Bipolar Disorder and Paleo

by (77338) Updated December 26, 2013 at 7:16 PM Created April 26, 2011 at 9:19 PM

I searched the PH site and found nothing on bipolar disorder and paleo. Does anyone here suffer from bp and if so, how has (if at all) paleo helped you? I found that my moods are a lot more even on paleo however, I wonder if there are specifics to this diet of which I should be aware.

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15 Replies

5245 · April 26, 2011 at 10:40 PM

A bit of background, since I'm not sure I'm qualified to answer your question: I'm undiagnosed but my doctor highly implied that she thought I was rapid-cycle bipolar. However, she failed to refer me to a psychologist, and thus I remain without a label. My mother is bipolar, though, so I'm pretty certain I've got it, as well. I'm self-diagnosed with cyclothymia. :)

Anyway, onward, to answer your question! I find myself much more mellow these days, but oddly enough, I'm having more of the hypo-mania periods as of late. Then, instead of plummeting, I tend to settle back into feeling almost normal. I still get my lows, but they're not "pit-of-despair" quality like they used to be.

2439 · April 26, 2011 at 10:46 PM

It is theorized that bipolar is small seizures in the brain. Therefore some feel that a ketogenic diet can regulate bipolar just as it can stop seizures from occuring.


280 · April 26, 2011 at 11:55 PM

I think a lot of of are going to come to the same consensus, but I'll share my story anyways.

I am bipolar, or I should say I was diagnosed as bipolar, but since going gluten free and even more so since going paleo I have been largely asymptomatic. I haven't read all of the literature out there, but I'm pretty sure I remember both Mark Sisson and Robb Wolf touching on how ongoing reactions to our SAD foods could trigger bouts of depression either in documented examples or in "let's share a story" (honestly I just don't feel like looking up chapter and verse) - well no kidding, if you feel like shit all the time, and you're already predisposed to a psychiatric condition, you're not doing yourself any favors.

As I have never been able to stay on my meds longer than 4 weeks before they sent me into extreme lows (and I had probably been prescribed EVERYTHING at one point or another up until I just gave up trying meds to fix the problem about 5 years ago) I can honestly say that the ONLY thing that has worked has been a change in my diet. Adding CrossFit has helped some of my stress, but definitely going grain free has helped my bipolar disorder. I still have the odd highs and lows every now and then, we all should, that's part of what makes us human and they're no where near what they were before.

I'm sorry I can't post this as a doctor with a great explanation, but I can say that what you're going through I believe is normal. As far as I can tell, there is nothing about the diet that will harm you or make it worse. Your doctor has probably told you already to eat well, get plenty of rest, and to exercise - that's regularly prescribed as part of our treatments - they just don't tell you to get off the grains and get some extra sunshine too.

138 · November 03, 2011 at 6:40 PM

From what I've heard and researched, They're starting to call Alzheimers "Type 3 Diabetes" because there are issues with glucose metabolism in the brain. The Brain can run off Glucose or Ketones. Apparently Medium chain fatty acids have been found to help Alzheimers. And those are in Coconut Oil. Dr Mary Newport has reversed some of her husbands Alzheimers with Coconut Oil. And Bruce Fife has lots of stuff on Coconut Oil.

Anywayz, I know you don't have Alzheimers but it seems all these conditions of brain health (depression, Bipolar and Alzheimers) have skyrocketed along with Diabetes ever since we've been on this low-fat, high carb lifestyle.

I also saw on Paleoparents.com that Their whole family benefited in their brain health and emotional issues

20 · November 03, 2011 at 6:13 PM

Would anyone here be interested in sharing a googledoc or something similar to trade new research/articles/personal experiences on bipolar and paleo/gluten-free/celiac? Paleo cured my 'rheumatoid arthritis' (life changer!) and a family member is thinking of trying it out for mood issues. Would be great to share info.

20 · July 09, 2012 at 11:12 PM

I am struggling to find out if I have bipolar. I've tried Paleo before but have not been able to stick to it, since my reasons for doing so were largely "cosmetic." For me, that never lasts. Everyone's positive testimony here makes me want to try again, and since I'm going to the grocery store tonight, I can make the right choices.

I am un-diagnosed as of yet, but I have had several doctors heavily imply that they thought I was bipolar, and my paternal grandfather was. I have had some serious indicators in my life. Thank you so much to everyone who has shared here. I am suffering pretty intensely right now, and will be seeing a counselor Wednesday, which I'm looking forward to, but I don't want to be slapped on meds for the rest of my life if I don't have to. I already take an anti depressant but I just don't think it's enough. I think I need to start respecting my body, Paleo style again, with foods that can heal me from the inside out.

Blessings to all of you.

40 · November 24, 2011 at 10:37 AM

I am type II Bipolar and have noticed that I am far more "up" and not at all depressed. I have read the same thing, that doing a ketogenic diet helps, and that staying away from sugar will also help to stabilize mood. I think that the exercise helps too with depression. I take an antiepileptic drug called lamictal, which has no side effects. I wish I didn't have to take anything, but bipolar mood swings can be devastating and I am not willing to take any risks! Maybe you could ask your doctor about taking a med with fewer side effects. There are many options other than Lithium.
Good Luck!

