Lithium for bipolar disorder

Nootropics For Bipolar Disorder

  • Bipolar disorder is a complex condition that requires professional help in most cases

  • Certain nootropics may take the edge off the rapid swings associated with this disorder

  • Nootropics could be useful as part of a holistic approach to smooth out and stabilize the highs and lows define BPD

Bipolar Disorder (BD) is a psychiatric disorder characterized by mood disturbances with recurrent episodes of mania, hypomania, and depression.1Vihang N. Vahia. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders 5: A quick glance Indian J Psychiatry. 2013

Also known as manic-depression, bipolar depression is prevalent in about 2-3% of the population. It is a chronic, lifetime disorder that can be debilitating if left unchecked. Luckily, it is treatable through therapy and medication.

And, there is evidence that nootropic supplements may be useful for some people with bipolar disorder as an adjunct treatment.

Types of Bipolar Disorder

There are multiple varieties of bipolar disorder, each with distinct symptoms:

  • Bipolar I Disorder: defined by manic episodes that last at least 7 days, or by manic symptoms that are so severe that the person needs immediate hospital care. Usually, depressive episodes occur as well, typically lasting at least 2 weeks. Episodes of depression with mixed features (having depression and manic symptoms at the same time) are also possible.
  • Bipolar II Disorder: defined by a pattern of depressive episodes and hypomanic episodes, but not the full-blown manic episodes of Bipolar I.
  • Cyclothymic Disorder (cyclothymia): defined by periods of hypomanic symptoms as well as numerous periods of depressive symptoms lasting for at least 2 years (1 year in children and adolescents). However, the symptoms do not meet the diagnostic requirements for a hypomanic episode and a depressive episode.

Other Specified and Unspecified Bipolar and Related Disorders: defined by bipolar disorder symptoms that do not match the three categories listed above.2Bipolar Disorder, National Instistute Of Mental Health. 2016

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Bipolar disorder is a very common mental health issue that effects about 3% of the population according to some estimates

Bipolar Disorder and ADHD

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and bipolar disorder (BD) are highly correlated.3Pataki C, Carlson GA. Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2013

Both disorders involve similar executive function deficits.4Goldberg JF, Chengappa KN. Bipolar Disord. 2009

In fact, emotional and cognitive deficits are present in each disorder and can appear similar. Mood lability (uncontrollable, exaggerated, rapid changes in mood) in ADHD can appear similar to mood dysregulation in BD.5Miller S, Chang KD, Ketter TA. J Clin Psychiatry. 2013

Similarly, manic episodes in BD can be mistaken as hyperactivity, a trademark symptom of ADHD.6Author Name. Curr Med Res Opin. 2014

Is Bipolar A Disability?

According to the World Health Organization, bipolar disorder is a severe psychiatric illness that has been ranked as one of the 20 leading medical causes of disability.7World Health Organization. WHO. 2011

Bipolar disorder continues to be associated with substantial morbidity and mortality. It ranks behind only depression and alcohol abuse for related disabilities and overall economic load.8Alan D. Lopez & Christopher C.J.L. Murray. Nature. 1998

Traditional Bipolar Disorder Treatment Efficacy

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Some nootropics may potentially be useful adjuncts to traditional therapy

There has been a substantial expansion of research into bipolar disorder and potential treatments during the past two decades. Despite this, true advances have been few.

The underlying mechanism of this disease is largely unknown, and many of the current treatments are just extensions of treatments for other conditions. For example, using antipsychotics for manic episodes, and antidepressants for depressive episodes.

Lithium remains unique because its main therapeutic use is in bipolar disorder, so investigating its mechanism of action is crucially important in the identification of future targets.9John R Geddes, David J Miklowitz Lancet. 2013

The treatment of bipolar depression is a major challenge, with few treatments of proven efficacy and, in particular, substantial controversy about the role of antidepressant drugs.

Are Anti-depressants Effective in Treating Bipolar Disorder?

Antidepressants are commonly used to treat BD with little evidence they are effective. 10John R Geddes, David J Miklowitz Lancet. 2013 11Yatham LN, et al. Bipolar Disord. 2013

In fact, a recent updated meta-analysis of antidepressants in bipolar depression reported that the statistically significant effects were no different from placebo.12Sidor MM, MacQueen GM. Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2012

The antiepileptic drug lamotrigine has shown promise, at least initially. Researchers investigated it after they saw some clinical benefit with the drug in patients with bipolar disorder.13Weisler RH, et al. J Affect Disord. 2008

However, a meta-analysis of individual patient-level data from five trials of lamotrigine in bipolar depression reported a modest treatment effect; however, no one trial showed statistically significant benefits of treatment with lamotrigine in comparison with placebo.

Thus, the place of lamotrigine in acute treatment remains uncertain.14Geddes JR, Calabrese JR, Goodwin GM. Br J Psychiatry. 2009

To date, lithium remains the most effective clinical medication for bipolar disorder.

