How Can Exercise Help Bipolar Disorder?

Exercise Help Bipolar Disorder

Exercise and bipolar disorder

A mental health disease known as bipolar disorder can lead a person to alternate between low, depressive moods and high, manic moods. People who suffer from bipolar disorder are prone to experiencing mood swings that are not only more severe but also more unpredictable than those that are experienced by the average person.

Medication and talk therapy are the two main pillars of treatment for bipolar disorder. However, research has shown that including physical activity as part of a person’s treatment plan can have additional beneficial effects for some patients. Continue reading to find out more information about the effects that exercise can have on people who suffer from bipolar disorder.

Traditional counseling services offered via the internet

You can receive help through phone, video, or live chat sessions with one of the therapists in BetterHelp’s network who specialize in treating the symptoms of your disease. Plans begin at $60 per week, and you’ll receive an additional 20% off your first month’s payment.

The difficulties associated with bipolar disorder and physical activity

The majority of people will notice an improvement in their mood after engaging in physical activity. Endorphins, also known as the “feel good” chemicals in the brain, are produced in your body when you engage in physical activity. Increased amounts of endorphins can, over time, lead to improved feelings of well-being. People who suffer from depression are typically encouraged to participate in physical activity for this same reason. Exercise can also assist you combat stress.

It is reasonable to believe that those who suffer from bipolar disorder could benefit from engaging in physical activity as a result of these advantages. According to the findings of a study review conducted in 2015 by Trusted Source, this is sometimes the case but not always.

For instance, one of the studies included in the review discovered that exercise helped relieve hypomanic symptoms, which are symptoms that are less severe than manic episodes, for some patients who have bipolar illness. Additionally, it helped folks have a better night’s sleep. In addition, the findings of the study suggested that some physical activities can help some individuals experience a sense of calm. The activities in question are things like walking, running, and swimming.

On the other hand, the same study found that some persons with bipolar disorder experienced a worsening of their manic symptoms when they exercised. It has the potential to have a “spiraling” effect, making manic and hypomanic episodes significantly worse.

Additional research has come to the same conclusions. In one study from 2013, researchers developed a program for persons with bipolar disorder who were overweight that included training in exercise, proper diet, and overall wellness. They observed that the training did, in fact, lead to improvements in both participants’ health and their weight. The individuals reported less signs and symptoms of depression as a result, and their general functioning was enhanced. On the other hand, they pointed out that their findings also suggested that physical activity might make manic symptoms worse.

Bipolar disorder and the associated health risks of exercise

The mood isn’t the only thing that might be affected by bipolar disorder. If you suffer from this illness, you have a greater chance of developing further health problems.

According to findings from research that was published in 2015, Trusted Source individuals with bipolar disorder may have an increased chance of developing a variety of health issues, including but not limited to the following:

  • obesity
  • stroke
  • diseases of the heart
  • diabetes mellitus type 2

The findings of the study also demonstrated that not only are these health concerns a cause for concern for your overall health, but they may also exacerbate the symptoms of bipolar illness in certain people.

The increased sedentary behavior (nonphysical activity) that is connected with the illness might be one of the reasons why these already elevated health risks are getting even worse. People who are living with mental illness were shown to be more sedentary than people who did not have mental illness in a study that was conducted in 2017 (Reliable Source). And among individuals who suffered from mental illness, those with bipolar disorder were the most prone to sitting about all day.

Exercising, which is the antithesis of sitting about all day, can lower your risk of developing additional health problems that are linked to bipolar illness or prevent them from becoming worse if you already have them. It can assist you in controlling your weight and minimize the likelihood that you will suffer from a stroke, cardiovascular disease, or type 2 diabetes.

Both exercise and weight gain caused by bipolar illness drugs are recommended.

As was mentioned before, those who suffer from bipolar disorder are more likely to struggle with obesity. It is possible that the usage of particular drugs to treat bipolar disorder is to blame for the weight increase in some of these instances. It’s possible that the medications will induce changes in your metabolism, which would hinder your body from burning calories as effectively as it did in the past. It’s also possible that the medications will merely make you hungrier.

