Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive disorder, is an illness characterized by two components: extreme highs and extreme lows. It is a disease that can incapacitate a person’s life, leaving them with a feeling of hopelessness and helplessness. This disorder has become a household term, now affecting 5.7 million Americans. The cause is not completely understood, but it is thought that lack of proper nutrition may play a part in the growing number of people suffering from this condition. Therefore, supplying the body with the proper nutrients and supplements may provide important help in correcting this disorder.
Although we all experience ups and downs due to everyday stress, they are nothing compared to the ups and downs that a person with a bipolar disorder experiences. The “ups” is called the manic phase where the person experiences almost a wild ecstasy, sometimes causing them to behave irresponsibly while taking serious risks. Those undergoing the manic phase of the disease may experience a feeling of elation, coupled with over-inflated self-esteem. This is a time where they think that the world is at their feet and that nothing is impossible. Other symptoms consist of irritability, decreased need for sleep, rapid speech, increased libido, delusions, and the inability to focus on a specific task.
The other side of the coin, the depressive phase, eventually surfaces. During this phase, the person can experience the deepest pit of depression. The depressive phase presents itself with loss of energy, sadness, loss of interest in activities, significant changes in appetite, difficulty in sleeping or oversleeping, feelings of guilt and worthlessness, and suicidal thoughts.
These highs and lows can range from mild to extreme. They may come on slowly over a period of time, or they can surface within a matter of hours. A bipolar disorder can cause behavior extreme enough that it may be impossible to function in society. It affects family, work, and social relationships. As a likely result of the depression and extreme mood swings, as many as one in five people with bipolar disorder commit suicide.
The cause of a bipolar disorder is thought to be both physical and emotional. Some studies suggest that high or low levels of serotonin, norepinephrine, or dopamine are among the chief causes. Another cause could be imbalanced hormones and stress triggers are thought to be a third cause.
In addressing a bipolar disorder, just as with any other health condition, diet is crucial. It is important to give the body the proper nutrients it needs. Oftentimes, poor nutrition is at least partly responsible for an impending condition. It is thought that the decreasing amounts of vitamins and minerals in our food supply and the SADs diet is responsible for the increasing numbers of people diagnosed as bipolar.
Removing unhealthy foods and stimulants that can aggravate symptoms should be a priority. Sugar, fatty foods, and caffeine are all irritants which contribute to manic episodes. On the other hand, alcohol, a depressant in its own right, will contribute to the depressive episodes. Removing these harmful ingredients from one’s diet may improve, if not eliminate, these symptoms.
In Part II of this segment we will go into detail as to how proper nutrition, together with the appropriate supplements can lessen to eliminate bipolar symptoms.