treatments aim to ease the symptoms of bipolar disorder. Such treatments can
lower stress that may trigger manic or depressive episodes. There is some doubt
as to whether these treatments really work, and there is little research
evidence when compared to traditional treatments. But many people with bipolar
disorder claim to have had some success with alternative therapies.
check with your doctor before using any alternative treatments.
are some behaviors that may trigger bipolar episodes. Here are some lifestyle
changes that doctors and psychologists suggest to help avoid triggers.
Physical exercise can help steady mood
and ease depression. Exercise releases brain chemicals called endorphins, which
cause euphoric feelings and can help you sleep better. Exercise is also good
for your heart and can help you maintain a healthy weight. This is especially
important for people with bipolar disorder, as they have a higher risk for
heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
Get Plenty of Sleep
Adequate sleep can
help stabilize your mood and reduce irritability. If you have trouble sleeping,
cut back on caffeine and schedule your exercise for the morning hours. If this
doesn’t work, talk to your
doctor — they may have other strategies for you, or may want to look at your
current medication regimen.
Avoid Unhealthy Relationships
You may have some
relationships that encourage unhealthy behaviors that can trigger depression or
mania. These relationships can worsen your bipolar disorder. Try to surround
yourself with people who are positive influences.
Avoid Alcohol and Illegal Substances
Abuse of alcohol and
other substances is common in people with bipolar disorder, but this increases
the risk of depression or risk-taking behavior. If you are not able to quit on
your own, seek help from a professional.
Eat Healthy Foods
Consuming fatty fish
may help reduce depression and improve brain function. It may also help have a
positive affect on the moods of those with bipolar disorder. Fatty fish is also
good for the heart. The American Heart Association recommends fish like
albacore tuna, herring, mackerel, salmon, and sardines. Try to have at least
two servings a week. Reduce your intake of saturated and trans fats which have
been linked to brain chemical imbalances. Your doctor might recommend
stopping caffeine, which can alter mood and disrupt sleep.
Herbs and Supplements
Clinical trials have
yet to prove that any currently available over-the-counter supplements are effective
for treating bipolar disorder. But there is some preliminary evidence that they
may help stabilize mood and relieve depression. Remember, the FDA does not
monitor the safety of herbs or supplements. Never use them without consulting
with your doctor.
appears to be less common in parts of the world where people regularly consume
fish and fish oil. It is thought that fish oil may help improve brain function
and depression. However, the studies on fish oil do not account for other
environmental factors that may affect the rate of bipolar disease in a
community. In other words, studies have only shown correlation and not
Fish oil is rich in
omega-3 fatty acids, which have been found in small studies to reduce
irritability and aggression. It is shown to maintain mood stability better than
placebo in people with bipolar disorder. Beneficial doses range from 1 to 9
grams. Studies have found that fish oil and omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce
depression symptoms. But more studies are needed to determine just how much
they can help people with bipolar disorder.
Consuming even 1 gram
of fish oil per day is nearly impossible in the modern American diet.
Supplements are required to consistently reach this level of intake.
have shown that some amino acid neurotransmitters play a role in mood
regulation. Many antidepressant medications work in conjunction with the
neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. Supplements are
thought to boost the production of these chemicals. Some amino acid supplements
used for bipolar symptoms are:
- S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAM-e)
dosages of these supplements can cause serious side effects. There are even some
claims that some of these supplements can trigger manic episodes. Talk with
your doctor about proper dosages, and about how these supplements might
interact with other medications you take.
St. John’s Wort
studies suggest this herb is helpful in treating symptoms of depression.
However, there are documented cases of sudden onset of mania in bipolar
patients who took St. John’s wort. Discuss the use of St. John’s wort with your
The relaxing effects of
some mind-body techniques can reduce stress that can trigger manic or
involves stretching and balancing the body in specific stances called “poses.”
These poses are performed along with controlled breathing and meditation. The
combination can leave people feeling both calm and invigorated.
can be learned at home from books or online videos. But attending regular
classes can give you a fuller and potentially more rewarding experience. You
can learn from personalized instruction from the teacher and others in the
class. There are many different types of yoga. Try to find the yoga style that
works best for you.
Meditation uses the
mind to calm the body. It can be very effective in coping with the stress of
daily life. Meditation can help you learn to control your reaction to the world
cure bipolar disorder, but it can help you remain calm. Bipolar disorder can be
complicated by stress. Relaxation techniques such as meditation can be a
valuable part of your overall treatment plan.
Massage therapy is
another alternative means for managing bipolar disorder. As with yoga and
meditation, massage helps reduce anxiety and stress.