I found this article somewhere online and it caught my eye because it said “alternative” and while skeptical at first, there was something intriguing about it. seems kind of new-agey, but the fact that they even recognized that and called themselves out, I appreciated. The more I dug into it, the more I realized it wasn’t that far off from traditional therapy with it having similar active ingredients. This article highlights a new type of treatment or support network for those with Bipolar Disorder. There’s a lot of confusion surrounding Bipolar Disorder, which used to be called Manic Depressive Disorder. What is it? How does it show up? I can tell you from a personal experience of a friend being diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder that it can be very confusing at first not knowing what it is and how to treat it. As I soon found out, a big aspect of treatment is through medications and getting a person stabilized on the right medication that works for them. But another huge piece is the social support system.
If you were to ask my friend about the most crucial aspect that has helped her personally get through, she would say her friends and family. Family-focused therapy for Bipolar Disorder has been shown to be effective in treatment because it provides family and friends an opportunity to understand the disease and triggers associated with it. This type of treatment has a few main goals, including: accepting the notion of vulnerability to future mood episodes and dependency on medication, distinguishing between a patient’s personality and their bipolar disorder, recognizing and learning to cope with stressful life events that trigger recurrences of bipolar disorder and reestablishing functional relationships after a mood episode.
At the core of this kind of treatment is social support and having people understand the disorder – not just on a general level, but also on an individual level on how it impacts the patient specifically. Well…one organization has taken this message and has tried to start incorporating it in a different way. They’re called Mad Pride. Here are some highlights from the article posted at the top of this post.
The movement’s goals: to redefine what it means to be sick for the 45.6 million American adults living with mental illness; develop a more collaborative treatment process between doctors and patients; make the public less fearful of people labeled mentally ill; and most important, destigmatize mental disorders for those who are diagnosed.
Here are some more highlights:
The Mad Pride approach is so different from traditional psychiatric care,” says Carla Rabinowitz, 49, a community organizer for a mental health nonprofit in New York City, who says leading peer groups helped her move past the stigma of living with bipolar disorder. “You see people who are thriving, people who are struggling. You see what you need to do to keep yourself going.
Meetings occur in cities throughout the country. The tools used in this type of treatment helps develop a stronger support network to help identify triggers.
New members are often encouraged to create wellness maps, which detail what they’re like when they’re well—and when they’re not—and what friends can do to help…the wellness maps have proved invaluable to recovery. If she has stopped eating (a warning sign of mania), an Icarus member will step in and take her grocery shopping. If stress triggers her depression, another member will drag her out for a hike.
As you can see there are a lot of similarities between this and more traditional therapy in that they both focus on creating more understanding of the disorder and support for those with it. It may not be the only tool that should be used in treating Bipolar disorder, but it could be a good supplement at least and possibly something to look into if you or someone you know is needing/seeking help. If this is something that you’re interested in or know someone with Bipolar Disorder, let them know. Don’t hesitate.
Rubin Khoddam, Clinical Psychology PhD student at University of Southern California, founder of Psych Connection.
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