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Bipolar and Meditation

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Bipolar and Meditation

Postby person1495 » Wed Apr 15, 2020 3:55 am

Hi. I'm interested in any connections between meditation and bipolar disorder, both out of curiosity and practical concern.

I've been diagnosed with Bipolar 1 Disorder with psychotic features after a manic episode. I recently got a meditation app called Waking Up and started doing the guided meditation as well as listening to some of the theory behind the practice included in the app. The decision to start meditating was due both to curiosity as well as the potential therapeutic effects. The possible negative effects of meditation, particularly for someone with a mental illness, and uncanny parallels between mania and meditation, has been a concern though.

While I think mania is often described as a sort of antithesis to mindfulness, a time in which you are entirely unmindful of your own behavior, I've noticed similarities between the two. (Perhaps because I have just started, though, this is more from hearing about meditation as opposed to practicing it). The symptom of a rush of ideas and creativity which is often associated with bipolar I generally viewed as an increased awareness of my own thoughts as they came, allowing me to extract them out rather than being clouded by them. I also had a sense that there was a direct connection between my thoughts and my actions without anything in the way, namely self doubt. This caused the reckless behavior associated with bipolar and put the sense of self-agency into question. And despite the idea that mania is about feeling good, a major concern for me was a loss in emotion altogether, and with it happiness, as my emotions become things which I can consciously control. Apparently there is a similar concern with meditation. The sense of spiritual revelation further suggests a connection.

I have read that meditation can be of extreme value to people with bipolar, and that it can serve a real risk, so there seems to be conclusions made on both sides. To clarify, so far I have found it beneficial, calming if nothing else, and I don't have any sense of relapsing. I am curious, however, of people's opinions on this.
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Re: Bipolar and Meditation

Postby quietgirl2538 » Wed Apr 22, 2020 7:05 pm

I don't meditate, actually. I pray. I'm Catholic. Maybe it's similar. It gives me positive thoughts. That's the benefit I see form that.

I take lots of meds. For bipolar, anxiety, sleeplessness, diabetes, cholesterol, I'm not sure what else. It's not horrible even though it does sound like it is. I am content, happy, and living a fulfilling life. Meditation can serve to improve how we feel about life and our outlook to it in a positive note. That's just my opinion.

It's been so long since I've been really sick such as mania that went out of control, or depression that wouldn't go away. My mood swings are very short and mostly aren't so bad. A few times they dived so low or the mania was there. But overall, I would have to look into the far off past to recall my bad times with the disorder.
“There’s an Asian expression that ‘a burden shared is halved.’"

Bipolar I
ADD (inattentive kind)
*I take loads of meds, but they keep me stable
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Re: Bipolar and Meditation

Postby voracious_lemon » Fri Apr 24, 2020 10:25 pm

Meditation never really did much for me, and I would always get restless and feel the need to move so I stopped. I've never heard of it causing mania though so I think you'd be safe in that regard.
All I saw was the Devil's soul
And it looked a helluva lot like my own
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Re: Bipolar and Meditation

Postby person1495 » Sun Apr 26, 2020 3:42 pm

There doesn't seem to be much research on it, but a quick search found one paper indicating a connection (I imagine there's others though):
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/312144733_Psychotic_mania_induced_by_diffuse_meditation
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Re: Bipolar and Meditation

Postby zab32452 » Wed Jun 17, 2020 6:19 pm

Hmm.. that sounds horrible of course. But I don't think mindfulness will systematically trigger mania. Even though it may be correct that a negative effects associated with mindfulness meditation practice that were reported included a manic episode, these side effects have not been reported in any systematic way, and are really underinvestigated. There is not much known about how mindfulness works, in spite of the fact that there are lots of clinical studies. Recently people have argued that mindfulness is still somewhat in an experimental stage (for example, Dimidjian and Segal in their 2015 article "Prospects for a Clinical Science of Mindfulness-Based Intervention"). There seems to be even much less known about how such pernicious effects come about and in which way they are related to which part or mechanism of mindfulness.

That said, mindfulness has shown strong effects for depressive episodes on lots of occasions during research in the past decade, and some specialists also treat people with bipolar disorder using therapies based on,or including, mindfulness (mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for bipolar disorder).

A friend of mine with bipolar II has been helped a lot by doing mindfulness practices. She explained to me how it gave her better ways of coping with several things that were bothering her, like depressing thoughts, feelings of emptiness and boredom. She also started to get better at recognizing when she was falling into a depressive episode or a hypomanic one, and generally she feels she has more ease in understanding her own mind and is better able to reflect before reacting impulsively, she calls this responding instead of reacting. And she is way better at paying attention to one thing at a time, concentrating, reading etc. Many people think mindfulness is a cure in itself, or a panacea for all modern evils and so forth. But my friend explained to me that it's more like a tool or technique, and it can make things get better or worse depending on how you use it and how ready you are for it. She says if you have deep issues, meditating will show you how bad they are which can be frightening.
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