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.
What Are The Best Nootropics for Bipolar Disorder – Quick Answers
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 Institute Of Mental Health. 2016
Bipolar Disorder and ADHD
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
READ MORE: How Leaky Brain Affects Your Mental Health
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
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?
In fact, a recently 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 benefits 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.
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?
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 Bipolar Disorder
- May help to treat depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder
- Protects against Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
- Increases levels of lithium in the brain
- Reduces levels of free radicals and inflammation
Lithium is a naturally occurring trace mineral that your body requires for proper metabolism and nerve health.
Lithium orotate works by increasing levels of lithium in the brain. This mineral is known to have mood-stabilizing properties.
In addition, lithium orotate helps to reduce levels of free radicals and inflammation, which are thought to contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s and other degenerative diseases.
Though more research is needed, lithium orotate may be a safe and effective way to treat mental illness and promote brain health.
Magnesium is a mineral that is essential for good health. It is involved in many biochemical processes in the body, including energy production, DNA synthesis, and nerve function. Magnesium deficiency has been linked to several health conditions, including bipolar disorder.
As per several scientific literature, magnesium has demonstrated its effectiveness against severe manic agitation and bipolar disorder. This can be due to the resemblance in chemical structure and properties with Lithium, the drug of choice to stabilize mood and manage bipolar disorder.3G Chouinard , L Beauclair, R Geiser, P Etienne, A pilot study of magnesium aspartate hydrochloride (Magnesiocard) as a mood stabilizer for rapid cycling bipolar affective disorder patients, Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 1990
Hence, regular intake of dietary magnesium may lighten the need and dosage of Lithium. However, it is important to note that magnesium cannot replace Lithium entirely.4Mihai Nechifor, Magnesium in psychoses (schizophrenia and bipolar disorders), University of Adelaide Press; 2011
Magnesium has also been found to help individuals with bipolar disorder who experience gradual irregularities in sleeping patterns prior to the manic episode.5Ewa Poleszak , Bernadeta Szewczyk, Ewa Kedzierska, Piotr Wlaź, Andrzej Pilc, Gabriel Nowak, Antidepressant- and anxiolytic-like activity of magnesium in mice, Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2004
Magnesium Breakthrough is full-spectrum magnesium supplement as it contains seven different forms of magnesium in an optimized ratio to provide best outcome for conditions like insomnia, depression, chronic anxiety and bipolar disorder.
Mind Lab Pro
- Easily balance mood swings, combat depression and anxiety
- Increase focus and mental clarity
- Boost neurotransmitter levels
- Improve memory retention
If you are suffering from bipolar disorder, Mind Lab Pro may be an effective treatment option for you.
By providing patients with the right combination of nutrients, Mind Lab Pro can help to restore the balance and alleviate symptoms.
The 11 included nootropics include the ability to boost neurotransmitters, lower inflammation, and modulate your HPA axis’ stress response.
Ingredients like CDP-choline, Lion’s Mane, and phosphatidylserine enhance acetylcholine, bacopa monnieri, L-theanine, and Pine Bark extract lower inflammation and keep you calm.
Mind Lab Pro is safe and effective, and it has been shown to improve patients’ mood, energy levels, and overall functioning.
The supplements themselves are 3rd party tested and free of excess fillers and toxic ingredients.
I love this stack for nootropic newbies and experienced nootropic users alike.
- Proven to boost overall cognitive performance including memory, focus, mood, creativity, motivation, and overall well-being.
- Potent blend of all-natural nootropics, herbs, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals.
- Good for Experienced Biohackers and those new to nootropics.
- Caffeine Free
- No artificial fillers or toxic preservatives
- Affordable Price
- Ingredients are lower dosed.
- Fewer ingredients than other leading nootropic stacks
Reishi mushroom has been used traditionally for many years to boost the immune system, and support overall mental health.6Emmanuelle Bostock, Kenneth Kirkby, Michael Garry, Bruce Taylor, and Jason A. Hawrelak, Mania Associated With Herbal Medicines, Other Than Cannabis: A Systematic Review and Quality Assessment of Case Reports, Front Psychiatry. 2018
This mushroom has been shown to be successful at treating chronic emotional distress caused by psychiatric disorders like bipolar disorder.7Pengjiao Zeng, Zhihua Guo, Xuan Zeng, Cui Hao, Yiran Zhang, Meng Zhang, Yong Liu, Hui Li, Juan Li, Lijuan Zhang, Chemical, biochemical, preclinical and clinical studies of Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharide as an approved drug for treating myopathy and other diseases in China, JCMM. 2018
In clinical studies, reishi has been found to ease warning signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder which include mood swings, states of confusion, sleeplessness, and overall low mood.8Sissi Wachtel-Galor, John Yuen, John A. Buswell, and Iris F. F. Benzie, Chapter 9Ganoderma lucidum (Lingzhi or Reishi), CRC Press/Taylor & Francis. 2011
Freshcap Mushrooms provide the highest percentage of beta glucans and fruiting body nutrients, making this mushroom product my preferred choice for Reishi.
