Image of a tiger on a merry go round.

Ride the Tiger Delivers the Emotion and Science of Bipolar Disorder

Tonight, Ride the Tiger: A Guide Through the Bipolar Brain, will air on PBS stations across America. I was able to view this documentary a couple of weeks ago and was very moved and impressed with the presentation.

I think what moved me the most about this one was the openness and courage the interviewees had in discussing their struggles. There wasn’t a lot of jargon, and I could relate to nearly every person sharing their deep dark secrets so many of us pretend don’t exist in our circles of family and friends. By brave individuals coming forward like this to talk about their medical issues, others can learn and help reduce the stigmas and prejudices involving all health problems, including mental health.

The film allows us to hear from quite a diverse group of successful people that are coping with the struggles and sometimes positive aspects of mania and depression in very different ways.

The viewer will see some of the research involving deep brain stimulation, ECT, genetics, drugs, optogenetics, family focused therapies and learn how brain mapping is helping to bring some of the cognitive fields together. Brain plasticity and the ability for the brain to rewire itself with exposure to nearly all stimuli is mentioned effectively. There are a few errors that will surely be noticed by some familiar with neuroscience research, but nothing that I think derails the messaging of the documentary.

This documentary covers very successful people, including researchers, discussing their own difficulties with mental health issues they and their family and friends have to balance. For some reason, many films I’ve viewed don’t tend to show researchers also dealing with the mental health issues they study. It is important to remember many people get into research, medicine and patient advocacy because they want to learn more and help someone they know, or themselves.

In addition to possibly allowing people to recognize an undiagnosed health issue, this show could help inspire more data sharing and collaboration between researchers, patients and loved ones all with invaluable insights into the very real health issues surrounding depression and mania.

Image shows a promo for the show.
Ride the Tiger will be airing on PBS nationwide on April 13th, 2016. Credit: ProSocial Consulting/Detroit Public Television.

Ride the Tiger really caused me to think about friends and family members that may need a lot more empathy and compassion in struggles that matched so many of the stories. When dealing with so many extreme cases often presented in the news, I tend to minimize the very real and common problems we all encounter in mental health.

Sometimes, it could be as simple as not eating or sleeping enough. Sometimes, we just need someone to listen. Sometimes, it is just sharing knowledge with others that may not have had an opportunity to learn it yet. Other times, more seemingly extreme measures are needed to help. This film does a great job of reminding us that we are all unique in our successes and struggles and that no one should be ashamed if any of us, or those we know, need help.

Ride the Tiger will air on PBS nationwide on April 13th, 2016 at 10/9c.

About this psychology news

Ride the Tiger is a one hour documentary by Detroit Public Television (DPTV).

Information about this documentary and review

Among the people featured in the film are:
Patrick Kennedy, former member of the U.S. House of Representatives who most notably fought the battle to end medical and societal discrimination against a variety of mental illnesses; Patty Duke – Oscar and Emmy award winning actress diagnosed with bipolar disorder in the early 1980s; Terri Cheney, former entertainment attorney in Beverly Hills who represented the likes of Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones, and major motion picture studios; and Ellen Forney talented cartoonist and award winning author. Several of her books have been New York Times bestsellers including Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo and Me. Kay; Redfield Jamison – bestselling author of the groundbreaking book on bipolar disorder, An Unquiet Mind and Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins.

Experts featured in the film include:
Dr. Thomas Insel, a neuroscientist and psychiatrist best known for his leadership of the National Institute of Mental Health and prior work as the Director of the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience at Emory University in Atlanta; Dr. Paul Keck: A scientist, author, and CEO whose research is greatly focused on bipolar disorder and psychopharmacology and has led to over 500 scientific journals, various text book contributions, and numerous honors; Dr. Karl Deisseroth, a professor, researcher, and technological innovator who is both the D.H. Chen Professor of Bioengineering and of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University; and Dr. Helen Mayberg, a well-known neurologist trained at Columbia University’s Neurological Institute whose work as a neurologist led to the first ever study of deep brain stimulation. She began her DBS research at University of Toronto before moving on to Emory.

Neuroscience News thanks Hina Syed of ProSocial Consulting and Detroit Public Television for the opportunity of an advanced screening of Ride The Tiger.

Additional information about bipolar disorder:
Bipolar Disorder on Neuroscience News
Mind: For Better Mental Health – About Bipolar Depression
Bipolar Disorder on NIMH

Author of this review:
Erik Driscoll – Neuroscience News
Review Request and Sources: Hina Syed – ProSocial Consulting and Della Cassia – Detroit Public Television
Image Credit: The tiger image is in the public domain. Promotional image provided by ProSocial Consulting/Detroit Public Television.
Video Source: The video is credited to Detroit Public Television (DPTV) and is available via the PBS website.

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