Reducing Depression Symptoms in Bipolar Disorder with Nutraceuticals and Lifestyle Treatments

The combination of lifestyle-related treatments and nutraceuticals may reduce symptoms of depression in individuals with Bipolar Disorder, according to a new study funded by Australian Rotary Health.

Dr Melanie Ashton from the IMPACT Research Centre at Deakin University was awarded an Australian Rotary Health Ian Parker Bipolar Research Fund PhD Scholarship in 2016 to explore the potential for easily accessible and safe lifestyle-related treatments and nutraceuticals to address the shortfall in recovery from bipolar depression.

As part of a clinical trial called the MITO-NAC study, participants were divided into groups where some took the nutraceutical N-acetylcysteine (NAC) on its own, some took NAC along with other nutraceuticals such as vitamins, and others took a placebo pill.

The study revealed that there was a greater reduction in depression symptoms in participants who reported higher levels of physical activity and received the combination of additional nutraceutical treatments.

Eating habits and BMI also had an impact on reduced depression symptoms and improvement in overall functioning.

“We found that people who had better diet quality, a diet with anti-inflammatory properties, or a lower BMI, showed better response to add-on nutraceutical treatment within the MITO-NAC study,” Dr Ashton said.

“These results suggest varying responses between people based on their diet and weight, which we need to consider further with more targeted research.”

Before the trial, part of Dr Ashton’s thesis included a systematic review of research trials exploring the effects of add-on nutraceuticals for treatment Bipolar Disorder.

“We found several promising nutraceuticals for future studies, including NAC, omega 3 fatty acids, co-enzyme Q10 and a more recently identified candidate; mangosteen pericarp. I have completed a review and proposed a clinical trial exploring the use of mangosteen pericarp extract for the treatment of bipolar depression,” Dr Ashton said.

From what they’ve found so far, Dr Ashton believes there may be additional benefits of combining processes which enhance energy production such as higher levels of physical activity and nutraceuticals.

“Nutraceuticals may be a cheap, accessible add-on to treatment for bipolar disorder”.

The effectiveness of mangosteen pericarp on bipolar depression is currently being explored in a clinical trial by Dr Ashton’s team at Deakin University. The results of the trial are set to be released later this year.

To participate in the Mangosteen for Bipolar study, find out more here.

Dr Ashton has published several journal articles relating to her thesis and graduated with her PhD in December 2019.

We congratulate Dr Ashton on her hard work and wish her all the best with her future going forward.


Read Melanie’s published journal articles included in her thesis here:

  1. Diet quality, dietary inflammatory index and body mass index as predictors of response to adjunctive N-acetylcysteine and mitochondrial agents in adults with bipolar disorder: A sub-study of a randomised placebo-controlled trial
  2. Physical Activity as a Predictor of Clinical Trial Outcomes in Bipolar Depression: A Subanalysis of a Mitochondrial-Enhancing Nutraceutical Randomized Controlled Trial
  3. Nutraceuticals and nutritional supplements for the treatment of bipolar disorder: protocol for a systematic review
  4. The Therapeutic Potential of Mangosteen Pericarp as an Adjunctive Therapy for Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia
  5. Efficacy of adjunctive Garcinia mangostana Linn (mangosteen) pericarp for bipolar depression: study protocol for a proof-of-concept trial
  6. Personality disorder and functioning in major depressive disorder: a nested study within a randomized controlled trial
  7. Role of personality disorder in randomised controlled trials of pharmacological interventions for adults with mood disorders: a protocol for a systematic review and metaanalysis
  8. Protocol and Rationale: A 24-week Double-blind, Randomized, Placebo Controlled Trial of the Efficacy of Adjunctive Garcinia mangostana Linn. (Mangosteen) Pericarp for Schizophrenia
  9. Mitochondrial Agents for Bipolar Disorder
  10. Mitochondrial modifying nutrients in treating chronic fatigue syndrome: A 16-week open-label pilot study


Media contact: Jessica Cooper – (02) 8837 1900 or

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