The following categories of pharmaceuticals may contribute to an increase in body mass:

  • antidepressants
  • antipsychotics
  • combined antidepressant and antipsychotic medication
  • mood stabilizers

Talk to your healthcare provider if you notice that you are unexpectedly putting on weight after beginning treatment with any of these medications. If your weight gain is out of control, your doctor may advise you to switch to a different medicine. However, it is imperative that you never stop taking a drug or alter your dosage without first consulting your physician.

In other circumstances, increasing the amount of physical activity you engage in can be the key to your successful weight loss. Both the increased calorie expenditure and the increased muscle mass that can be achieved by exercise contribute to a reduction in overall body fat.


Although bipolar illness is a condition that lasts a lifetime, it is one that may be controlled with the right treatment. Although medicine is the major treatment option for bipolar illness, physical activity can also be beneficial in managing the condition. It is possible that in many situations, this can help minimize the symptoms of bipolar illness, as well as lessen the higher risk of certain health issues that are associated with bipolar disorder.

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America suggests that patients who suffer from bipolar disorder engage in physical activity for thirty minutes, three to five times per week. Therefore, you should discuss the possibility of adding exercise to your course of treatment with your primary care provider. In addition to that, make sure you complete the following:

  • Before beginning a new exercise routine, especially if you are a beginner in the realm of physical activity, you should first consult your primary care physician.
  • Stop immediately any activity that is causing you pain or any worsening of your symptoms, and make an appointment with your primary care physician.
  • If you begin a new fitness regimen and observe that your manic symptoms worsen, you should make an appointment with your primary care physician as soon as possible.

It is important to bear in mind that different types of physical activity are effective for different people while you are working with your physician to determine the best exercise plan for you. Experiment with a variety of strategies until you find one that suits your needs the most.

6 Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Low-Dose Naltrexone (LDN) Treatment for Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a condition that affects a person’s mental health and is characterized by alternating periods of extreme mood symptoms. If you have bipolar disorder, you may experience:

  • bouts of depression in which you have feelings of sadness, weariness, or numbness
  • Manic or hypomanic episodes, in which you experience feelings of euphoria, irritability, or anxiety;
  • any one of the two sorts of episodes

The treatment for bipolar disorder often consists of a combination of talk therapy and medication, both of which are discussed in greater detail in the following paragraphs.

Of fact, these currently available treatments for bipolar disorder may not be effective for everyone, and some drugs come with a number of undesirable side effects. Because of this, researchers never stop looking into new possible drugs that could aid in the treatment of bipolar disorder.

The medicine naltrexone, which is normally used to treat substance use disorder, is one of the drugs that is now being researched (SUD). Some preliminary research indicates that low dosage naltrexone (LDN), also known as “naltrexone maintenance,” may help minimize the frequency of mood episodes.

You may find the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the use of naltrexone in the treatment of bipolar illness in the following paragraphs, including the reasons why a low dose may be effective as part of the treatment.

Traditional counseling services offered via the internet

You can receive help through phone, video, or live chat sessions with one of the therapists in BetterHelp’s network who specialize in treating the symptoms of your disease. Plans begin at $60 per week, and you’ll receive an additional 20% off your first month’s payment.

  1. Can you explain what naltrexone is?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted approval for the use of the pharmaceutical naltrexone as a treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD) as well as opioid use disorder (OUD) (OUD).

It accomplishes its purpose primarily through two mechanisms: first, it helps diminish cravings, and second, it cuts off the endorphin and opioid receptors that are present in your brain.

If you take naltrexone at the same time that you consume alcohol or use opioids, those substances will not induce the feelings of euphoria that they normally would.

While there is some evidence to support naltrexone as a treatment for bipolar illness, the majority of studies that have been conducted to far have focused on persons who have both substance use disorder and bipolar disorder. This is probably due to the fact that the two situations tend to occur together quite frequently. In point of fact, somewhere between forty percent and seventy percent of persons who have bipolar disorder have also struggled with alcohol use disorder at some point in their lives.

