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Can Imagery help a bipolar person?

16 Aug
A concerned nephew asks if guided imagery can help his beloved uncle, who struggles with bipolar illness (manic depressive disorder) and has episodes that wreak havoc on his life and get him off track for months..
My uncle is bipolar and struggles with his moods and manicky episodes. They ruin his life and it takes him months to get back on track. He’s lost jobs and relationships. We all love him a lot and hate to watch him go through these difficult periods and their after-effects. Would guided imagery help him?
Neal N.

Dear Neal,
If your uncle began practicing with imagery during the more balanced times between episodes, it’s possible that he could benefit nicely from imagery, along with doing other things, such as being evaluated for medication, getting counseling, taking care with his diet, to avoid foods that could set him off, and doing regular exercise.

But trying to use imagery when he is in the middle of a full-blown, manic episode is a little bit like trying to put out a fire with a thimble of water. It’s too gentle a technique to make a dent on such a dramatic imbalance.

But if he builds up his self-regulation skills during his good times, it can definitely help keep him in balance, and stave off or tone down the periods when he starts cycling.

Good luck and I wish you both well.

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award