Manic Depression (commonly called “bipolar”) is a disorder in which the individuals switch between manic episodes and depression. To be diagnosed with bipolar, the patient must either be currently or recently in a manic episode, and must have had one previous depressive, manic, or mixed episode which cannot be accounted for by some other schizoid, psychotic, or delusional disorder.
A manic episode consists of a combination of several characteristics. These characteristics include abnormal and persistently elevated moods or long lasting outgoing or irritable moods. During the mood disturbance, three or more of several symptoms will have persisted. These symptoms include inflated self-esteem or grandiosity, decreased need for sleep, being talkative than usual or feeling pressured to keep talking, flights of ideas, thoughts are racing, distractibility, increase in goal-directed activity as psychomotor agitation, and excessive involvement in pleasurable activities that have a high potential of negative, long term consequences. For example: the individual may go on a shopping spree that results in financial hardship or even debt. In order for the episode to be manic the symptoms must not meet the criteria for a mixed episode. The mood disturbance must also be sufficiently severe to cause marked impairment in occupational functioning or in usual social activities or relationships with others. The individual may become or be a danger to himself/herself, and others, and hospitalization may be necessary to prevent the patient from doing harm to himself/herself or to others..
Sometimes what appears to be a symptom of manic depression may be due to the direct physiological effects of a substance, such as illegal drugs, medications, or general medical conditions such as hyperthyroidism. In these cases, the individual may not actually be bipolar. Today it is believed that bipolar disease is the result of some type of permanent change or difference in the brain’s structure and circuitry. Presently, individuals with manic depression will be treated with medication for their entire lives.
There are many medications for manic depression. Anti-depressants, such as bupropion (Wellbutrin) and the SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are found to be some of the most effective. These, and other, antidepressants may also cause some individuals to go into more manic episodes. Mania is caused by the neurotransmitter systems in parts of the brain, being overactive or misfiring. Mood stabilizers appear to inhibit excessive neuronal signals and are often used to help keep unnecessary signals from starting up. Lithium, which has harmful side effects, is often used as a mood stabilizer.
A nutritional discovery suggests that omega 3 may help ease the symptoms of bipolar patients and work as an alternative to lithium as a mood stabilizing agent by inhibiting neuronal signals. Unfortunately, bipolar may still require a lifetime of treatment with medications, however, with a proper diet including omega-3, the maintenance of bipolar disorder may be easier and more effectively accomplished. Omega-3 is abundant in fish, but most fish is contaminated by mercury and other pollution in the waters. Omega 3 is also found abundant in flaxseed/linseed oil (one of best sources), walnuts, ground flax seeds, soybean oil, and canned spinach. Small amounts are also found in bananas, sweet potatoes, strawberries, and avocados, as well as other foods. If you have bipolar, you may want to increase foods rich in omega-3 to your diet.
Source: Depression and the Way Out