Added/Modified on August 2, 2014
Bipolar disorder or manic-depressive disorder is characterized by the occurrence of constant mood swings with the patient experiencing alternative episodes of elevated energy levels termed as mania and depressive episodes or both simultaneously. Considering the fact that this psychiatric disorder has an early onset and is a cause of a lifelong disability, it is considered to be far more debilitating than many forms of cancers and major neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, etc.
In view of the current scenario, in which the lack of mental health treatments has left more than half of the people suffering from bipolar disorder untreated, complementary, natural treatments serve as a lucrative approach for many patients suffering from bipolar disorder.
Moreover, the sky-rocketing prices of the current medical treatments, has encouraged many people all across the globe, especially those in the low-income countries to adapt more economical and natural ways of treating bipolar disorder. Hence, self-management of sudden changes in mood episodes through a healthy life-style and the use of certain natural, home remedies can help alleviate the symptoms of bipolar disorder.
Fish like tuna, salmon, herring, trout, etc., contains essential fatty acids called omega-3 fatty acids that are quite popular for treating mental and psychiatric disorders like bipolar disorder through their ability to stabilize and enhance an individual’s mood. They are known to increase the volume of the gray matter of the brain and promote the development of tissues in the brain areas that have been associated with “happiness”.
Declining levels of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) that are commonly referred to as omega-3 fatty acids have been associated with aggression, mood swings, depression, anxiety, dementia and a wide range of other mental disabilities and behavioral disorders.
Most abundantly found in fish oil, these good fats can also be obtained through the consumption of flaxseeds, canola oil, nuts like almonds, walnuts, Brazil nuts, pistachios and vegetables like broccoli, spinach, etc. They are most often taken in the form of 0.5 to 1.8 grams fish oil supplements, since the current diet fails to provide adequate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids for the proper functioning of the brain in people suffering from bipolar disorder.
However, some patients have reported a mild gastrointestinal discomfort after consuming omega-3 supplements and hence it is important to seek advice from a doctor before you start taking these supplements.
A “whole” grain includes the entire, unrefined grain seed including the bran, germ and the endosperm. Being a good source of complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, essential fats, fiber and anti-oxidants, whole grain nourishes the body with enough nutrients and strength to cope with the symptoms of bipolar disorder.
Maintaining a healthy weight by watching your calorie count to ensure that you do not over-eat when you are either depressed or in an elevated mood is one of the most crucial steps in fighting the symptoms of bipolar disorder. Hence, an intake of two to three serving of whole grain per day allows you to consume less fat and sugar, thereby decreasing your chances of becoming obese, which in turn, can aggravate the symptoms of bipolar disorder.
Moreover, replacing high-fat meals with breads, cereals, deserts, crackers, etc., can increase the rate of absorption of medications used to treat bipolar disorder, thereby requiring a lower dosage for eliciting an effect for mitigating the symptoms associated with bipolar disorder.
Packed with calcium, magnesium and B-complex vitamins, oatmeal serves as one of the best fuels for the brain by its ability to improve the functionality of the brain and prevent cognitive decline. Being low on the glycemic index, it increases blood sugar levels gradually and steadily as opposed to a high glycemic index diet that leads to a rapid elevation in blood sugar levels.
This makes it one of the best foods for providing a long-lasting supply of glucose to the brain, thus leading to several hours of sustained brain power. Moreover, for keeping your mood levels stable, it is important to balance your blood sugar levels well, since a sudden elevation or spike in blood sugar can supply too much of glucose to the brain, thus leading to the manic face of bipolar disorder, which is accompanied by irritability, crying spells, excessive sweating, etc.
Furthermore, including other low GI foods like apples, berries, cherries, grapes, oranges, kiwi, etc., in oatmeal for breakfast can also aid in increasing your intake of fiber and protein, thus enabling you to stabilize uneven moods.
Get Adequate Sleep
Lack of sleep can increase the irritability and the frequency of mood swings by making the patient physically sluggish and mentally exhausted. This promotes negative thoughts in individuals and prevents them from following a schedule or planning daily activities that over-burdens them with work. Hence, tiredness that comes from sleep deprivation can trigger mania in many people suffering from bipolar disorder.
Also, a disturbance in sleep patterns can promote aggression by promoting instability of moods. Hence, try getting adequate sleep and get into the habit of sleeping and waking up at the same time, every day to overcome the symptoms of bipolar disorder. Also, avoid excess caffeine, since it disrupts sleep and can interfere with the sedative effect of medications that are used for treating anxiety and mania associated with bipolar disorder.
Replace caffeinated drinks with herbal teas like green tea, black tea, peppermint tea, etc., to save yourselves from sleepless nights and to reduce the frequency of manic episodes. These teas are known for their ability to increase the levels of dopamine in the brain that maintain positive moods and aids in reducing anxiety and stress that take a toll over the alternating depressive and manic episodes in people suffering from bipolar disorder.
Moreover, herbal teas promote relaxation by soothing your nerves and improving blood circulation to the brain, which in turn, enables you to stay focused and beat the symptoms associated with bipolar disorder.
Considering the sudden changes in your mood, it seems very difficult to stay focused during work. Too much of workload can become yet another reason for triggering stress in your life that can aggravate the symptoms of your condition. Hence, make a to-do list and split your tasks into small sub-tasks and work on them by setting achievable goals. If too much workload is increasing your stress levels, seek help and allocate your job to your family and friends for simplifying your life. This will help you stick to a daily schedule that in turn, aids in controlling your mood swings.
The lack of mental health treatments for treating bipolar and the negligence in terms of recognizing its symptoms at an early age can be quite disturbing for the adolescent group while trying to cope with education and career issues. Hence, the incorporation of the above mentioned remedies like healthy meals, adequate sleep, relaxation and exercise in your daily routine can reduce the severity of this debilitating condition.
However, it is important to seek advice from a doctor, before including these natural supplements in your diet to avoid any supplement-drug interactions that can deteriorate your condition even more, thus leading to fatal consequences.
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