Posted August 24, 2008
I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder in 1998, suffering from depression and hypomania since its first manifestation in 1985. The changes then were subtle, like the progression of the disease. Subtle until it smacks you in the face. While attending college in 1988 I had my first psychotic depression. I was psychologically not-right for a few weeks, mostly crying at silly things and angry at anything, but that morning I felt like I was on drugs. When I entered my lecture hall I was blurred with confusion and I could not find the classroom I already attended for several weeks. I put my bag down I sat against a brick wall. My mind was agitated and racing. Then I suddenly felt I was the building, that I was tapping into its emotions. The students were walking on my body and my spine cringed with every scrape of metal chairs on linoleum floors. I had the overwhelming feeling that I needed to stop the students from coming in the building and it was kindling into action. Someone noticed I was not well and helped me break my delusion by asking if I needed any help. I declined and I managed to walk back to my room, which I cowered in for a week, neglecting school and only coming out to eat. A few days later I dropped out.
Since that episode, the cycles came and went, always getting worse, always being more disruptive. The depression was the biggest trouble maker for me, with the hypomania being a welcome, non-hallucinatory high. It took me seven years to graduate college with one break and three different majors. After I graduated I moved, and moved again, and had fifteen different jobs between 1992 and 1996. My employment and relationships were gained and lost in an effort to start anew after each embarrassing expression of this disorder.
While working for Cisco Systems in 1998 I felt the change happening again; the onset anger, the unrequested sadness, the appearance of patterns in the patternless. It was a stressful job and I was exceedingly good at it, and I did not want to be unemployed again, so I decided for the first time in my life that something was wrong with my brain and went to a psychiatrist for a help. Unfortunately, he was a lazy doctor. He diagnosed me with ADHD and prescribed Ritalin. It threw me into my worst manic episode. That reaction was the method of my diagnosis. I had to leave Cisco Systems but they were extremely helpful, mainly, I believe, because of the CEO, John Chambers.
My life turned into a quest for a return to my natural state. I tried Lithium, Depakote, Zyprexa, Paxil, Welbutrin, Lamictal, Prozac, Celexa, Xanax, all with some results and all with bad side effects. I never felt normal and I still had uncontrollable thoughts like the repetitive image of slicing my face with a knife. Even with all these drugs I was still admitted to psychiatric hospitals in 2002 and 2005. I managed an endless repetition of simple jobs, mostly working in supermarkets as a cashier, all the while going in and out of psychiatric care and on and off medications. I was unemployable and usually heavily medicated. In 2006 I tried Seroquel and it seemed to be the right drug for me. I could take a below therapeutic dose so I did not suffer the side effects, and my moods, while not gone, were manageable enough so I could ignore them. As long as I did not suffer the slightest bit of stress I could manage my life.
During the same years since 1998 I became interested in Buddhism and saw it as a way to ignore my hallucinations of thought. I practiced insight meditation and devoured texts on the subject. The realization that my thoughts were not me enabled me to handle stress more effectively, and therefore lower my levels of stress. I found my self sitting in meditation for hours sensing the most minute swirls of energy in my body. Meditative practice enabled me not to act on every aberrant thought that popped into in my head. Something we could all use, yes?
I also became fascinated with Biological Psychology. There is a very strong genetic link to the expression of Bipolar Disorder in my family. My Mother, two brothers, and nephew were also diagnosed with some form of the disorder. Three of them attempted suicide and one succeeded. There are even some stories of a Great Grandmother who was know to be rather odd. My mother also suffers from Fibromyalgia which is linked with Bipolar Disorder. After gaining some insight on the biology of the brain I experimented with dietary restrictions and supplements and started making some loose connections. I felt that B vitamins helped and that I was also sensitive to certain foods additives. Gluten (glutamate) had interesting effects on my body and my mind. Monosodium Glutamate is hidden in many foods but I could always know if it was in a food by a slight swelling of my tongue or a sometimes violent intestinal reaction. (I know my mother and I suffered “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome” from an early age and I find this genetically interesting). Casein, a protein in milk products, which act similarly to glutamate in the body, was the cause of my outbreaks of Seborrheic Dermatitis. I could quickly reverse the outbreak with Vitamin B6 and Biotin supplements. I also found that Inositol would trigger a mania. These experiments and results needed a special endurance. For several days I would eat nothing but water and brown rice and then slowly add foods to my diet, noting the mental and physical reaction I had to a food. Around January of 2007 I felt I had my diet under enough control that I could stop taking my medication. It worked, but it was always work, and I always felt the uneasiness that is too hard to explain.
