One of the most common effects of eating Paleo/Primal seems to be having better energy and moods. Tweaking the diet further also really seems to help a lot of people, whether it's more/less carbs, no FODMAPs, or eliminating dairy. But for a bipolar person, going manic can also increase energy and cause elevated moods.
Edit: I'm not looking for or expecting a dietary cure in Primal. Totally not what I'm asking.
So for you bipolar cavepeeps or those familiar with it, how do you tell if your dietary tweaks are working for you, or if you're just going manic?
You need to watch you warning signs I guess. Youve worked those out, yeah? Lack of sleep, obvious ones like delusions or impulsivity, but ideally the more subtle ones you usually get early on.
If you havent worked those out, sit down and write down everything that normally happens for you early on at the very begining of your mania. You should get a picture of things to watch out for, when your still in a clear-ish state of mind to recognise the warnings.
Good mood, in itself should be a good thing. Its only when it comes with dysfunction that its a problem. Maybe eat lots of choline foods, like eggs and liver (and to a lesser degree, meat), or take a choline supplement. Choline has been indicated in studies to be probably be about as effective as the medicines.
Deficiency (which is very common), might actually be a factor in whatever this illness actually is, mechanically. For this reason, a paleo diet is probably much better for BP than SAD.
Also if youve been diagnosed with either ADHD, or BP, id recommend getting a thyroid test. Hyperthyroid is commonly misdiagnosed as either of those two illnesses (as it really messes with your thinking/emotions/energy and can also produce psychosis). In general there are alot of organic causes with similar symptoms, and I think psychiatrists arent thorough enough in their ruling out of physical illnesses. Not that this will always apply, but its worth checking out in further detail...
I have only been paleo for a few months, but I can definitely tell you that it has helped me immensely. I do fear sometimes that I am a little manic, as I get very contemplative about life in general when I am (and I have been more so now that I am paleo), but my husband has said that I have seemed very stable since going paleo. I have to admit, when I started this, I was on four(!) meds. With the help of my dr, I am now in the process of weaning down to one (lamictal). I am hopeful that with a little more time, I can get off them completely, but I am not pushing my luck.
The reason I am confident that paleo has helped me, and not just the meds is that I have been on the same combo of meds before and never felt this great since being diagnosed. I am more patient with my kids, and well....people in general. I am more conscious of my snap judgements that I used to make and have been more compassionate with people than I was in the past. I do VLC paleo for the most part, and I have seem a little research that being using ketones for fueling the brain is better than glucose for the bipolar brain. I haven't had any warning signs thus far (except for the usual irritability due to pms). I feel great. Hope that helps:)
I am BP and Hypothyroid. So I will share my experiences. Paleo had little or no effect on my bipolar. Of course, YMMV. Supplements like choline don't come close to helping in any way my depression or my mania. My thyroid is regulated by a thyroid supplement and it has no effect on my bipolar as long as I get regular blood tests to make sure my levels are correct. I must take prescription medications for my bipolar disorder. I have tried every natural treatment in the world. I mean, everything! Nothing has helped. I spent many years of misery until I finally went back to prescription medications for bipolar. I still follow a Paleo plan. But for me personally, it has no effect whatsoever on bipolar.
I was diagnosed with Bipolar unspecified when I was younger but I was also high carb vegetarian back then except for occasional sushi cheats. Anyway, the major hypomania stopped occurring when I reintroduced meat regularly in to my diet (I didn't make the connection at the time, though) but I still struggled with depression and anxiety in a big way. I have found since going relatively low carb, my mood has stabilized, though if I don't pay big attention to getting AT LEAST regular walks, a good night's sleep, and sunshine in, it falters. The tradeoff is, that I sometimes feel sort of flat on low carb, but for my family's sake, I think it's better for me to be a bit phlegmatic than a cyclically wet gloomy blanket. I don't necessarily think low carb vulcan is ideal, by the way, but in the case of mental instability it can be a major blessing. The BIG things you really should cut out are caffiene and sugar... maybe dairy too.
Anyway When I was still tackling a lot of this stuff I found this article really helpful. I am not advocating that you go off your meds but you may find that it's possible to titrate down a bit after a year of clean eating. Good luck!
Hey, I was admitted into a hospital when I was 13 for anorexia nervosa, and when I was there was also diagnosed with bipolar disorder. When I was 17 it was changed to just "bi-polar, manic tendencies" after convincing doctors that my eating disorder was not the result of depression and just probably can be easily boiled down to a genetic predisposition, perfectionism, academic and athletic pressures, and perhaps a traumatic upbringing. IT was not, however, because I experienced non-situation-dependent depressive periods juxtaposed against unusual periods of mania (which would both have to be present for diagnosis). So, now my diagnosis is just "bi-polar (manic) tendencies", which can simply be thought of being a dopamine addict.