Although it is very common for substance use disorder (SUD) and bipolar disorder (BD) to occur simultaneously, very few research have investigated how treating SUD with naltrexone can alter the symptoms of BD in patients who also have BD.

In a preliminary research conducted in 2006, Trusted Source participants with bipolar disorder and alcohol use disorder were given naltrexone for a period of 16 weeks. Participants reported improvements in symptoms of sadness and mania, as well as decreases in alcohol cravings and days spent drinking alcohol. Participants also reported fewer days spent consuming alcohol. In addition to this, it did not appear that naltrexone had any significant adverse effects.

In 2021, a significant research project using a self-controlled cohort investigated naltrexone as a potential therapy. Participants give reports on their symptoms both before and after receiving a particular treatment in this kind of research. People who took naltrexone for the treatment of alcoholism or opioid use disorder had a diagnosis of bipolar disorder at a rate that was 65 percent lower than those who didn’t take naltrexone. This was the finding of the authors of the study.

  1. What do you think of LDN?

Because it is a hormetic medicine, naltrexone can have a variety of effects depending on the dosage that you take.

The typical amount of naltrexone taken on a daily basis is 50 milligrams (mg). If you consume alcohol or use other substances while taking this dose, your endorphin and opioid receptors will be blocked, which will prevent your brain from producing an excessive amount of the chemicals that are controlled by those receptors.

A daily intake of 1 to 5 milligrams of naltrexone is considered a modest dose. While this amount of naltrexone does increase endorphin and opioid levels, the increase is not quite as significant as what is caused by alcohol and opioids. Inflammation in the brain is another potential benefit of LDN.

LDN is considered an additional therapy. Because it enhances the effects of other medications, you will need to take it in conjunction with the treatment that you are already receiving.

Because research on LDN is still in its very early phases, scientists still do not fully understand why LDN affects the brain in the manner that it does. However, the few studies that have been done suggest that the effects are rather constant.

  1. Is there evidence that LDN is effective?

There is evidence to show that fluctuations in your body’s levels of the neurotransmitter endorphins can contribute to episodes of both mania and depression. Because of this, LDN may alleviate some of the symptoms of bipolar disorder because it raises endorphin levels.

However, to reiterate, medical professionals have not yet reached a consensus over how LDN directly impacts bipolar disorder. Research on the usage of LDN to treat different illnesses may provide some insight into the possible benefits of using it.

People who take LDN for chronic illness, for example, frequently report an improvement in co-occurring mental health disorders, such as symptoms associated with bipolar disorder, such as:

  • A gloomy disposition or depression
  • Fatigue
  • sleep disturbances
  • having trouble doing out routine activities

There is some support for the advantages of LDN for serious depression from a single, more limited study that was conducted in 2017. In the course of the research, there were a total of 12 participants who reported experiencing a return of depressive symptoms despite the fact that they were taking antidepressants.

The people in the treatment group experienced a greater improvement in their breakthrough symptoms after adding 1 milligram of naltrexone to their regular medication for a period of three weeks than the people in the placebo group did.

However, studies does suggest that LDN may have potential for treating illnesses that don’t often respond to traditional treatments, such as the following:

  • Fibromyalgia
  • A disease known as Crohn’s
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Syndrome de complexe rĂ©gionale de douleur
  • Cancer
  1. What are the potential negative consequences of using naltrexone with LDN?

Naltrexone, like any other medication, has the potential to produce certain unwelcome side effects. On the other hand, low-dose naltrexone (LDN) appears to carry a lower chance of developing unwanted side effects.

Naltrexone side effects

It is generally accepted that naltrexone is safe for patients with bipolar disorder; nonetheless, a case study published in 2013 reveals that it may, in extremely unusual circumstances, cause an episode of manic behavior.