0 · December 26, 2013 at 10:01 AM

Bipolar means two poles....as in two poles of mood. Also called manic depression as that described the two poles. Mania, and depression. It is a mood disorder where the person experiences episodes of depression, and episodes of mania. Depression is more understood, mania not as much. Mania is not just "really happy". Mania is a high energy period that can be either euphoric (happy/hyper energy) or dysphoric (angry/raging energy)...or some of both. With both there are racing thoughts and distorted perceptions. Also many impulsive/reckless behaviors/decisions due to the distorted perceptions(that's where excessive spending, hypersexuallity and things like that come in). Depression just feels like a deep pit you cant get out of, and unlike situational depression, there is nothing you can address, change, or cope with to pull yourself out of it. Often energy is so low that even getting out of bed takes a huge effort....and sometimes is next to impossible. Could overeat.....or barely eat at all. Thoughts of suicide are common, but usually in the severe end of depressed state they don't happen as you just don't have the energy to make a plan....much less follow through with it. Suicide risk is higher when depression seems to be getting better as you still do feel the hopelessness, but finally have the energy to follow through with it. There are also "mixed episodes" where symptoms of both poles are mixed.......the hopelessness and despair of depression, along with the agitation, racing thoughts, and energy of mania. (Actually i think this state has a higher risk of suicide....why suicide rates are so high with bipolar then with just depression.....i think the stats are 25-30% of people with bipolar attempt and 15-20% succeed....unfortunately I'm part of the % of people that attempt, fortunately not succeed...but both of my attempts did come during a severe mixed episode.) Episodes can last weeks to months, its not really "mood swings" so much as it is drastic shifts in mood when the mood episodes do change. Also episodes generally are not due to environment. Could be severely depressed when everything in life is just about perfect. Could be raging and angry from mania, with no reason to be angry over anything(but watch out if someone or something gives you a reason to be angry when already raging.....isnt pretty). Could be happy and feel like nothing could hurt you and nothing could go wrong, but be in a position that you are going to lose your job, about to be evicted from your apartment and have your car repoed for non payment because you overspent on other things......but still feel like you can manage everything. Is primarily treated with mood stabilizers. Lithium being the longest used, and still one of the most effective for most people. Many anticonvolsents have been found to be very effective mood stabilizers. Many people are also treated with anti-psychotics (even without psychotic episodes, anti psychotics are very effective with treating manic symptoms), anti anxiety meds (anxiety is often also present with bipolar), and anti depressants (must be done very carefully and never without a mood stabilizer......antidepressants can easily trigger severe mania, especially without mood stabalizer.....been there, not fun) The word bipolar is often very incorrectly used anymore for anyone that is moody, exhibits 2 opposites in behavior(mean/nice, happy/sad), has a temper and so on. That is completely incorrect A lot is unknown as to exacly what causes it. It is linked to genetics, however it is not completely genetic. An identical twin of someone with bipolar only has about a 50% chance of having it, where if it was completely genetic, if one had it, the other definitly would (but if it wasnt genetic, then one having it would not mean the chances of the other having it would be so high). There are thought to be enviromental factors that contribute to it developing. Chances are much lower if there is no family history....only about 1% chance...but is still possible. Plus, you never know if relitives did have it but kept it secret, or were in denal about it, or never sought diagnosis or treatment at all. It is not curable and is not "easily treatable". Some people may have an easy time treating it, especially in a mild case. But it can be very difficult to find the right combo and dose of meds that keep symptoms undercontrol, and could take something as simple as stress to throw out all control of the illness and need to find new dose or meds. And some people never can find meds that completely control the illness, and just hope to help lessen the extremes.

Antidepressant meds

0 · January 28, 2013 at 3:24 AM

I am bipolar and it is hard to make it through Carb flu z:(

5323 · September 15, 2012 at 5:15 AM

Be interesting to see if psychiatrists can prove that bipolar disorder, as conceived, exists.

Clearly something goes awry with peoples perception, but what, and how that should be dealt with needs elucidating..

0 · August 17, 2012 at 5:19 AM

See above I posted here on accident and don't know how to delete

90 · April 27, 2011 at 1:53 AM

Paleo diets are higher in omega 3 fatty acids. These fatty acids are beneficial to brain function and can ameliorate depressive symptoms. (the health benefits of omega3 polyunsaturated fatty acids; a review of the evidence. Ruxton, Reed, Simpson, Millington.) If not then a supplement is a good idea. Also as paleo is very low in sugars, sugar is responsible for a whole gamete of awful side effects such as inflammation and mood swings. And who knows what other consequences come from additives and preservatives. So it stands to reason that in the absence of these toxic substances your moods become moderated and you feel " normal".

161 · April 26, 2011 at 10:02 PM

I have bipolar... I haven't seen any positives or negatives. So really this was not a very helpful answer.

2426 · April 26, 2011 at 9:25 PM

I'm writing an answer here so I'm notified of future posts. My family suffers greatly from depression. I can't get through the carb flu without caving in because of mine. My resilience seems to be good for all of 4 days or so.

-2 · September 15, 2012 at 4:16 AM

Ok paleo is great but really.. It lacks emphasis on quality Quality of food i have found is just as important .things tht have changed my Life tht may sound Rather odd are high quality virgin coconut oil, grass fed butter ( odd but Eat lots) and cutting out grains!! Look on this website www.bulletproofexecutive.com Now i have tried every peice of adviceand drugs from doctors, the more I read about mental health the more i realise how Little they know. Since 16 have suffered major depression that lasted 2 years No reason tht i could think of my major symptoms where memory loss short and long Spatial awarness decline and an inability to formulate vocab The truth, they dont know their logic is based around complex Theoretical Interactions in the brain that they on the grandier scale of knowedge on The brain have Only scratched the surface. What to do then ? Give your brain what it wants it wants fats(read what kinds on bullet proof) your brain if u deduct water half ur brain is fats. Im not gonna go off about what to eat and why www.bulletproofexecutive.com does so much better

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