For individuals with bi-polar/mania, I find a good and the easiest gauge of stability is sex drive and is what I call superhero status. ONe typical characteristic of most bi-polar individuals is a hyperactive sex drive, and another is feelings of grandeur/innvincibilty (I call this superhero effect). So, I can easily gauge my stability by just monitoring those two things. ON the sex side of things, this means if I am getting an instant stiff-ie from glancing at the barista behind the counter serving me coffee, having consecutive nights of wet dreams in my twenties, and having refractory period between sex of not more than 5-6 minutes...red flags start shooting up.
For the superhero effect, I judge this mainly by monitoring risky behavior in several ways. I have my pilot license, so one of them is easily just how reckless I am and how often I go up. I had been suspended for two weeks from flight school at 17 due to "improper use of the aircraft" (repetitively spinning the aircraft at altitudes below 2500 feet...some people would just call that that stupid though, and not superman status). Not to go into much detail here, but frequency of dopaminergenic drug use another guide to mania, and more importantly I think is the context (time and place) of the use, b/c usually when it is not in the privacy of one or another's own home, it is a risky time to choose to do it. Bar tabs are also a good guide to mania. Typically I just drink, and seldom actually get drunk anymore. When I am manic though, I would say that I am getting drunk and possibly blacking out. Luckily, I have not had this happen in over about 2 years, save for one night after I got dumped by the love of my life :( But that is really just typical male behavior, not really a symptom of bipolar, so I can exclude that from a non-situational depressive context that would be criteria for diagnosis.
You could probably use similar guides, just adjusted to the context of your life.
For me, the oscillations in mood have been fairly stable for the past four years. Where as someone with bi-polar (both mania and depression) would experience oscillations below and above the baseline with no rhyme or rhythm to the situation, someone with bipolar manic tendencies like I have would have a baseline and oscillations above that that are out of context. Oscillations below baseline "normal" would be normal given the circumstances.
I can only really attribute the improvement to an improved diet and lifestyle. First, I started getting very serious about weight training. This I think had the effect of letting my brain operate on mostly ketones by allowing my muscles to burn up and fully utilize all of the glucose that I supply it with, which is only in properly timed windows around workouts. Also, adding in more healthy fats and eating higher protein has helped tremendously. I used to just eat a good balanced diet when I was younger, but now it si really like a constant protein sparing modified fast that only supplies what is absolutely necessary, nothing superfluous. Surprisingly or not, fruit is detrimental to my mental health, and I think it is because the fructose is not taken up by the muscles, so it kind of jolts my system, which obviously just prefers glucose for muscles and little else. I eat fruit for a few months in the summer, but even then try to limit it two servings of the lower fructose varieties figs, which are my favorite.
Not sleeping is also good gauge. I figure when I am consistently not going to bed tired or waking up early, something is really not right.
I typically do not actually try to alleviate mania symptoms besides the not-sleeping one. This unfortunately has created a path of destruction in my life, in the form of relationships and reputation. I can deal with a reputation for being reckless or spoiled, but I have to say that I find I lack a certain resilience to stress that other men seem to have. This is what pains me the most. I find the only thing I can really do when i start getting manic is to stop all caffeine, lift more, and mostly just read/steady while wearing BOSE noise canceling head phones because the slightest things distract me. I kind of have to cease going out drinking with friends, dating girls, and the doing other fun things that kids my age do because it just ends up being destructive to those involved, which ends up being destructive to me. Sucks, but it is not the worst thing, and it doesn't last forever.
best advice is to watch the warning signs and act accordingly, which again, for me is usually some time off from socializing/dating/bars/caffeine and more "me/alone" time.
Interesting stuff guys. I have been diagnosed as bi-polar in the past. I am pretty convinced now that my fast swings from depression to mania were diet/ nutrient related and not actually bi-polar. Since eating a very high fat paleo diet for the last 3+ years, I have not really had a touch of "bi-polar" at all. I am convinced all the dietry changes have made a huge difference, but particularly getting off gluten, alcohol and soy (I was a crazy, fat, soy/grain based vegetarian before paleo.) I know this is a bit off topic and not the case for everyone, but i just wanted to share how i "cured" my bi-polar. :-) Now i feel good all the time, and it's not because I'm manic!
the only thing that has really helped to control my moods and actually give me an idea of what it is like to be a stable person emotionally and mentally is doing a keto diet and focusing on quality, local, grass fed, and mostly raw meats and animal foods.