A regular dose of naltrexone, 50 milligrams, can result in adverse effects such as the following:

  • Feelings of unease and agitation
  • Extraordinarily high energy levels
  • having a hard time falling asleep
  • Bewilderment or paranoia
  • Hallucinations

These negative effects, as you may have seen, are very similar to some of the signs and symptoms of mania. Because of this, it could be difficult to tell if the symptoms you’re experiencing are those of the medication’s adverse effects or a mood episode.

Get in touch with your healthcare provider as soon as possible if you experience any of these unwanted effects. They are able to provide individualized advice on the management of these symptoms and the search for a replacement drug that meets your demands more adequately.

LDN side effects

LDN is known to produce adverse effects that are generally moderate and rare. Pain in the head and particularly vivid dreams are two of the most often reported side effects.

In addition, you might not experience these effects until you take a “higher” dose of LDN, which is between 4 and 5 mg. Doses of three milligrams or less, on average, or less, are associated with very few, if any, adverse effects.

  1. How can I have a taste of LDN?

The use of naltrexone, in its maximum dose, is the sole indication for which the FDA has granted approval. LDN has not yet been given the go-ahead as a treatment for bipolar disorder since there is insufficient study on the possible advantages and drawbacks of using it.

As a result, getting a prescription for LDN is regarded an off-label use of the medication. Although the use of LDN is still permissible with a doctor’s prescription, the lack of official approval from the government might make it significantly more difficult to obtain a prescription, as well as coverage from an insurance provider. Medication that is supplied for an unapproved use is frequently not covered by insurance policies.

In order to test LDN, you will need to have a prescription written by your primary care provider and sent to a compounding pharmacy. These locations take standard pills of naltrexone and break them up into the smaller dosages that you require. As of the year 2018, the cost of a daily dose of LDN is often less than one dollar.

  1. Aside from medication, are there any other treatment options for bipolar disorder?

It is possible that low-dose naltrexone and LDN can help minimize the symptoms of bipolar illness, but these medications are not designed to be used on their own as therapies.

In a nutshell, even when you are using naltrexone for the treatment of bipolar illness, it is still very vital to consult with a mental health expert. Your care team may offer a mix of medicine and therapy as a treatment, but the specifics of your treatment may vary on the symptoms you’re experiencing.


The following are examples of common drugs used to treat bipolar disorder:

  • Mood stabilizers are drugs that assist prevent sudden changes in an individual’s mood.
  • Antipsychotics: These drugs have been shown to alleviate some of the symptoms of mania.
  • Antidepressants: Some antidepressants have been shown to be helpful in relieving symptoms of depression.
  • Benzodiazepines: Some people find that these tranquilizers are helpful in treating manic symptoms like agitation, decreased need for sleep, and racing thoughts.

More information regarding the treatments available for bipolar disorder can be obtained from a physician or psychiatrist.


The following kinds of treatments are frequently employed in the treatment of symptoms associated with bipolar disorder:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy is a type of talk therapy that can teach you skills for addressing unwanted ideas, feelings, and behaviors. This type of therapy can help you gain these abilities.
  • Dialectical behavior therapy is a treatment modality that can assist you in developing abilities in mindfulness as well as emotional regulation.
  • Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy: This technique, which was developed expressly to address the symptoms of bipolar illness, might help you form stable routines, which, in turn, may minimize the number of mood episodes that you experience.
  • Therapy that focuses on the family: If you’re having trouble resolving conflicts and tensions with people you care about, family therapy may be able to help.
  • Psychoeducation: Acquiring a deeper understanding of bipolar disorder, including the symptoms and triggers that are unique to you, might assist you in being better able to anticipate and manage mood episodes.

Support groups, which offer you the opportunity to interact with others who have gone through a similar experience, are another potential source of assistance that you could look into.

Final Verdict

Even while research on LDN as a treatment for bipolar disorder is still in its infancy, there is mounting evidence to suggest that it may be useful in alleviating some of the symptoms of the condition, including feelings of depression, fatigue, and difficulty sleeping.

If you are interested in trying naltrexone in any dose, the first step you should take is to discuss the idea of include it in your treatment plan with the clinician who is responsible for writing your prescriptions.