There is no known cure for mania and depression. However, there are certain foods that may alleviate typical symptoms of these conditions, making it easier for people to cope with and manage their disorder.

Mental health issues, such as bipolar disorder, often feature alternating episodes of mania and depression.

People with mania experience periods of intense happiness, irritability, hyperactivity, and energy. By contrast, people with depression go through spells of low mood, hopelessness, dullness, and lethargy.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, mania and depression can disrupt a person’s personal and professional relationships and limit their ability to carry out daily tasks.

Keep reading to learn more about some dietary tips that may relieve the symptoms for people experiencing mania and depression.

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A review paper on the effects of omega-3 fatty acids and mood disorders found several studies linking low levels of omega-3 fatty acids to depression. That said, the authors of the review also note that several studies found little connection between the two.

Additionally, a more recent 2016 study suggests that omega-3 supplements may help people with episodes of mania and depression that come with bipolar disorder.

Unlike most food nutrients, omega-3 fatty acids can travel through the brain’s cell membrane and interact with molecules that govern a person’s mood. They also have anti-inflammatory properties that help relieve depression.

Omega-3 fatty acids are present in fish oil, nuts, seeds, and some marine algae. Common sources include:

Folic acid, also known as vitamin B9, acts as a supporting agent for brain development and functioning.

Research suggests that people with low folate levels are more likely to have depression. They may also not respond as well to antidepressant treatment as people with healthy folate levels.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) support these findings, stating that an increased intake of folic acid may reduce symptoms of depression and improve overall mood and well-being.

Some foods rich in folic acid include:

The promising role of folic acid in mental health has led to food manufactures fortifying other foods with this micronutrient. These include cornmeal, flour, breakfast cereal, bread, rice, and pasta.

Research shows that dark chocolate acts as a mood regulator, improving a person’s mental health and reducing depressive symptoms.

A 2019 study conducted with 13,626 adults found that people who ate dark chocolate in two 24-hour periods had a lower chance of reporting clinically relevant depressive symptoms than those who did not eat chocolate.

This is due to the presence of psychoactive ingredients in chocolate that produce a feeling of euphoria. Dark chocolate also contains a neuromodulator that can regulate a person’s mood.

According to a 2017 study, dark chocolate contains compounds called flavanols. These are plant-based substances with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which help improve and preserve brain function.

While chocolate may not do much for mania and depression on its own, it may help relieve symptoms when consumed alongside other mood-regulating foods.

Milk and dairy products are rich in an amino acid called tryptophan, which helps the body produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter that appears to affect emotions and mood.

Tryptophan is a natural sedative and acts as an antidepressant in the body. It is the least plentiful of the 22 amino acids. Since the body cannot produce tryptophan, a person needs to obtain it from their diet.

Foods that are rich sources of tryptophan include:

Tryptophan plays a multifaceted role in the body. There is a link between tryptophan deficiency and several health conditions. These include heart disease, diabetes, autism spectrum disorder in children, chronic kidney disease, cognitive decline, and depression.

The human gastrointestinal tract houses billions of beneficial bacteria that live in harmony with the millions of nerve cells that surround them. Probiotic foods contain these same beneficial bacteria.

The bacteria appear to influence nerve cell function, limit inflammation, and support the production of serotonin. This in turn suggests that the human gut influences a person’s mental functioning, mood, and overall well-being.

Probiotic foods contain live strains of beneficial bacteria. A regular intake of probiotics can support the body’s own gut bacteria and ensure they outnumber the bacteria that are harmful.

Examples of probiotic foods include:

Learn more about some of the top plant-based probiotics here.

Some foods contain nutrients or compounds that can lead to a manic episode or exacerbate symptoms of depression. These foods can also worsen other health issues, such as insomnia and anxiety.

People with mania or depression should reduce or avoid the consumption of:

  • alcohol, which is a depressant and dehydrating substance
  • refined carbohydrates and sugar, as they cause spikes in blood sugar levels, which may increase anxiety
  • caffeine, which is a stimulant that may cause a manic episode

Many of these foods promote weight gain, and according to research, obesity makes treatment for mania and depression less effective.

At present, there is no cure for mania and depression. However, a growing body of evidence suggests that some foods may have a positive impact on mood and behavior and can help relieve symptoms produced by these conditions.

Before making any dietary changes, people should consult a healthcare professional.

Mania and depression affect people differently, and therefore doctors and nutritionists tend to tailor their recommendations to suit an individual’s symptoms and needs.

Close tracking of moods and feelings on consuming these foods will help in making personalized food choices that will be beneficial in the long term.