Healing From Bipolar Disorder at the Cellular Level

Addiction Recovery Publishing July 6, 2024

Healing From Bipolar Disorder at the Cellular Level

Bipolar disorder is one of the most prevalent mental illnesses affecting people today. According to the peer-reviewed journal Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology, “Epidemiological studies have suggested a lifetime prevalence of around 1% for bipolar type I in the general population. A large cross-sectional survey of 11 countries found the overall lifetime prevalence of bipolar spectrum disorders was 2.4%, with a prevalence of 0.6% for bipolar type I and 0.4% for bipolar type II.” The good news is that bipolar disorder is not only manageable; it can be healed at the cellular level.

Healing at the Cellular Level

Many recovery centers and treatment facilities offer the opportunity to recover. However, many of them don’t fully fulfill that commitment. This is because they only focus on “fixing” the diagnosis and not the person behind it.

The founding father of Western medicine, Hippocrates, said, “It’s far more important to know what person the disease has than what disease the person has.” This is where healing at the cellular level starts. It starts with a comprehensive assessment and intake process. This allows the recovery professionals to build a roadmap toward that essential cellular-level healing.

Healing at the cellular level is a holistic approach. This does not mean that it only uses holistic healing methods like yoga or meditation (though those can be essential). “Holistic” means to treat all parts of the whole. So healing at the cellular level means to treat the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual parts of “the Self.”

Healing at the cellular level also has to do with getting to the underlying issues of the negative cognitions (thoughts), emotions (feelings), and actions (behaviors) that one is struggling with. This is especially vital for those struggling with mental illness.

Healing From Mental Illness at the Cellular Level

It is important to remember that mental illness is a disease. Also, it is a disease that affects millions of people around the world. 

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), “In 2021, there were an estimated 57.8 million adults aged 18 or older in the United States with AMI. This number represented 22.8% of all U.S. adults.” Also, “The prevalence of AMI was higher among females (27.2%) than males (18.1%)” and “Young adults aged 18-25 years had the highest prevalence of AMI (33.7%) compared to adults aged 26-49 years (28.1%) and aged 50 and older (15.0%).” This not only shows the high prevalence of mental illness but also how it affects all populations of people.

To heal from mental illness at the cellular level requires individualized and comprehensive mental health care. This means that a recovery plan is tailor-made for the individual, and it offers a myriad of means, methods, and modalities for healing. A multi-angled approach is the best way to ensure that “all parts of the whole” are addressed and ultimately healed. This includes those struggling with bipolar disorder.

Healing From Bipolar Disorder at the Cellular Level

Many people have heard the term bipolar disorder, yet they are unfamiliar with what exactly it entails. According to the peer-reviewed thesis, Bipolar Disorder, by Doctors Jain and Mitra, “Bipolar disorder, also known as bipolar affective disorder, is one of the top 10 leading causes of disability worldwide. Bipolar disorder is characterized by chronically occurring episodes of mania or hypomania alternating with depression and is often misdiagnosed initially. Treatment involves pharmacotherapy and psychosocial interventions, but mood relapse and incomplete response occur, particularly with depression.”

This last focus on treatment is only the beginning of healing from bipolar disorder at the cellular level. Yes, bipolar disorder generally requires psychotherapy and medication, but to heal at the cellular level, it also requires more focused treatment, including experiential and holistic means. However, before any treatment can occur, it is first critical to be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder.

The Signs and Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

While there are many types of bipolar disorder (which will be discussed shortly) that all have unique characteristics, there are some signs and symptoms that are more universal. The following are just a few of those signs and symptoms:

  • Being overly depressed, followed by periods of uncontrollable elation (mania)
  • Engaging in risky behavior
  • Not being able to sit still
  • Feeling nervous or anxious
  • Having trouble sleeping followed by prolonged periods of sleep
  • Experiencing delusions of grandeur
  • Self-harming
  • Using alcohol and substances as coping mechanisms
  • Changes in eating patterns
  • Experiencing audible and visual hallucinations
  • Having suicidal ideations

As one can see, these are not insignificant issues, and they should be addressed as soon as possible. Doing so could be the difference between short-term side effects and long-term consequences. 

The Different Types of Bipolar Disorder

When addressing bipolar disorder, it is important to understand that bipolar disorder is not a monolith. There are many types of bipolar disorder. These include bipolar I disorder, bipolar II disorder, cyclothymic disorder, and other “related,” “specified,” and “unspecified” bipolar disorders.

