In the documentary 'The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive' (linked on the right), Stephen Fry talks to a woman who manages her bipolar disorder without drugs, by paying close attention to what she eats. Now the psychiatrist who diagnosed me said that food has no effect on bipolar disorder, but a) he was talking about it triggering, rather than preventing, episodes, & b) the woman in the documentary was also a psychiatrist! So it sounded quite promising to me, & I promised myself I would look it up.
Well, I have, & I have to say it sounds good. I've added a link to a couple of the better sites I found, but the general gist is as follows:
Fish!!!!! Oily fish, such as salmon, mackerel, tuna etc. These are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which apparently help with regulating mood, as well as keeping your heart healthy. Bonus! Personally I was jumping for joy after reading this, because my favourite food is salmon. Smoked, baked, fried ... i love it! Now if I can convince my lovely fantastic-cook boyfriend to cook it more often, I'm on to a winner ...
But if you don't like fish, the cod liver oil supplements you can buy in the supermarket will do the trick. So will seeds & nuts like walnuts, sunflower seeds & so on.
The fish thing was the main example given by the woman in the documentary; she said that she would eat fish at any given opportunity as well as taking supplements. However, a lot of sites report that there isn't enough evidence to support this, so at the moment it's a possibility rather than a definite help. Still, if it means I get to eat more salmon, I'm willing to play guinea pig ...
St John's Wort is a common herbal treatment for depression; however it can play havoc if you're on the contraceptive pill, which I am, so unfortunately I won't be trying this one out. If anyone has any experience with this, though, I'd love to hear it.
Diets high in fat or salt are also mentioned as being problematic, because they might interfere with some medications. I'm not on medication - yet - so I'm going to pass over this for now. But there's more information in the articles.
Avoid stimulants & depressants. This means cut down or avoid alcohol, which is - as I'm sure everyone knows - a depressant. No problem for me there; I rarely drink. It also means cutting down or avoiding caffeine & sugar. Now THIS is a problem. I don't drink much, I don't smoke, & I don't do drugs, & I don't have much of a sweet tooth, but my one vice is Coke (the fizzy stuff that comes in cans, not the white stuff that gets you thrown in jail!). I love it. I've tried to cut down on it several times in the past because it is ruining my teeth (I have way too many fillings already), with ...er, variable success. I'm definitely drinking less than I used to. But if I'm going to test this out, I think I'm going to have to cut down on it even more. I also drink a lot of tea. So it's decaffeinated tea for me from now on, & ... does anyone know a good caffeine-free alternative to Coke?