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Bipolar Disorder Self Care

by Patty E. Fleener M.S.W.

Vitamins and Herbs

I do not recommend these in lieu of medication. Bipolar disorder is a medical disorder that requires a lifetime of medication. Many people literally gamble with their lives by thinking that vitamins, herbs and nutritional supplements can be taken *instead of* medication. This attitude opens one up to episodes of mania and depression.

I do not know if Vitamins and Herbs will assist you. I am not a Dr., nor a nutritionist. You will have to make your own judgment.

  Omega 3 Fatty Acids - "fish oil"
Studies are showing these fatty acids to help with bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder and depression.  More studies need to be done.

There is an excellent book entitled "The Omega-3 Connection: The Groundbreaking Anti-depression Diet and Brain Program."

  Free Form Amino Acid Complex (Take on empty stomach as directed on label, twice daily)

  L-Tyrosine (500 mg. twice daily and again at bedtime. Take on empty stomach. Do not take with milk. Take with 50 mg. vitamin b6 and 100 mg. vitamin C for better absorption.

  Taurine (500 mg. 3 times daily on an empty stomach).

  High quality multivitamin, multimineral formula (including zinc and selenium) with plenty of B vitamins. Take at least twice, preferably three times daily. No Iron!

  Zinc: (50 mg. daily; do not exceed 100 mg daily from all supplements).

  Pyridoxyl-5-phospate (a special forum of vitamin B6) - take 50 milligrams per day.

  Vitamin B Complex (100 mg 3 times daily)

  Vitamin B 12 (15 mg twice daily on an empty stomach)

  Extra Magnesium - 350 - 500 milligrams per day. (Another source says 750 milligrams per day). Do not use magnesium oxide as it is poorly absorbed. Magnesium glycinate, citrate, or chloride are acceptable. If you get diarrhea, decrease the dose. Check with your Dr. before taking magnesium supplements if you have kidney disease.

  Calcium (1,500 mg daily) if you do not eat diary products regularly

  Vitamin C:  3,000 - 6,000 mg. daily

  For people who have only a very mild unipolar depression, St. John's wort or 5-HTP *might* be helpful. It takes 6 to 8 weeks for St. John's wort to begin to work and it is not recommended for women trying to become pregnant or for someone with a family history of breast cancer.

  5-HTP works faster and is recommended for people who are more agitated and cannot sleep. 5-HTP is expensive as large doses are many times required. 

  SAMe is another alternative if the person can afford it.

  Calming herb tea like chamomile

If You Become Manic or Irritable

Turn the lights down. No loud sounds. Remove yourself from stressful situations. Take any medication your Dr. recommends. Call Dr. if needed. Slow deep breathing. Close your eyes and do some guided imagery. Imagine yourself in a safe, beautiful place where you are completely relaxed.

Remedyfind (an unbiased, international site that allows individuals and healthcare professionals to rate the effectiveness of the different treatments they have used for specific health conditions - including Bipolar Disorder and Depression). I strongly encourage you to check out this site as people have rated different treatment methods for several different disorders, the bipolar disorder as well, as to how effective each one is. 


The Depression Sourcebook, Second Edition, Brian P. Quinn, C.S.W., Ph. D., Lowell House, 1997, 1998, 2000.

New Hope for People with Bipolar Disorder, Jan Fawcett, M.D., Bernard Golden, Ph. D., and Nancy Rosenfeld, Prima Health, 2000.

Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder: Understanding and Helping Your Partner, Julie A. Fast, John D. Preston, Psy.D., New Harbinger, 2004

Living Without Depression and Manic Depression: A Workbook for Maintaining Mood Stability, Mary Ellen Copeland, New Harbinger Pubns; 10th edition, September 1994.

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