Understanding Bipolar I Disorder

Bipolar I disorder is most likely the version of the disorder that most people think of when they think of the illness. This is the version of the disorder in which the mania is the most pronounced part. However, the biggest difference between bipolar I and bipolar II disorder is how severe the depression may be. 

According to the peer-reviewed journal Psychiatry (Edgmont), “Bipolar disorder should always be considered in the differential diagnosis of patients with depression, as 3.9 percent of patients converted to bipolar I disorder and 8.6 percent converted to bipolar II disorder upon follow-up over 2 to 11 years. Prospective predictors of bipolar I disorder were acute onset of depression, the severity of the depressive episode, and psychosis, while predictors of bipolar II disorder included mood lability, higher rates of substance abuse, disruption of psychosocial functioning, and racing thoughts.” While bipolar I and bipolar II disorder both have periods of depression, bipolar II has periods of “hypomania” rather than mania.

Understanding Bipolar II Disorder

People with bipolar II tend to experience deeper bouts of depression than those with bipolar I disorder. These bouts of depression are often more severe and last for extended periods.

Bipolar II disorder was long misdiagnosed. According to the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, “The inclusion of bipolar II disorder as a subtype of bipolar illness in the DSM-IV is probably, from a clinical perspective, the most important change in the classification of mental disorders over the past 25 years…While it is true that, originally, the description of what we know today as bipolar II disorder was focused on hospitalized depressed patients with a history of hypomania, we know now that most bipolar II patients are never hospitalized but have very frequent depressive and hypomanic episodes that carry enormous morbidity and mortality.”

Many people feel that bipolar II disorder is less severe than bipolar I disorder because the manic episodes are less severe. However, it is important to remember that mental illness is relative, and people experiencing bipolar II disorder are in just as much pain as those with other diagnoses. The same is true with cyclothymic disorder.

Understanding Cyclothymic Disorder

Cyclothymic disorder (also known as cyclothymia) is a type of bipolar disorder that does not meet the diagnostic criteria of either bipolar I or bipolar II disorder. Again, this does not mean that it should be minimized; it simply means that there are slight variations in its diagnosis.

According to the peer-reviewed thesis, Cyclothymic Disorder, by Doctors Bielecki and Gupta, “Cyclothymia is a primary mood disorder that is connotated with great ambiguity and controversy. The primacy of the disorder is inherently nebulous as it shares diagnostic features with a multiplicity of disorders. Cyclothymia is characterized by episodes consisting of hypomanic and depressive symptoms that do not meet the full criteria for bipolar or major depressive disorder.” Regardless of which type of bipolar disorder one is struggling with, it is important to treat it as soon as possible. The good news is that there are many effective treatments.

How to Comprehensively Treat Bipolar Disorder

As previously mentioned, the key to healing at the cellular level is to utilize a comprehensive recovery approach. The same is true with all types of bipolar disorder.

Generally, the best way to treat bipolar disorder is to first create a foundation of evidence-based modalities. These include psychotherapy, like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), and pharmacology, like the use of mood stabilizers and antidepressants.

Treating Bipolar Disorder With Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy is the primary treatment for bipolar disorder as it has the longest and most established record of efficacy. It is also one of the best companions to essential pharmacology.

According to the Journal of Life Long Learning in Psychiatry, “Over the past few decades, there has been increasing attention to the development of bipolar disorder-specific psychotherapies. In part, this resurgence is related to disappointingly low remission and recovery rates, despite more pharmacotherapy options and growing efforts to personalize treatment… A comprehensive treatment approach that includes pharmacotherapy and an evidence-based psychotherapy (EBP) may provide the strongest foundation for increasing self-efficacy, reducing symptoms and recurrences, and restoring functioning and quality of life.” These therapies include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).

Bipolar Disorder and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT is one of the most commonly used psychotherapies today. The reason is that it has long been shown to be effective at treating many different kinds of mental illnesses and addictions. This includes all types of bipolar disorders.

CBT works to get to the aforementioned underlying issues of bipolar disorder. According to Cognitive Therapy and Research, “Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) refers to a class of interventions that share the basic premise that mental disorders and psychological distress are maintained by cognitive factors. The core premise of this treatment approach, as pioneered by Beck (1970) and Ellis (1962), holds that maladaptive cognitions contribute to the maintenance of emotional distress and behavioral problems. According to Beck’s model, these maladaptive cognitions include general beliefs, or schemas, about the world, the self, and the future, giving rise to specific and automatic thoughts in particular situations.”