I suffered from manias, extreme anxiety and depression and eating disorders for 25 years. I am 30 now but my life has seriously been a vicious cycle of mania, weight loss, binging, alcoholism, weight gain, super depression, mania, car accidents, suicide attempts moving, being crazy, thinking I could fly, crashing, being a pot head, binge eating suicide attempts, and drinking, absolute misery......
all the while I was trying to eat healthfully, haha imagine that, because i knew that there was no way my misery was a product of the reality of my life(even though parts of my life have been shit, i can deal with a lot!) so i kept on with organic foods, then at 25 I stopped eating wheats, sugar, soy, beans, nuts, eggs and dairy... pretty much anything I was allergic to, my adrenals were crashed but doing this bolstered them up for 4 more years or insanity, ha! i stuck to pretty much whole foods though, still smoked pot, stopped drinking coffee, started taking some supplements, and AT LEAST felt i had a chance at being happy someday. i also lost my menstrual cycle at this age. slowly i have been weening myself out of these bad habits, with slip ups here an there, but the binge eating was still killer, even on paleo, i would be totally addicted to the ups and downs of my blood sugar, and felt like i was a skinny diabetic with exercise bullemia, when some major stress hit at this stage i was totally stopped in my tracks, full blown adrenal failure, gained 50 pounds and became a fat diabetic! realized i needed to cut the fucking carbs out once and for all, that i could no longer deal with blood sugar swings as much as i could no longer deal with these bouts of mania and depression.
taking carbs out of the equation, having a steady blood sugar and eating extremely nutrient dense foods has really helped. I also supplement with sam-e, coq10, multi, fish oils, b vitamins, iodine, mag and selenium. i got my menstrual cycle back two weeks into keto after its absence for 5 years. i am not totally healthy or where i want to be yet. but its only been 4 months, i feel like some deep seated problems are working their way out, lots of inflammation is gone for good, i don't really get excited over things, i am happy, i am calm, i can deal with life.
i will admit about once a month i get these little feelings, usually before bed, that "if i had a gun i would totally do it" little suicidal thoughts, and i have sat with those for a few days before i figured out my brain was just SUPER low on serotonin. so i have a carb up day if/when that shit hits, and eat a lot of popcorn. the next day i usually do a marathon of bike riding, but i don't go back to eating carbs, i get back on the keto horse and ride the good energy. its enough to bolster my brain for quite a while..
sorry this is a total mess of a wall of text, but there you go.
Jessica, you snuck on in and told my story, or at least bits of it! I'm a 46 year old 14 years sober alcoholic in AA. I also have Bipolar and serious PTSD which also has a little laundry list of anxiety related illnesses under it. While still sober, five years ago I tried to take my life 100% seriously and nearly did die. I've been a food addict all my life, I believe due to genetics, but also as a response to my horrific environment as a child. I was a yo-yo dieter my whole life. But 10 years ago, when I was put on mood stabilisers, all bets were off. I went from 60kg to 126kg, have lost a little but it is simply impossible (so far) for me to lose weight when the meds drive me to eat fat, sugar and salt 24/7 - even unconscious night-eating.
I have severe IBS which curtails all life activities outside the home - and I am on the Disability Pension, live alone, so it's a very bad deal of years of profound isolation since I lost my ability to work due to my MI 6 years ago. Vicious cycle. But I do get out to medical appointments, AA and now Adullt Children of Alcoholics - what fun!! The only thing I've been able to do to even get out and about for years without poo-ing myself in public is to take Immodium or the like which is terrible for the bowel - it stops it's natural functioning and the meds cost money I don't have.
I am going to ask my therapist about trying the Paleo diet. I've nearly died through suicide so I always put things past psychologist and psychiatrist before diving into things. Wish me luck.
It would probably be difficult to properly self-test whether your mood is a result of the diet or your disorder without having a mood diary from before you started the diet to compare it to.
If you have a doctor, psychologist, psychiatrist or therapist who has known you since before you started the diet, you could talk to one of them. They could give you an honest, unbiased answer to your question, as long as there aren't any other factors that could have affected your mood since then such as new therapies, medications or big changes in your life.
If not, you could always ask your friends and family about your how your mood might have improved. Keep in mind though, that some people have difficulty talking about mental health and may feel uncomfortable if you bring it up.
They may not fully understand what you ask them and just go along with what you say, only pretending to understand. They might dodge your question or change the subject and hope you stop asking them. They might give you a dishonest answer and only tell you what they think you want to hear, true or not. Not that there's anything wrong with friends or family doing this, it's a social taboo and a lot of people react this way when talking about it.
If they don't want to talk about your mental health, you should respect it. They most likely respect you for your courage and willingness to talk about it. If they are willing to talk about it, make sure they understand that you need an honest answer and they need to understand what your asking them, since dishonesty is often harmful when talking about mental health.