Archives for Diet & Nutrition

Alternative Treatments

Depression: Have You Had Your Folate (Folic Acid) Levels Checked?

Research has long shown an association between low folate levels and depression, particularly depression that's more severe and less responsive to medical treatment. (Folate is a water-soluble B vitamin in its natural form. Folic acid is the synthetic version found in supplements.)

Folate is critical in the development of the human nervous system, so pregnant women must take folic acid supplements. People who abuse alcohol, people with certain illnesses, and those who take a number of different medications are at risk for folate deficiencies, which can present with a variety of cognitive, emotional, and behavioral symptoms. Doctors may check folate levels as part of an initial workup of depression.
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Nutritional Factors in Bipolar Disorder Often Overlooked

Researchers at Lewisham Counselling and Counsellor Associates in Britain performed a very small study to determine what impact, if any, diet and nutrition have on a person with bipolar disorder and the implications of this on psychotherapeutic practice. They presented their findings at the BACP (British Association for Counseling & Psychotherapy) Research Conference 2011. Here's what they found:

A link does exist between diet and bipolar disorder. Omega 3, Magnesium, Vitamin B, and low sugar intake seemed helpful in minimizing the intensity and frequency of the mood swings.
A sudden increase or decrease in appetite or erratic eating pattern is common at the onset of bipolar disorder.
Bipolar treatments seldom consider diet, perhaps because of its perceived association with alternative medicine.

The authors of the study suggest that including a dietitian or nutritionist on the treatment team might be a good idea.

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Feeling Better with a Bipolar Challenge

In Bipolar Disorder For Dummies and on this blog, we have recommended numerous lifestyle and environmental changes someone can take to feel better with bipolar disorder. Readers have contributed some of their own ideas and suggestions to keep the conversation going.

While nutritional changes, mindfulness, exercise, and other such interventions don't treat bipolar disorder, these can be important tools for making you feel better overall. Sometimes, these interventions can even reduce symptoms; for example, mindfulness can be helpful in the treatment of depression and anxiety, while exercise can boost moods.

We thought it might be interesting and fun to try something together. Making lifestyle and environmental changes is hard, so it's usually best to make small, manageable changes – something you can do and succeed at, so you gain a sense of mastery and the encouragement to try more new things.
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Diet & Nutrition

Weight Loss Surgery and Bipolar Disorder

A recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry entitled "Are Mood Disorders and Obesity Related? A Review for the Mental Health Professional" (McElroy, Susan L.; Kotwal, Renu; Malhotra, Shishuka; Nelson, Erik B.; Keck, Paul E., Jr.; Nemeroff, Charles B.) reveals a possible connection between obesity and mood disorders including major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder.

The study found that:

Children and adolescents with major depressive disorder may be at increased risk for developing obesity.
Patients with bipolar disorder may have elevated rates of overweight, obesity, and abdominal obesity. (Abdominal obesity is specifically related to higher risk of cardiovascular disease.)
Persons living with obesity who seek weight-loss treatment may have elevated rates of depressive and bipolar disorders.
Obesity is associated with major depressive disorder in females.
Abdominal obesity may be associated with depressive symptoms in females and males.
Most overweight and obese persons do not have mood disorders.

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Good Mood Foods

Among other things, your body is a chemical factory – breaking down everything you eat into a collection of chemicals and compounds and then reassembling them to build muscle, fuel growth and movement, heal damaged cells, fight infection, and much more. So it makes sense that whatever you consume is likely to influence how you feel – physically, mentally, and emotionally. Have the chef salad for lunch, you feel one way. Chow down on a Big Mac and fries, and you feel entirely different.
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