Essentially, CBT helps to bring the root/core causes of one’s issues up to the surface so they can be addressed, worked through, and, ultimately, managed. However, CBT is not the only way to treat bipolar disorder. There are also experiential types of therapy that can be highly effective.

Treating Bipolar Disorder With Experiential Therapy

Experiential therapy is very much as its name implies. It is a therapy that works via active or creative experiences rather than through traditional “talk” therapies. The most well-known version of experiential therapy is probably art therapy, but there are many other types.

For example, there are other forms of creative experiential therapies like music therapy, dance therapy, and improv therapy. Then there are more active forms of experiential therapy like surf therapy and nature immersion therapy.

Bipolar Disorder and Nature Immersion Therapy

There is little argument that interacting with nature has many health benefits. According to the National Park Service, “5 minutes walking in nature improves mood, self-esteem, and relaxation. Frequent exposure to nature reduces anxiety and depression, while promoting a sense of well-being and fulfillment.” Also, “Physical activity in a green space can reduce stress and lower cortisol levels by 15%.” Now, this is just simply interacting with nature. Engaging with nature with a recovery professional offers even more benefits.

The benefits offered by nature immersion therapy can be helpful for any mental illness or addiction. This includes bipolar disorder. According to the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, “Besides improvements to physical and psychological well-being, exposure to natural environments has been shown to bring about positive impacts on cognitive functioning.” Also, “While cognitive restoration and physiological well-being are the prominent and renowned benefits of nature exposure, there is one important construct that is often overlooked in environmental psychology research studies – that is, the human-nature relationship; also known as connectedness to nature (CN).” This “connectedness to nature” can also be gained via surf therapy.

Bipolar Disorder and Surf Therapy

Surfing is an ideal way to recover. It is also one of the amazing and premier offerings here at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab. In fact, we have one of the best surf breaks on Hawaii’s Big Island, which is a mere 15-minute journey away.

The benefits of surf therapy are vast and varied. According to the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, “Carefully planned water activities tailored to the needs of the individual can contribute to correct psychosocial and cognitive development. The International Surf Therapy Organization summarizes the benefits of adequately indicated surf therapy as follows: improved physical health and mobility; improved mental health, including reduction of specific symptoms, such as posttraumatic stress and depression; improved well-being (strengthening of trust and confidence, encouragement of independence, resilience and protective coping strategies) and improved social skills.” Similar benefits can be gained via holistic healing methods like yoga.

Bipolar Disorder and Yoga

Yoga has been practiced for thousands of years. Originally it was strictly practiced for religious and/or spiritual purposes, but has since moved into the recovery realm. It can be particularly helpful for people struggling with bipolar disorder because it offers a sense of calm and balance.

Yoga offers a myriad of benefits. According to the International Journal of Yoga (IJOY), “Yoga therapy involves instruction in yogic practices and teachings to prevent reduce or alleviate structural, physiological, emotional and spiritual pain, suffering or limitations. Yogic practices enhance muscular strength and body flexibility, promote and improve respiratory and cardiovascular function, promote recovery from and treatment of addiction, reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and chronic pain, improve sleep patterns, and enhance overall well-being and quality of life.” When yoga, along with the other modalities mentioned, is utilized, the chances of successfully treating bipolar disorder go up exponentially.

Healing at the Cellular Level With Exclusive Hawaii Rehab

Here at Exclusive Hawaii Rehab, we believe in long-term success over short-term fixes. This is why we offer recovery plans that always have long-term goals in mind.

Bipolar disorder does not have to control one’s life. There is a solution, there is hope, and there is recovery. We can make it happen right here on the Hamakua Coast of Hawaii’s Big Island.

Many people in the U.S. currently struggle with bipolar disorder, including many people who have co-occurring bipolar disorder and alcohol and/or substance addiction. The good news is that the comprehensive recovery options offered by Exclusive Hawaii Rehab can help someone heal from their bipolar disorder at the cellular level. If you feel like you or a loved one are struggling with issues of addiction, mental illness, or both, we can help get you on the right road to long-term recovery right away. You don’t have to do this alone. For more information on bipolar disorder and how to best recover from it, please reach out to Exclusive Hawaii Rehab today at (808) 775-0200.