Non-Medication Treatments for Bipolar Disorder

Psychological therapy (with or without medication) specifically designed for bipolar disorder is effective in preventing or delaying relapses in bipolar disorders.15Miklowitz DJ, et al. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2008

One study reported that patients who received 12–14 sessions of cognitive-behavioral therapy were less likely to have depressive episodes and had better social functioning than patients who did not for years afterward.16Kessing LV, et al. Br J Psychiatry. 2013

It also appears that family-focused therapy is effective (in combination with pharmaceuticals) in stabilizing bipolar depressive symptoms among adolescents.17Miklowitz DJ, et al. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2008

Treating circadian rhythm irregularities by improving sleep has also shown a lot of promise for patients with bipolar disorder, who often have sleep disorders.18Frank E, et al. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2005

Why Nootropics for Bipolar Disorder?

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There’s a number of holistic options that may be effective for this condition

Nootropic supplements may be an option for treating some of the symptoms of bipolar disorder. They tend to have a much milder side effect profile than traditional pharmaceuticals.

However, these supplements should not be considered a substitute for treatment by a licensed physician. Therapy and medication are still the most reliable ways to manage bipolar disorder, and nootropics are not a substitute for professional help.

However, there is evidence that some of them can help certain aspects associated with bipolar disorder.

Best Nootropics For Bi-Polar Disorder

Mind Lab Pro

Mind Lab Pro is a preformulated Nootropic "stack" that includes 11 cognitive-enhancing ingredients that work synergistically to deliver next-level brain optimization.

As opposed to taking just one, or even a few individual nootropics, Mind Lab Pro's formulation is designed to give you the right doses of each nootropic to deliver the best results.

In the case of bipolar disorder you want something that boosts neurotransmitters, lowers inflammation, and modulates your HPA axis' stress response.

Mind Lab Pro includes a number of nootropics that work together to check these boxes.

You also get B-vitamin co-factors to better optimize absorbability.

I love this stack for nootropic newbies and experienced nootropic users alike.

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Uridine Monophosphate

There is some preliminary evidence that uridine monophosphate may be able to treat depressive symptoms in adolescents.19Douglas G. Kondo, et al. J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol. 2011

Uridine monophosphate is a naturally occurring compound that forms part of your body’s RNA. It is critical for cellular metabolism and can improve overall cognition.

Theoretically, this could ease some of the symptoms of this disease.

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Lithium Orotate

Lithium nootropic

Lithium is a critical element that your body needs in small amounts. It may also treat symptoms of bipolar disorder.

Lithium is a naturally occurring trace mineral that your body requires for proper metabolism and nerve health.

Introduced by John Cade in 1949, lithium remains the best established long-term treatment for bipolar disorder.20CADE JF. Med J Aust. 1949

A meta-analysis of five placebo-controlled lithium maintenance trials showed that lithium significantly reduces the risk of manic relapses.21Geddes JR, et al. Am J Psychiatry. 2004

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Phosphatidylcholine

Choline supplementation could be useful for patients suffering from bipolar disorder alongside lithium treatment.22Stoll AL, et al. Biol Psychiatry. 1996

According to one case study, phosphatidylcholine showed significant improvements in insomnia for a patient with rapid cycling BD.23Shitao Rao, et al. Springerplus. 2015

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GABA

Research implicates abnormalities in the GABA receptor system as a potential cause of bipolar disorder. 24Stoll AL, et al. Biol Psychiatry. 1996

It is possible that supplementing with GABA may be useful for this condition.

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NAC

NAC is a powerful antioxidant that fights inflammation caused by stress. Therefore, it may be useful in fighting some symptoms of bipolar disorder as an add-on treatment.25P Ellegard, et al. International Journal of Bipolar Disorders. 2018

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Citicoline

Like phosphatidylcholine, citicoline is a powerful source of choline. This makes it potentially valuable for treating this disorder.

There is one trial that suggests this may be the case, although it was specifically looking at bipolar patients who also had cocaine addictions.26Brown ES, et al. Am J Psychiatry. 2015

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Modafinil

Modafinil is an atypical stimulant that may be effective for treating fatigue and depressive symptoms in patients with bipolar disorder. It also has a much lower side-effect profile than traditional stimulants.27Goss AJ, et al. J Clin Psychiatry. 2013 28Calabrese JR, et al. J Clin Psychiatry. 2010


Wrapping Up

Is there another Nootropic or supplement out there you are using to treat bipolar symptoms?

Let us know in the comments!

About the author:

Erik Levi

Erik Levi is a co-founder of HolisticNootropics.com and a certified holistic nutritional therapy practitioner.

As an NTP Erik takes a nutrition first approach to health. He has worked with many different people to help them use nutrition to optimize their quality of life.

Erik believes that mental health is a physiological process and cognitive enhancement is not something that can be achieved by just taking some pills with good Amazon reviews.

Instead, true cognitive enhancement comes with the right balance of nutrients, movement, and gratitude. Erik continues to stay up to date with the most current nootropic and holistic health research and promises to deliver the best solutions possible.

You can check out his personal health blog/podcast/YouTube Channel all under the name Holistic A-Hole.

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