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.
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:
The authors of the study suggest that including a dietitian or nutritionist on the treatment team might be a good idea.
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.
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:
Do you think a combination of different herbs can cure any form of bipolar disorder and if so what are those herbs?
In Chapter 9 of Bipolar Disorder For Dummies, we discuss a host of alternative treatments for bipolar disorder, including ECT (electroconvulsive therapy), light therapy, vitamins & minerals, and herbs, used alone and in conjunction with traditional forms of medicines and therapies. For example, some people claim that St. John’s Wort is useful for treating the depressive pole in bipolar disorder. (Of course, unfortunately, like most other antidepressants, St. John’s Wort also increases the risk of triggering mania, especially in someone who has bipolar disorder.)
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.