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Bipolar disorder

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Bipolar disorder — sometimes called manic-depressive disorder — is associated with mood swings that range from the lows of depression to the highs of mania. When you become depressed, you may feel sad or hopeless and lose interest or pleasure in most activities. When your mood shifts in the other direction, you may feel euphoric and full of energy. Mood shifts may occur only a few times a year, or as often as several times a day. In some cases, bipolar disorder causes symptoms of depression and mania at the same time.

Although bipolar disorder is a disruptive, long-term condition, you can keep your moods in check by following a treatment plan. In most cases, bipolar disorder can be controlled with medications and psychological counseling (psychotherapy).

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Nutrition and Bipolar Disorder

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Nutrition and Bipolar Disorder

  • About two million Americans struggle with bipolar disorder, also called manic depression (See Resources). People suffering from this serious illness experience extreme mood swings ranging from periods of intense mania and high energy to low episodes of exhaustion and deep depression. Although there’s no miracle diet or pill for treating bipolar disorder, eating nutritionally does improves the overall health and mental condition of a person with bipolar disorder.


  • Because antioxidants fight damaging molecules, called free radicals, they’re helpful in treating depression. Antioxidants are found in vitamins C and E, as well as the nutrient beta-carotene. Good sources of vitamin C include fruits and vegetables such as blueberries, grapefruit, oranges, strawberries, broccoli, peppers and potatoes. Nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, wheat germ and margarine contain vitamin E. For beta-carotene eat fruits and vegetables including apricots, cantaloupe, carrots, pumpkin and spinach.

Proteins and Carbohydrates

  • Protein foods such as tuna, chicken and turkey are rich in tyrosine, an amino acid that increases dopamine and norepinephrine, which are brain chemicals that help fight depression. Don’t shun carbohydrates, but try to avoid white flour, sugary and fatty foods, opting for good carbs such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes.

Fatty Acids and Fish Oil

  • A study in 1998 conducted by psychiatrist and biochemist Dr. Joseph Hibbeln found a link between increased seafood consumption and improved moods. More studies followed, finding that diets rich in fish oil and fatty acids contributed to healthier dispositions. For example, one experiment was done on English prisoners that showed a decrease in prison assaults among inmates who were fed seafood containing omega-3 fatty acids. Foods with significant amounts of fatty acids include herring, salmon, mackerel, walnuts, olive and flaxseed oil, whole grain foods, lean meats, eggs and dark green leafy vegetables.

Folic Acid

  • Folic acid is a B vitamin crucial for the body making new healthy cells. Increased levels of folic acid in the blood are thought to be linked to improved moods so it’s considered helpful for treating bipolar people. A safe substance, folic acid has no specific side effects and doesn’t interfere with lithium treatments for depression. Examples of foods rich in folic acid are peas, lentils, oranges, whole-wheat products, beets, spinach, asparagus, brussels sprouts and dried beans. Many breakfast cereals contain folic acid such as Total and Product 19.

The B Vitamins

  • The B vitamins are important in regulating mood in that they energize people. Vitamin B-1(Thiamin) is often recommended for bipolar people with anxiety, irritability and other problems. Calves liver and snapper are good sources of B-2 Vitamin. B-6 (Pyridoxine) is also effective for helping bipolar patients with irritability and other depression symptoms. Foods containing vitamin B-6 include spinach, turnip greens and bell peppers.

Vitamin B 12

  • Some alternative practitioners recommend vitamin B-12 shots for depression because this vitamin makes serotonin and other neurotransmitters. Foods rich in B-12 include liver, fish and beef. Inositol, a member of the B-12 complex, is a nutrient that helps regulate serotonin, playing a significant role the same nervous systems responding to mood stabilizers. Besides cereals, sources of inositol are found in citrus fruits, nuts, seeds and legumes.

Read more: Treating Bipolar Disorder With Nutrition & Diet |

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