Nutrition for patients with psychiatric diagnosis

For all of you and your beloved ones who fight on a daily basis with these kinds of issues, I had an idea to share some easy tips regarding nutrition. After a year-long rotation at the department for psychosis during my specialisation in Psychiatry, I felt a need to give some valuable hints about this dismissed and least discussed theme – Nutrition for psychiatric patients.

There is a series of side effects caused by certain medications called “neuroleptics” or “antipsychotics”, “antidepressants” and “sedatives”, but in this topic, I will mention the most frequent side effects and tips on how to diminish these side effects.

Side effects include:

  • weight gain
  • bloating
  • constipation
  • mouth dryness
  • sugar cravings
  • lack of energy
  • drowsiness
  • sexual disfunction

A very frequent situation is that a certain percentage of these patients related to the digestive system, hunger attacks, sugar cravings and loss of appetite. The mentioned drugs quite often cause constipation (irregular bowel movements). There are several hints on how to make life easier. It is also important if the patients take tablets or receive a depo injection. After receiving a depo injection, in the first 2-3 days patients are tired, omit regular meals, but also have sugar cravings. It is fine to give the patient something sweet during this short period in order to maintain him/her more awake so the patient could participate in simple recreational/house activities. After this short period of 2-3 days, sugar intake should be carefully monitored but not completely prohibited. By these patients, we can also expect problems like constipation, so we should be more careful with food preparation. It would be recommendable to reduce the intake of food that causes bloating (peas, beans, chickpeas, cabbage, cauliflower). Vegetable soups are highly recommendable as they provide vitamins, and minerals and they are very good digestible in order to avoid the intake of laxatives.

Precautions should be taken by patients with diabetes as these rules have exceptions!

A few hints about laxatives:

  • Glycerine-based are the most common in usage and neutral.
  • In combination with a regulated diet, the average intake is 1-2 x per week.
  • Often intake can lead to “lazy intestines”! Be careful, as only after 7-10 days of daily intake do the intestines lose their natural motility (ability of movement), so it is recommendable to avoid laxatives as much as possible and to give more input to a healthy adapted diet.
  • Never forget about the importance of regular exercise as body movement is very important for the functional digestion process!

A few hints for maintaining optimal bodyweight:

  • Keep adhered to a “diabetic diet” – up to 1600 kcal/day
  • One can do many variations in this diabetic diet but under the supervision of your nutritionist.
  • Attempt to set your dinner, not after 18 h.
  • A weight check should be done once a week.
  • A 45-minute walk per day as stretching/swimming/cardio should be done at least 2 times a week.

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