If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder, or suspect that you might have it, you know the signs:
- Mood swings
- Rapid cycling of emotions
- Difficulty focusing
- Impulsive behavior that’s difficult to control
- Damaged relationships
- Problems at work and school
- Feeling like you can never relax
Neurofeedback can help
Neurofeedback training helps strengthen and support the brain to more easily maintain a stable state. By exercising your brain in a certain way, your brain learns to better regulate itself. Better regulation means better emotional control, healthier reactions, and more balance with less effort.
Clients we’ve worked with who’ve been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder frequently report less susceptibility to mood swings, increased ability to focus, decreased anger, and the feeling that they can trust themselves to respond appropriately again.
One of our clients who had trouble relaxing told us after the first minute of her first neurofeedback session that she was starting to feel more relaxed. After 20 minutes she said, “I can’t believe how calm I am.” Over time, she was able to much more easily manage her bi-polar symptoms and calm herself. This woman’s experience is not atypical. The neurofeedback technology allowed her brain to find a more stable point, and with consistent training her brain settled into a steadier, healthier pattern.
Bi-polar disorder and medications
While medications can serve a useful role in helping people suffering from the symptoms of bi-polar disorder, there are drawbacks. (1) There’s a trial-and-error phase that takes weeks to determine whether a particular medication works; (2) Some people don’t respond to these meds well; (3) There can be unpleasant side effects that can lead to additional medications or discontinued use; (4) The patient can build up a tolerance leading to increased dosages or switches to alternate medications with a new trial-and-error period; (5) The brain doesn’t learn on its own to cope or regulate itself.
Neurofeedback increases the brain’s stability, and some of our clients are able to safely taper off their medication as their brain functioning becomes more even.
Note: We do not recommend clients reduce or stop their medication without their doctor’s supervision. For those who wish to reduce their medications as they train with us, we will work with their doctors to help them do so.
Research on neurofeedback and bi-polar disorder has been limited, but what research has been done has shown that neurofeedback training can help those with bi-polar disorder function more easily by decreasing their symptoms as the brain rewires itself in a healthier, more positive and stable way.
Among that research was work conducted by clinical psychologist Ed Hamlin, Ph.D, a neuropsychologist at the Pisgah Institute in North Carolina. He headed an ongoing study with 40-plus patients diagnosed with bi-polar disorder, many with repeated hospitalizations. After undergoing a series of neurofeedback sessions, he observed that some patients who had been on medications for 20 years were able to become medication-free, while many others were able to reduce their medication. Those patients who remained on medication at reduced levels stated they felt much better and no longer had the “flat” feeling medication can induce.
The patients in this study reported increased independence, better ability to control themselves, improved relationships, better performance and functioning at work and school, and a dramatic reduction in hospitalizations.