Just recently I was prescribed more medication (Oh no! But hey, It’s seriously gonna be okay),
Folic Acid – 1mg
Why Folic Acid? — you may ask.
There is a connection between folic acid and Bipolar Disorder. The benefits include:
- Relief from depression (Unipolar and Bipolar)
- Relief from Bipolar Mania.
- And much more.
Folic acid and bipolar disorder evidence
Below are a few of the studies showing the benefits of folic acid. These studies explain important folic acid facts. More studies exist, but these ones have abstracts available online that can give you a good indication of the research without being overwhelmingly technical or detailed.
1. A 1996 paper on Folic acid, vitamin B12, and neuropsychiatric disorders found that both folate and vitamin B12 deficiency may cause similar neurological and psychiatric disturbances including depression.
2. A 1997 study Reduced red-cell folic acid in mania found a relationship between folate deficiency and mania.
3. In 2005 it was suggested by a leading expert in this field of research that there was now enough folic acid facts to justify a recommended treatment of a daily folic acid supplement to improve treatment outcomes in depression. See Treatment of depression: time to consider folic acid and vitamin B12. This is incredibly important given the lack of FDA approved anti-depressants for bipolar depression. Most bipolar people spend far more time in depression than in mania, yet there are far fewer effective anti-depressant drugs for bipolar people than there are anti-manic agents.
Folic acid supplements have also been shown to be useful as an add-on to other treatments such as lithium.
It has also been shown that folic acid supplements increased the proportion of severely depressed female patients who responded to fluoxetine (Prozac), as reported Dr. Alec Coppen and Dr. John Bailey of West Park Hospital in Surrey, England.
4. A 1986 double blind study on the benefits of folic acid involving patients receiving lithium therapy showed that the addition
of 200 mcg of folic acid per day resulted in clinical improvement, whereas placebo did not.
This is great because it means we are not being faced with an either/or choice. It seems folic acid supplementation will be helpful if you take no medication, take an SSRI such as Prozac (not advised for bipolar people), or take the
conventional mood stabilizer lithium. You get the folic acid benefit in each scenario.
5. The latest study into the benefits of folic acid and bipolar disorder is still on-going. The PRE-EMPT Trial is attempting to establish whether folic acid supplementation prevents mood disorders in teenagers whose biological mother or father has experienced depression or mania. Check out the link to PRE-EMPT – it is a fascinating study. It commenced in December 2005 and will run for three years.
Folic acid acts by helping the body produce and maintain new cells. Deficiency in folic acid has been associated with both depression and mania. However, to get the benefits of folic acid for treating bipolar or depression it is likely that a higher amount is needed. The research has been carried out using amounts that vary from 0.8 to 2.5 mg. Given that folic acid is perfectly safe at much higher levels than the RDA of 0.4 mg, it seems like a good idea to go for the 0.8 mg daily dose for full folic acid benefit.