Getting Down When You Are Too High
There was a time when people died from feeling too good. The brain burns 25% of a person’s calories. The racing thoughts and lack of desire for food that occurs during manic episodes made it impossible to provide enough nutrients to keep the body alive. Two chemical messengers are responsible for this condition:
CHANGING THE CHEMISTRY OF MANIA
In 1949, an amazing discovery was made that lithium salts could calm a wildly racing mind. Due to safety concerns, its usage was not allowed in the United States until the 1970s. Currently, lithium prevents reoccurrence of mania in 70% of all cases. It may reduce brain excitability by slowing down transmission of impulses along and between nerves and by boosting serotonin. Lithium can take two weeks to have an impact and may not be effective with rapid cycling moods. Therefore, other options are sometimes used:
Anticonvulsants and lithium require careful monitoring. Blood levels need to be high enough to be therapeutic without producing toxic reactions. Although some people will initially experience side effects, these usually disappear within a month. Any inconvenience from taking these medications is far less disruptive to careers, finances, relationships, and safety than symptoms of mania!
THE BLESSING OF HYPOMANIA
People who are blessed with mild elevations in mood, or hypomania, have an inexhaustible supply of energy, enabling them to live adventurous, successful lives. However, they may be underreactive to internal stimuli and need excitement and even danger to feel alive. Periods of calm or low anxiety can feel intolerable. Serious problems happen when they engage in high-risk behavior or “overcharge” their minds with constant activity. The following ways of modifying habits can sometimes help manage high periods without medication:
If you are not able to slow down with these strategies, do not blame yourself! Medication can be essential to stop the runaway locomotive of your mind. Get help from your doctor immediately!
For further information, see The Depression Workbook by Mary Ellen Copeland (New Harbinger Publications, 1992) and Mastering Your Moods by Kinder (Simon & Schuster, 1995).
See Trance-Formation in Everyday Life by Kate Cohen-Posey (Leighton’s Sales Co) to teach yourself to meditate. 877.956.2998 or www.psych-assist.