How Can Equine Therapy Help Treat Symptoms Associated With Bipolar Disorder?

Living with untreated bipolar disorder can be frustrating for many individuals. Bipolar disorder involves a variety of symptoms including impulsive behaviors and erratic mood swings. Many areas of a person’s life can be disrupted if they don’t seek professional care. Having professional help is imperative, as it can be confusing to manage the symptoms of bipolar disorder alone.

Everyone deals with mental and emotional difficulties in their own way. For instance, an individual may find temporary relief by using substances. However, substance use will ultimately worsen symptoms. Finding professional help for bipolar disorder is a more productive path forward. One therapy that has been beneficial for those with bipolar disorder is equine therapy. Equine therapy with 12 South Recovery can help individuals with bipolar disorder develop self-control and live a mentally stable lifestyle.

What Is Bipolar Disorder?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), bipolar disorder can be defined by extreme shifts in energy, physical activity, ability to focus, and overall mood. A person’s mood shifts from a state of depression to a state called “mania.” When someone is in a state of mania, they exhibit high energy and impulsive behaviors. Due to these problematic symptoms, an individual may find it challenging to complete daily tasks.

A person can have three different types of bipolar disorder. These include bipolar I, bipolar II, and cyclothymic disorder. The onset of bipolar disorder is typically in the late teen years or during an individual’s early adulthood. Bipolar disorder requires lifelong treatment in order to manage problematic symptoms and improve one’s quality of life.

Impulsive Symptoms Related to Bipolar Disorder

Impulsivity is a symptom that can seem shocking for some individuals. Taking action in an unplanned way without thinking it through can have serious consequences. After taking impulsive actions, a person may experience intense feelings of guilt and depressive thoughts. Impulsivity can also disrupt relationships, making it hard to maintain or keep them. Untreated bipolar disorder can also cause academic issues and problems in the workplace. 

According to the journal Brain Sciences, impulsivity is known to be the primary characteristic of bipolar mania. Bipolar mania is linked with an increased risk of functional impairment, an increased number of hospitalizations, and a higher risk of suicide. Signs and symptoms related to impulsivity may include:

  • Excessive spending
  • Promiscuous behavior
  • Binge eating
  • Emotional outbursts
  • Oversharing
  • Suddenly changing plans
  • Aggressive behaviors
  • Self-harm

What Is Equine Therapy?

According to the journal Nursing Open, equine therapy is also called equine-assisted therapy or horse therapy. Equine-assisted therapy has been used since the second century. This therapeutic connection with horses can enhance mental and emotional healing for those with bipolar disorder.

Equine-assisted therapy is a prescribed medical treatment for individuals with physical, cognitive, social, and psychological challenges such as bipolar disorder. The activities involved with equine-assisted therapy can promote occupational, physical, and emotional growth for individuals facing difficulty with a myriad of impulsive behaviors related to bipolar disorder. This therapeutic intervention can be especially helpful for those who are facing challenges with self-control issues, impulsivity, and extreme agitation.

Benefits of Equine Therapy for Mental Health

As stated in the aforementioned journal, Nursing Open, equine therapy is a planned intervention intended to improve an individual’s state of mental health. Grooming, riding, and saddling a horse can be a very positive, calming, and structuring experience for many individuals. Some participants have shown a significant decrease in stress hormones due to the positive interaction with the horses. 

Equine therapy can provide the following benefits:

  • Social interaction
  • Companionship
  • Reduced emotional blunting
  • Help with attachment problems
  • Assistance in creating personal boundaries
  • Increased self-esteem
  • An opportunity for self-reflection
  • The development of metacognition
  • Reduced anxiety
  • Better impulse control
  • Improved problem-solving strategies
  • Enhanced communication skills
  • Greater trust in others and life

Moving Forward With Equine Therapy at 12 South Recovery

Surrendering to addiction or mental health treatment can sometimes be a difficult decision. Many individuals are hesitant to take this step. For those who do decide to pursue treatment, prescription medication, psychotherapy, and non-holistic approaches are often the first choices. Aside from specific psychiatric requirements, equine therapy with 12 South Recovery can be an effective complementary treatment option. 

12 South Recovery’s mental health care team will work patiently to develop an individualized treatment plan to address each individual’s unique concerns. This tailored approach can be highly beneficial for those who need to address impulsive behaviors and other symptoms of bipolar disorder specifically. Equine therapy with 12 South Recovery can be an enjoyable, less intimidating experience for those who are interested in treatments that involve less pressure.

The path to recovery can be frustrating. Recovery can be different for everyone as not everybody faces problems with the same symptoms related to bipolar disorder. The same treatment options are not always effective for everyone. Exploring different avenues, such as participating in equine therapy, just may provide hope and healing.

Battling bipolar symptoms, especially impulsivity, can be difficult without help. Surrendering to professional care with 12 South Recovery can be a life-changing experience. Clients in our addiction and/or mental health treatment programs benefit from a variety of therapy techniques, one of them being equine therapy. Our team understands that living with a mental illness such as bipolar disorder can drastically impact all aspects of an individual’s daily life. As a licensed and Joint Commission-accredited mental health treatment center, 12 South Recovery is a leader in Orange County mental health treatment. If you or a loved one need emotional and professional support, call 12 South Recovery at (888) 830-8374 to learn more about how we can help. 

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