Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that causes extreme shifts in mood, energy, sleep, and behavior. The disorder is defined by oscillating periods of over and under arousal between emotional highs (mania/hypomania) and lows (depression). Having been diagnosed in 2012, I’ve been looking to explore the physiology of my bipolar brain. Electroencephalogram technology has allowed me to do just that. In collaboration with my doctor, I’ve been studying patterns in brainwave frequency in hopes of applying the findings to neurofeedback therapy, a type of treatment aims to train patients in self-regulation of their brain functions - the goal being to learn to pull yourself our of a depressed or manic state. Being a long-term condition, bipolar disorder is most commonly treated with medication and psychotherapy. In completing this project, I hope to see if brainwave therapy is a viable alternative or aid to the treatment of this debilitating disease.
Goals, accomplishments, challenges, what I'll leave behind:
It took a while, well, almost the entire school year to settle on a project I was truly passionate about. Starting off with independent environmental science, I learned that plowing through a textbook can never truly make up for the advantages of being in a classroom surrounding by conversations and a dynamic composed of students of several distinct backgrounds. Next was Project Green Challenge. It was a good experience for me, I think, to organize and write on sustainability topics everyday throughout October. Finally, I found my place in the Energy Lab projects delving into my own brain. It took a while to experiment and decide on which EEG headset to use, but I'm glad I was able to finish off my senior year with something so meaningful and personal to me.
It might not be feasible to pass on the study of this particular disorder to a lower classman, but maybe what I'll leave behind is the idea of exploring the brainwaves of those with other mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression, ADHD, and OCD -- disorders that have become more prominent in today's society and will benefit from any further research we can manage to supply.
Thank you Dr. Bill for your constant support and for making available to all of us the countless opportunities the Energy Lab has to offer.