This article is about supplements along with any medication after consulting a doctor

Helpful for my mental illness or am I just making expensive pee?

    Lori Bernstein

    Lori Bernstein has been married over 20 years and is the mother of two teenagers. She has the diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type, along with recovering from alcoholism. She works as a Peer Mentor and volunteers for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA)

Editor:  Nadeem Noor

A few disclaimers:

Supplements can interfere with your health and other medications. You should run it by your doctor before you start taking them.

Buyer beware. I trust the companies I purchase from, but I have heard of people getting products that were different from what they ordered.

And, as far as results, YMMV, they may have different reactions between individuals

+One supplement I take is Sarcosine (N-methylglycine).1 It is touted for helping the negative and cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia.*  For this reason some people take it as a nootropic thinking it will give them an intellectual edge, but it hasn’t been shown to increase cognition unless it has been impaired.

Negative symptoms seem neglected in treatment but greatly affect quality of life. Psychiatrists will ask about hallucinations and delusions but not so much about motivation in my experience.

I have been taking sarcosine for a year. I feel like I am more motivated with a better mood. These are subjective and hard to quantify.

*Schizophrenia has what are called positive symptoms –hallucinations and delusions, negative symptoms-apathy, lack of emotion, poor social functioning and cognitive symptoms-disorganized thoughts, difficulty concentrating, difficulty completing tasks, memory problems

+NAC (N-Acetyl cysteine)- I just started taking this on the suggestion of a friend. It is an anti-oxidant, but I am not quite sure what it is supposed to do. All I can say is the capsules I bought smell so bad, I  am not going to keep taking this unless something amazing happens

Omega-3 Fish Oil capsules

+Fish Oil (Omega 3)- There are so many good things about fish oil. It isn’t just good for your brain. It helps your cardiovascular system, too. Studies has shown it helps with depression2 and bipolar disorder3. I can’t tell if it is working. But it can’t hurt.

+Melatonin– My sleep is erratic. I can sleep few hours one night and 10 hours the next day (if I have the option). I have tried melatonin as a natural sleep aid. It doesn’t work well for me. I still wake up. But, it helps some people
1 Lane HY, Lin CH, Huang YJ, Liao CH, Chang YC, and Tsai GE. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled comparison study of sarcosine (N-methylglycine) and D-serine add-on treatment for schizophrenia. Int J Neuropsychopharmacol. 2010;13: 451-460.

2. Raeder MB, Steen VM, Vollset SE, Bjelland I. Associations between cod liver oil use and symptoms of depression: The Hordaland Health Study. J Affect Disord. 2006 Dec 18

3 Stoll AL, Severus WE, Freeman MP et al. (1999), Omega 3 fatty acids in bipolar disorder. A preliminary double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Arch Gen Psychiatry 56(5):407-412.

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