Various medications and treatments can help people manage symptoms of bipolar disorder. Some supplements might help support treatment by reducing certain symptoms of the condition.

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that causes periods of extreme mood changes. People with bipolar I experience manic phases involving heightened excitability, energy, and irritability. Periods of sadness, hopelessness, and indifference follow this manic phase.

People may also experience memory, cognitive, and sleep issues.

Some individuals may find that combining supplements and medical treatments helps with symptom management.

However, it is important to note that supplements should not replace medical treatment. Before using supplements, people should also speak with a healthcare professional to avoid potential interactions.

The following supplements have shown promise as complementary treatments for bipolar disorder.

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Omega-3 fatty acids are healthy fats that people can get from fatty fish, flaxseed, or supplements.

A small 2023 study involving 60 people noted reduced depression symptoms and inflammation marker levels in people with bipolar disorder who took 2 grams (g) of omega-3s daily for 2 months.

Researchers of a small 2016 study also found that participants who took 1,000 milligrams (mg) of omega-3 daily for 3 months saw reduced severity of mania symptoms. This means omega-3 may help manage bipolar 1 disorder symptoms along with prescription medications.

An explanation for this may lie in omega-3s targeting of pathways in the brain that bipolar disorder interferes with, according to a 2020 review.

Learn more about omega-3 fatty acids.

B vitamins help the body process and use energy from food and form red blood cells.

Limited studies suggest certain B vitamins may help with bipolar disorder, including thiamine (B1) and folate (B9).

Thiamine

According to a 2021 study involving data from over 7,000 adults, thiamine may help with anxiety — a common co-occurring condition with bipolar disorder. While thiamine may help manage anxiety, there is no evidence to suggest it can help manage bipolar disorder symptoms.

Folate

A review from 2020 suggests folate may be an effective and safe way to reduce depression and mania symptoms in people with bipolar disorder, alongside other treatments.

Tryptophan is an amino acid that plays a role in making proteins.

Several studies have linked tryptophan to improved sleep cycles and reduced sleep disturbances — a potential benefit for people with bipolar disorder experiencing sleep difficulties.

A 2021 systematic review of 11 randomized, controlled trials found significant differences in the moods of people who took 0.14-3 g tryptophan daily compared to those who did not. The tryptophan groups had lower anxiety and improved mood.

However, the studies included in this review did not specifically look at people with bipolar disorder.

The body naturally produces the antioxidant coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10).

In a small placebo-controlled 2019 study involving 69 people with bipolar disorder, those taking 200 mg of CoQ10 daily for 8 weeks had reduced some oxidative stress and inflammation markers during depressive episodes.

A study from 2018 linked this reduction in oxidative stress and inflammation to fewer depressive symptoms during the depressive phase of bipolar disorder.

L-tyrosine is another amino acid that plays a key role in protein formation. It is also a vital ingredient for chemicals in the brain that affect mood and energy, such as dopamine and norepinephrine.

A 2015 review found that tyrosine may protect people in stressful situations from memory problems and cognitive difficulties.

Bipolar disorder resources

Visit our dedicated hub for more research-backed information and in-depth resources on bipolar disorder.

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Many of the above studies highlight the possible effectiveness of these supplements alongside conventional medical treatment.

Treatment for bipolar disorder typically involves prescription medication and psychotherapy.

Medications

Bipolar disorder medications include:

  • Mood stabilizers, including lithium and valproate: These help reduce the frequency and severity of extreme mood shifts.
  • Antidepressants: Doctors may prescribe mood stabilizers with antidepressants for people with bipolar disorder who experience severe depression. Antidepressants alone may trigger rapid mood shifts or manic episodes.
  • Drugs targeting anxiety and sleep disorders: Some medications aim to tackle specific symptoms of bipolar disorder, such as insomnia.

Psychotherapy

People with bipolar disorder may benefit from talking with a mental health professional. Therapy can help people identify and change distressing thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be beneficial for treating depression.

Other therapies

Some other therapies that may help people with bipolar disorder include:

  • Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT): Electric brain stimulation may help people with severe bipolar disorder or who have a high risk of suicide.
  • Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation: This type of brain stimulation involves using magnetic waves to help with depression.
  • Light therapy: Many people with bipolar disorder experience severe seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Light therapy is the most effective evidence-based treatment for SAD.

People should speak with a medical professional before taking supplements to support bipolar disorder treatment. Some supplements can lead to interactions that worsen symptoms.

People who experience symptoms of bipolar disorder but do not yet have a diagnosis should consider speaking to a medical or mental health professional.

Suicide prevention

If you know someone at immediate risk of self-harm, suicide, or hurting another person:

  • Ask the tough question: “Are you considering suicide?”
  • Listen to the person without judgment.
  • Call 911 or the local emergency number, or text TALK to 741741 to communicate with a trained crisis counselor.
  • Stay with the person until professional help arrives.
  • Try to remove any weapons, medications, or other potentially harmful objects if it’s safe to do so.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, a prevention hotline can help. The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available 24 hours a day at 988. During a crisis, people who are hard of hearing can use their preferred relay service or dial 711 then 988.

Find more links and local resources.

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Supplements that may help with bipolar disorder include omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, CoQ10, L-tyrosine, and tryptophan.

The research for many of these is small-scale and inconclusive.

However, alongside a treatment plan involving prescription medications, many have shown promise for treating depression, mania, cognition, and sleep.

If symptoms worsen or treatment does not seem to be helping, people should speak with a doctor or psychiatrist about adjusting their treatment plan.