Bipolar disorder. The scary “boogeyman” of psychiatric illnesses along with schizophrenia and autism.
Boogeyman, because, these diagnoses are made using a superficial symptomatic approach, without proper understanding of the underlying root causes.
In mainstream psychiatry, all that is offered as treatment is psycho-pharmaceuticals – a slew of them – from mood stabilizers to anti-psychotics to antidepressants to benzos and even to stimulants. With the characteristic results of increased episodes, more illness and more disability.
Not to mention that the prevalence of Bipolar disorder has steadily increased over the years.
Bipolar Prevalence Rates Continue to Rise
In 1955, there were only 2400 first admissions for bipolar illness in all of the U.S. (reference 1). My own personal experience is that when I was in psychiatric residency in India in the late 1990’s, the US prevalence for Bipolar disorder was 0.9 to 1.0. By the late 2000’s I began to see the prevalence rates creeping up not just in adults but also in children and adolescents. The most recent prevalence rates for bipolar disorder are at 2.8%. (reference 2).
Increased recognition and expanding diagnostic categories may account for some of the increased prevalence but we have to dig deeper to evaluate this phenomenon.
The disease itself seems to have morphed into something more sinister.
A 1931 study of first episode (of mania) bipolar patients admitted to NY state mental hospitals never suffered a second attack over an 11-year follow-up period and only 20% suffered 3 or more episodes (reference 3). A long term follow-up study of more than 30 years published in 1979, which followed Bipolar patients admitted to a psychiatric hospital between 1935 and 1944; found that nearly 70% had good outcomes (reference 4).
But today – rapid cycling, more episodes, poor inter-episode recovery, cognitive deficits, and more disability is the rule rather than the exception.
But What Has Changed?
An obvious answer is the rampant use of antidepressants in today’s psychiatric practice. This idea has been explored thoroughly and there is no doubt that the indiscriminate use of antidepressants for first episode depression patients in vulnerable individuals can induce mania and convert them to bipolar patients (references 5, 6). Sometimes, antidepressant discontinuation has also resulted in mania (reference 7). Per my experience and understanding, this vulnerability is most often associated with MTHFR gene polymorphisms which impair our detoxification abilities.
Besides antidepressants, the use of psychotropic drugs – illicit and prescribed (stimulants, MJ, cocaine, other psychedelics and hallucinogens) are a major factor towards inducing mania and bipolar syndromes. So, are these not primarily drug induced states and not Bipolar? This distinction is important because the treatment focus and resultant outcomes can be very different (references 8, 9, 10).
One Patient’s Remarkable Recovery from Bipolar
In this young woman’s situation described below, there was another important contributor to her overall physiological imbalance – a surgery she underwent for which general anesthetic agents were used. One of the first signs of toxicity was that within a month of the surgery, she became amenorrheic (complete cessation of menstrual periods) which lasted for more than a year. Mood episodes began 6 months after the surgery.
This combination of her presentation indicated the toxicity root cause when I first met with her and evaluated her. My hypothesis was that her toxicity was a result of the anesthetic agent, her drug use and the severe stress she was experiencing.
Which is why she was recommended Ayurvedic detox (Panchakarma) right at the beginning, even when she had mania. We knew we were on the right track, when her periods resumed as soon as she completed the Panchakarma sessions; and we saw her emerge out of the mania.
From then on, it was her personal journey of self-discovery, self-alignment, self-love; offered through the medium of a consistent, compassionate therapeutic relationship. Not only have we seen her blossom as a young woman, but also academically and in every sphere of her life. Even an improvement in the dyslexia that was diagnosed in childhood! We certainly did not expect that.
Once again, it demonstrates that this idea about our brains, “function lost is lost forever,” is not true. And we did not have to do anything different or separately for the dyslexia. All we did was to recommend a holistic approach to bring her physiology, mind, body and soul; into balance.
She has overcome her disease but most importantly the label assigned to her!
