According to TCM Bipolar(mania) is divided into four phases. These are Heart-Liver Fire (mania with insomnia, anger or excess joy) treated by Zhu  sha an Shen wan (a herb), Phlegm Fire Harassing the Heart (same symptoms as heart liver fire but the exaggerated response is seen) treated by Sheng tie Luo yin (a herb), Yang Ming Bowel Heat (mania with pain and distention in the abdomen) treated by Da Cheng qi tang (a herb) and Blood Accumulation (mania with strong pain in the abdomen due to blood stasis) treated by Ling Shu (A herb)

Metaphysical meaning of Bipolar:

Mental illnesses are widely misunderstood. They may have a soul-based component that therapists and persons affected by the diseases are unaware of.

There are many people who have multiple souls/aspects in their bodily form. However, only one of them is the principal soul, the “driver” who keeps the body/vehicle alive.

The other spirits, like one or more “backseat drivers,” are inactive. They share the same energy set as the physical body and are subject to the same interactions. However, those souls are powerless to change the situation in which the body finds itself.

If a person’s personality changes significantly over time, it’s possible that they’re experiencing a “walk-in” (or soul exchange) scenario, in which a different personality is taking possession of their body.

A rapid rise in spiritual or religious thoughts or practices might be an indication of bipolar disorder. Hyper-religiosity, or an increase in spiritual experiences, can be a hallmark of mania or psychosis. As a result, many bipolar disorder patients worry if their spiritual experiences are “genuine” or just a symptom of their disease.

Misdiagnosis may occur because of difficulties distinguishing spiritual experiences from psychotic symptoms, which can be detrimental if people receive unnecessary therapies or if a manic episode goes untreated. Spiritual experiences are viewed as an indication of disease based on a variety of cultural factors.

In one culture, seeing visions or hearing voices is respected, whereas, in another, it is regarded as a symptom of a serious disease. To avoid turning spiritual beliefs into physical disorders, the psychiatric diagnostic handbook (the DSM) provides separate ways of thinking about spiritual difficulties. At the same time, it recognises that sickness symptoms might have spiritual meanings that need to be examined. A real delusion, for example, is defined by the DSM as a deeply held, incorrect belief that is not “shared by others.”

Relationship of Black and white thinking with Bipolar

“Black-and-white thinking is the addict’s mentality, which can be a bar to recovery when one is still active. But an addict who finds the willingness can then rely on the same trait to stay clean: “Just don’t drink.”

 ~ Michael Prager

People who think in absolutes have a mental pattern known as black and white thinking. You may believe, for example, that you are either always correct or the world’s largest failure. This thought pattern is classified as a cognitive distortion by psychologists because it prevents you from seeing life as complex, uncertain, and ever-changing.

Thinking in black and white prevents you from reaching the middle ground, which might be difficult to maintain in life at those extremes leading to a manic stage and then to the depressed state of the Bipolar. We may avoid using “all or nothing” statements to depress ourselves by becoming less rigid in our thinking and assessing whether they are true. This ‘cognitive’ strategy aids you in recognising what you’re doing and challenging your erroneous impressions.


Bipolar disorder is a serious mental health illness characterized by mood swings, energy levels, and focus problems, among other symptoms. It has the potential to severely impair a person’s life. Overall, Bipolar Disorder can cause a lot of problems. It has an impact on how you live your life, how you interact with others, and how your brain and mental health are affected. Living with this illness is not to be taken lightly, since it can have serious consequences for the human body and mind. People with bipolar disorder must cope with the inability to do everything they desire and the inability to communicate effectively with others. They must also contend with the creatures that reside inside their heads, as they are unable to combat the depression periods that they do experience.

The diagnosis and treatment of bipolar disorder can be complicated. These difficulties highlight the significance of teamwork among medical and behavioural health experts who treat people with co-occurring disorders. You should be a mental health professional rather than a medical provider, therefore behavioural health professionals may be the first to notice new symptoms, medication side effects, or other issues that require medical treatment. Integrated treatment, a collaboration between experts and you, and attention to diverse areas of recovery can all help with co-occurring disorder management.



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