In July 2007, after reading about the life span experiments and health benefits of Resveratrol, I started taking 100mg of the polyphenol per day. I did not realize it was the reason for my change because it was so gradual. I found myself more fit, but more importantly I felt calm. The bipolar buzz seemed to vanish and I was not the only one who noticed the change. One of my survival skills was to always note how people were interacting with me. I would see the confused look on people’s faces and know I was talking too fast. Or I would note the arching in towards me when I was depressed. Other times they just told me I was crazy. But now people were remarking on how “mature” I had become and how I had changed. I still did not credit Resveratrol and I felt it was caused by my dietary changes (which did help) and the B6 and Biotin I was taking.
Feeling this might give some clues on a cure I started contacting researchers about the role of vitamins and Bipolar Disorder. One scientist responded with some interest and showed me a study she had performed showing that the brain cells of people with Bipolar Disorder have something wrong with cell metabolism. And that is when it all clicked together.
I remembered another study that showed Resveratrol improved mitochondrial function and protects against metabolic disease which led me to dig deeper. I then found that Resveratrol inhibited excitatory synaptic transmission by in rat hippocampus. Important because it works by suppressing glutamate-induced currents. Glutamate; there it was again. I will list all the studies below I feel have to do with Resveratrol’s role in curing my Bipolar Disorder, but the studies are nothing compared to how I feel. I feel calm, normal, and good. To anyone else this might sound like nothing special, but if you were paralyzed and could walk again you would know how I feel.
I want to stress that if you have Bipolar Disorder DO NOT take Resveratrol without talking to your doctor. This is very new research and I took it upon myself to take the risk of doing these things to myself. I am very CAREFUL and very METHODICAL about what I do. It takes a constant and deep awareness of your body and mind to undertake this method. I am writing this mainly to get the attention of the medical community so they will commit to more research on the subject. Because even without Resveratrol, I was managing a very difficult case of Bipolar Disorder without medication. At some point I will stop the Resveratrol to see of the epigenetic changes are permanent. The one thing I recommend you do is try to remove as much glutamate from your diet as possible. If you think that will be easy, think again. Here is a list of foods that have, or are hidden sources of glutamate.
Whatever path you take I wish you the best of luck.
Following are the studies that led me to the conclusion that Resveratrol can be used as a cure for Bipolar Disorder.
- Differences in Lymphocyte Electron Transport Gene Expression Levels Between Subjects With Bipolar Disorder and Normal Controls in Response to Glucose Deprivation Stress
- Resveratrol attenuates early pyramidal neuron excitability impairment and death in acute rat hippocampal slices caused by oxygen-glucose deprivation
- Glial cell number and neuron/glial cell ratios in postmortem brains of bipolar individuals
- GLUTAMATE TRANSPORTER BLOCKADE AFFECTS Ca2 RESPONSES IN ASTROCYTES
- Resveratrol Increases Glutamate Uptake, Glutathione Content, and S100B Secretion in Cortical Astrocyte Cultures
- Increased cerebrospinal fluid levels of S100B protein in rat model of mania induced by ouabain
- cis- and trans-Resveratrol Are Glucuronidated in Rat Brain, Olfactory Mucosa and Cultured Astrocytes
- Monosodium glutamate-induced lesions in the rat cingulate cortex
- Reduced Glial Cell Density and Neuronal Size in the Anterior Cingulate Cortex in Major Depressive Disorder
- Abnormal Glutamatergic Neurotransmission and Neuronal-Glial Interactions in Acute Mania
- Resveratrol attenuates oxidative-induced DNA damage in C6 Glioma cells
- Resveratrol stimulates AMP kinase activity in neurons
- Inhibitory effects of cis- and trans-resveratrol on noradrenaline and 5-hydroxytryptamine uptake and on monoamine oxidase activity
- Resveratrol Improves Mitochondrial Function and Protects against Metabolic Disease by Activating SIRT1 and PGC-1a
- Neurogenesis directed by Sirt1
- SIRT1 and neuronal diseases
For more about Resveratrol and mood disorders, check out Christian’s blog Resveratrol and Mood Disorders.