Bipolar Disorder and Nutritional Intake

When treating a bipolar disordered client, do you their take nutritional intake into account?

New research presented at the 17th Annual British Association for Counseling and Psychotherapy Research Conference this past May reveals that there is a connection between diet and bipolar disorder, with sugar, caffeine and poor overall eating habits increasing the mood swings of bipolar individuals. The research also indicated that there are noteworthy differences in the eating patterns of these individuals at the onset of bipolar disorder – specifically, sudden increases or decreases in appetite or erratic eating patterns may occur.

My assessment of these findings is that erratic eating behavior together with the excessive consumption of sugar and caffeine isn’t good for any of us, and can certainly exacerbate the DIGFAST manic symptoms of a bipolar sufferer. Sugar and caffeine can’t be good for a manic or hypomanic individual right?

The study’s conclusion that those with bipolar disorder would benefit from nutritional intake awareness counseling is just too obvious. Diet modification can play a vital role in improving and/or alleviating a veritable host of physical and emotional/psychological/psychiatric conditions. In this regard, there’s nothing special about bipolar disorder in my estimation.

Considering the diets of those referred to me for the assessment or treatment of bipolar disorder is not high in the pecking order of things I need to do to help the client get better. I’m much more concerned about getting and keeping them motivated for treatment, stressing the importance of medication compliance to their overall quality of life and survival and building their support system.

Joseph Wegmann, R.Ph., LCSW is a licensed clinical pharmacist and a clinical social worker with more than thirty years of experience in the field of psychopharmacology. His diverse professional background in psychopharmacology and counseling affords him a unique perspective on medication management issues. In addition to consulting with numerous psychiatric facilities, he has presented psychopharmacology seminars to thousands of clinicians in 46 states.

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