Please read on to see her perspective on her journey.
- C. Silverman, The epidemiology of Depression (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1968), 139.
- G. Winokur, Manic Depressive illness (St. Louis: The C. V. Mosby company, 1969), 19.
“I have been in Dr. Tummala’s care since 2017. I started to experience anxiety when I was 15 years old, right around the same time I began to drink alcohol. Little did I know, I had a genetic detoxing disorder (MTHFR polymorphism) that provided an extra challenge for my body to detoxify from drinking, drug use, and anesthesia from a past surgery. In my final year of high school, I experienced PTSD from a sexually and emotionally abusive relationship, my parents divorced, and my uncle passed away. I was lost, anxious, and paralyzed with fear about the uncertainty of my future.
After my first semester at a top 15 University, my anxiety, depression, and insomnia became debilitating, and I had to take a medical leave of absence. I traveled to Fiji for 45 days, where I regularly drank cava. Near the end of the trip, the daily ritual of cava drinking sparked abrupt psychosis and mania. I was hospitalized in a foreign country, diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and very unwell.
When I returned home, I was lucky enough to begin working with Doctor Tummala. She guided me through an intensive Ayurvedic detox (panchakarma) which helped rid my body of toxic buildup from drugs, drinking, environmental pollutions, anesthesia, etc. The detox helped alleviate my psychosis and expedited my healing process. Dr. Tummala used an integrative care approach to treat my symptoms (psychosis and mania) with Western medicine and the cause (MTHFR polymorphism) with Ayurvedic medicine. In conjunction with residential trauma therapy, this effort laid the groundwork for the healthy lifestyle I live today.
I implemented significant lifestyle changes by quitting drugs, minimizing drinking, incorporating a whole foods-based anti-inflammatory diet, and maintaining a regular sleep schedule. Additionally, I began practicing healthy daily rituals, including exercise, meditation, and journaling. Through these efforts, I am proud to say that I live a fulfilled, happy, and stable life. It has been three years since I have needed to take antipsychotics/mood stabilizers. After years of remission, Doctor Tummala has corrected my misdiagnosis of bipolar disorder following the success of her integrative treatment approach.
I am happier than I have ever been. I have a positive relationship with myself, my family members, and my friends (many of whom have since seen Dr. Tummala for various mental health issues and achieved remarkable results). I am graduating from a top 15 University this spring. My dyslexia (which I have been struggling with since grade school) has improved by 80-90%. I am free from the chains of pharmaceutical drugs and their terrible side effects (weight gain, brain fog, headaches, etc.). I have very little anxiety. I have confidence, self-love, and enormous gratitude for my journey.
I am eternally thankful for Dr. Tummala. She undoubtedly saved my life on multiple occasions and cured a disease deemed incurable by the masses. Dr. Tummala’s practice is informed by empirical, groundbreaking research. She has taken a stand against our broken health care system that focuses on treating symptoms, pledges allegiance to pharmaceutical companies, ignores looking for long-term cures, and refuses to treat the underlying causes for mental illness.
My success has encouraged members of my inner circle to work with Dr. Tummala. They, too, have weened-off a cocktail of mental health drugs and now practice a healthy, sustainable, and meaningful lifestyle.
I am proud of my success and the ability to care for myself through informed decision-making. More-so, I am humbled to have guided others to seek Dr. Tummala’s help when all avenues appeared dark and hopeless. Dr. Tummala challenged me to leave parts of my old lifestyle and identity behind. This change opened the door to reconnect with my life purpose, find contentment, practice gratitude, and achieve a lasting state of happiness.
I wish every person experiencing mental illness could receive the gift of working with Dr. Tummala. She provides healing, and more importantly, hope for a better life.
We would be a healthier nation if more psychiatrists were open-minded to an integrative approach to psychological care. If you or a loved one feels discouraged by mainstream mental illness treatment, please consider working with Dr. Tummala. She will set your path towards genuine happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.”