Diet quality can affect many aspects of one’s physical health and psychological well-being. New research investigates whether or not these factors can also affect the effectiveness of treatments for mood disorders — particularly bipolar.
The moods of people who have bipolar disorderfluctuate between two extremes.
These are the “highs,” during which the person feels euphoric and may engage in dangerous behaviors, and the “lows,” characterized by depression and lethargy.
Since two opposite mood extremes characterize this disorder, it is often difficult to treat both the “highs” (or “manic episodes”) and the “lows” (or “depressive episodes”) with the same efficacy.
New research presented at the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology congress, held in Barcelona, Spain, now suggests that weight and dietary habits may influence how effective treatments for bipolar disorder actually are.
In particular, a healthful diet may aid therapy for depressive episodes, note the study authors. They also explain that, conversely, a poor diet could contribute to heightened inflammation, which may have a negative impact on a person’s symptoms.
“If we can confirm these results, then it’s good news for people with bipolar disorder, as there is a great need for better treatments for the depressive phase of bipolar disorder,” states lead researcher Melanie Ashton, from Deakin University in Geelong, Australia.
The team comprised scientists from numerous academic and research institutions across Australia, Germany, and the United States.
How diet may impact therapy results
Ashton and colleagues conducted a clinical trial for which they recruited 181 participants, of whom 133 provided all the data necessary for the final analysis. All the participants experienced bipolar depression, which is the depressive phase of bipolar disorder.
For a period of 16 weeks, the team randomly allocated all the participants to receive one of three types of treatment:
- a mix of nutraceuticals (or natural nutrients sometimes used as alternatives to drugs and that may help treat or prevent chronic diseases), including the anti-inflammatory substance n-acetylcysteine (NAC)
- only NAC
- a placebo