- May help improve sleep quality and reduce stress levels
- Can be consumed in many different forms, such as capsules, powders, teas, and tinctures
- Used in Asia for centuries as a medicinal mushroom
- Common side effects include gastrointestinal upset and nausea
- Not recommended for people with autoimmune disease or taking immunosuppressive medication
- Most advanced preformulated nootropic stack on the market.
- Packed with 28 cognitive-enhancing ingredients each clinically proven to boost cognition
- Preferred nootropic product for many top biohackers and wellness professionals
- Available in both caffeinated and decaffeinated versions
- Qualia Focus is the sister product to Qualia Mind and comes with fewer ingredients
Qualia Mind is one of the most advanced cognitive enhancing dietary supplements on the market today.
Qualia Mind is a preformulated nootropic stack made by the company Neurohacker Collective, whose mission is to create groundbreaking products that help the body regulate its biochemistry and restore homeostatic balance.
Qualia Mind has been shown to improve focus, energy, and motivation in people with ADHD, and contains a blend of powerful ingredients that work together to support cognitive function and brain health.
Qualia Mind is also non-stimulatory, so it won’t cause the jitters or crash like some other ADHD treatments.
It’s touted by many high performers along with some of the biggest names in the health and wellness space as a nootropic powerhouse!
- Most advanced nootropic formula on the market
- All-natural ingredients
- Clean formula: No toxic fillers or necessary preservatives
- Many positive user testimonials
- Option for less potent Qualia Focus Available
- Over 50% off 1st Bottle
- Use “15INSAVINGS” For Additional 15% Off
- Large dose of 7 pills
- More expensive than most other nootropics
- More ingredients not always better.
Blood Sugar Breakthrough
- Helps stabilize blood sugar levels
- Supports cognitive function and helps improve focus/attention span
- Natural ingredients help stabilize the body’s glucose metabolism
- Easy to take capsules help you focus without the hunger or jitters associated with Adderall
Research shows that the prevalence of Diabetes Mellitus among individuals diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder might be up to three times greater in comparison to the general population.9Roger S McIntyre, Jakub Z Konarski, Virginia L Misener, Sidney H Kennedy, Bipolar disorder and diabetes mellitus: epidemiology, etiology, and treatment implications, Ann Clin Psychiatry. 2005
Patients with glucose metabolism abnormalities are at a higher risk to suffer from bipolar disorder.
A hyperglycemic state induces oxidative stress on the body which is associated with cognitive impairment, and increased irritability, hence, a person may experience more frequent and severe episodes of extreme mood swings that include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression).
Although the detailed mechanisms of the interplay between the brain, endocrine disturbances and psychological disorders are unknown, it is fair to say that formulations such as Blood Sugar Breakthrough, that consist of multipotent ingredients with neuroprotective effects can be very beneficial for overall wellbeing.10Cynthia V Calkin , David M Gardner, Thomas Ransom, Martin Alda, The relationship between bipolar disorder and type 2 diabetes: more than just co-morbid disorders, Ann Med. 201311Tomas Hajek, Roger McIntyre, Martin Alda, Bipolar disorders, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and the brain, Curr Opin Psychiatry. 2016
- Contains natural ingredients that have been clinically proven to help lower blood sugar levels
- Has been shown to help people lose weight
- comes with a money-back guarantee, so you can feel confident that you’re not wasting your money if it doesn’t work for you
- Can be a bit pricey
- Immune boosting properties
- High levels of antioxidants
- Beneficial for people with digestive issues
- Can help protect the body against infection and disease
Chaga mushroom contains naturally occurring molecules that help with chronic neurological symptoms of bipolar disorder such as moody nature, unwarranted aggression, and feeling spontaneously sad.12Zhiguo Li , Junjie Mei, Liping Jiang, Chengyan Geng, Qiujuan Li, Xiaofeng Yao, Jun Cao , Chaga Medicinal Mushroom, Inonotus obliquus (Agaricomycetes) Polysaccharides Suppress Tacrine-induced Apoptosis by ROS-scavenging and Mitochondrial Pathway in HepG2 Cells, Int J Med Mushrooms. 2019
This mushroom improves the overall mind-body connection as it has been proven to boost the immune system and help with multiple health concerns including inflammation, and overwhelming oxidative stress.
It has the potential to protect brain cells and its components against free radicals and support mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, fatigue, and stress.13Honghai Hu Zhenya Zhang Zhongfang Lei Yingnan Yang Norio Sugiura, Comparative study of antioxidant activity and antiproliferative effect of hot water and ethanol extracts from the mushroom Inonotus obliquus, Journal of Bioscience and Bioengineering. 2009
All of these benefits work synergistically to stabilize mental well-being and lower instances of bipolar disorder.14Vijayasree Vayalanellore Giridharan, Rajarajan Amirthalingam Thandavarayan, Tetsuya Konishi, Amelioration of scopolamine induced cognitive dysfunction and oxidative stress by Inonotus obliquus – a medicinal mushroom, Food Funct. 2011
Freshcap Mushrooms provide the highest percentage of beta glucans and fruiting body nutrients, making this mushroom product my preferred choice for Chaga.
