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How omega-3 fatty acids helps bipolar disorder patients

bipolar disorder

How omega-3 fatty acids can help improve bipolar disorder symptoms

Did you know that consuming more of omega-3 fatty acids can help if you have bipolar disorder? Yes, eating more foods containing omega-3 fatty acids, such as oily fish and walnuts, can improve bipolar disorder symptoms, helping you control your mood better. Isn't that interesting?

Researchers believe inflammation contributes to bipolar disorder, and Omega-3 acids typically fights off inflammation. So adding more fish oil to your diet can be a great way to cope with bipolar disorder.

But here's arguably the most important part. While increasing omega-3 fatty acids, you have to reduce your omega-6 fatty acid (such as soybeans) intake as the latter can cause inflammation and worsen bipolar disorder. In essense, watching what you eat is just as important for your mental health as your physical one.

Some reseachers discovered this when they conducted a study to verify a hypothesis about how bipolar disorder drugs work.

The hypothesis

Scientists have long been carrying out studies on people with Bipolar Disorder and how their treatment and medications affect them. They discovered that medications for bipolar disorder altered the way patients' bodies metabolized fatty acids. Also, the byproducts of the process affected the immune system and distorted how the patients perceive pain. This is a very common experience among people with bipolar disorder.

Given the changes in fatty-acid metabolism due to the medications, researchers hypothesized that they could also effect some changes by altering the amount of fatty acid consumed. And that's what they did.

The research on fatty acids' influence on bipolar disorder patients

Clinical trial results by Penn State College of Medicine researchers show that a diet designed with specific levels of fatty acids may help bipolar disorder patients experience fewer and less intense episodes.

Dr. Erika Saunders and her team of researchers designed a diet containing varying levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids. While the amount of omega-6 fatty acid was reduced by limiting red meat and certain oils, omega-acid consumption was increased by including fatty fish and flax seeds. The participants were grouped (of course, there was a control) and given the diet alongside their normal bipolar disorder medications and treatment. They weren't even told what groups they were in. They only knew they were cooking special dishes over 12 weeks.

According to the research, the diet containing low omega-6 and high omega-3 fatty acids improved mood swings in bipolar disorder patients.

How fascinating.

Reducing omega-6 fatty acids and increasing omega-3 acids is key to coping with bipolar disorder

Reducing omega-6 fatty acids and Increasing omega-3 fatty acids can help you cope with bipolar disorder. That's because excessive omega 6 fatty acids cause inflammation, worsening bipolar symptoms, while omega 3 fatty acids tend to reduce inflammation. 

Oily fish have numerous health benefits ranging from skin to physical and mental health, so it doesn't hurt to eat more of it. If you're vegetarian, walnuts, and flaxseeds are great omega-3-dense alternatives. If you have bipolar disorder, you want to steer clear off soybeans as it's very high in omega-6 acids, which is bad news for your episodes.

Author
Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu H. Woodland, PMHCNS-BC, APRN Satu Woodland is owner and clinician of Hope Mental Health, an integrative mental health practice located at Bown Crossing in Boise, Idaho. She sees children, adolescents, and adults.  Ms. Woodland with her background in nursing, prefers a holistic and integrative approach to mental health care that addresses the mind and body together. While Ms. Woodland provides medication management services in all her patients, she believes in long-lasting solutions that include a number of psychotherapies, namely cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure and response prevention therapy, attention to lifestyle, evidenced based alternative psychiatric care and spirituality. If you’d like to gain control over your mental health issues, call Hope Mental Health at 208-918-0958, or use the online scheduling tool to set up an initial consultation.

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