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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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:
- oily fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines
- chia seeds
- soybean oil
- canola oil
- some fortified foods, such as yogurt, juices, and infant formula
Folic acid, also known as vitamin B9, acts as a supporting agent for brain development and functioning.
Some foods rich in folic acid include:
- citrus fruits, such as lemons and oranges
- mustard greens
- Brussels sprouts
- beef liver
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.
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.
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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:
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:
- sourdough bread
- some types of cheese
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.