- Improve mood and reduce anxiety
- Improve sleep quality
- Reduce stress levels
- Regulate communication between neurons
- Support stress response
GABA is a neurotransmitter that helps to regulate communication between neurons in the brain. It is also involved in stress response, anxiety, and sleeping patterns.
Low levels of GABA have been linked to mood disorders such as depression and anxiety.
Supplementing with GABA has been shown to increase levels of GABA in the brain, which can lead to improved mood and reduced anxiety.
Additionally, GABA supplementation has been shown to improve sleep quality and reduce stress levels.
When taken before bed, GABA can help you to fall asleep more quickly and improve the quality of your sleep.
As a result, GABA can be an effective nootropic for reducing stress, improving sleep, and promoting relaxation.
- Supports cognitive function and memory
- May improve attention and learning ability
- Plays a role in cell signaling, metabolism, and transport of lipids
- A major source of choline, which is necessary for acetylcholine synthesis
Phosphatidylcholine (PC) is a type of phospholipid found in all cellular membranes. It is an important component of lecithin, which is present in egg yolks, soybeans, and sunflower seeds.
PC has a wide variety of functions in the body, including playing a role in cell signaling, metabolism, and transportation of lipids and other molecules.
PC is also a major source of choline, which is used to synthesize the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is involved in memory, attention, and learning.
Research suggests that PC may have cognitive-enhancing effects and could be helpful for treating bipolar disorder and other psychiatric conditions.
- Improve function of mitochondria
- Reduces side effects of medications
- Powerful antioxidant
- Reduce symptoms of bipolar disorder
N-acetylcysteine (NAC) is an amino acid that is converted into the antioxidant glutathione in the body. Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant that helps to protect cells from damage.
NAC has a number of potential health benefits, including reducing the symptoms of bipolar disorder, a mental illness characterized by extreme changes in mood, energy levels, and behavior.
Many people with bipolar disorder take medications that can cause side effects like fatigue and weight gain. NAC may help to reduce these side effects by improving the function of mitochondria, the powerhouses of cells.
Additionally, NAC has been shown to decrease inflammation and help to repair damaged cells. As a result, NAC may be an effective treatment for bipolar disorder and other conditions characterized by inflammation and cell damage.
Citicoline is the most bioavailable source of choline for your brain. Getting adequate levels of choline is important for optimizing attention and focus.
Citicoline can also help improve memory and learning, making it a great choice for students or anyone looking to boost their cognitive performance.
It’s best used in combination with a racetam or acetylcholinesterase inhibitor like Huperzine A. Citicoline has also shown benefits for ADHD when used with caffeine. 15Steven E. Bruce, et al. Improvements in Concentration, Working Memory, and Sustained Attention Following Consumption of a Natural Citicoline-Caffeine Beverage, Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2014
Since citicoline has shown the ability to increase dopamine release, it is a prime candidate as a nootropic for ADHD. It can also improve mood and memory, which are both often seen with ADHD.
Some people also find that this nootropic increases their mood.
Citicoline dosage typically ranges from 250-1000 mg per day. When starting out, it’s always best to start with a lower dose and increase as needed.
If you’re looking for a natural way to improve your cognitive function, Citicoline is definitely worth considering.
Learn more about Citicoline
- Great choice for students or anyone looking to boost their cognitive performance
- Improves focus, attention, and impulse control in people with ADHD
- Generally well tolerated and side effects are rare.
- All-natural supplement
- Easily found online or in health food stores
- May cause stomach upset, headache, dizziness, and insomnia
Adrafinil is a cognitive enhancer that has been shown to improve memory, motivation, and wakefulness in clinical trials.
Of all the supplements on this list, adrafinil is probably the most stimulatory in how Adderall is (although to a significantly lesser degree).
Adrafinil is structurally similar to modafinil and shares many of the same mechanisms of action. The human body metabolizes adrafinil into modafinil, so you do not need a prescription to buy it. However, adrafinil is not as potent as modafinil and has a shorter half-life.
The exact mechanisms of action are not completely clear, but scientists believe Adrafinil modulates the dopamine system but also acts on the histamine, GABA, and glutamate systems.
Although it is somewhat similar to Adderall, this nootropic does not have nearly the potential for damage or abuse.
If you need a little kick to get going, we think that adrafinil is a much healthier option.
- Adrafinil has been shown to improve working memory, executive function, and vigilance in healthy adults.
- In one study, adrafinil was found to be as effective as methylphenidate (Ritalin) at reducing ADHD symptoms.
- May also help to improve cognitive function in people with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
- Can help you stay awake longer
- Most common side effects reported are headache, nausea, and anxiety.
- Adrafinil is a schedule IV controlled substance in Canada and is classified as a prescription drug.
- not currently approved by the FDA
Is there another Nootropic or supplement out there you are using to treat bipolar symptoms?
Let us know in the comments!