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Paleo and Depression

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  • Paleo and Depression

    Hello all...I am new to Paleo and to this site.
    I have been on Paleo now for 3 weeks and feel great! Well, almost. I have lost 7 pounds of those "hard to lose" pounds. A little about myself - I have been very active working out for the last 15 months and have lost 40 pounds. I am now working on bulking up and building muscle (coming along nicely!!). I work out 4-5 times per week, sometimes more. About 4 months ago I went off Lexapro that I had been taking for the last 5 years. I have been doing very well without it - at least until week 2 of the diet. It seems that a lot of the anxiety and depression have returned as well as some of the prior stomach issues that I had in the past. I have been reading about serotonin levels and how diet affects these levels.

    My question is...what suggestions do you have to help me get over these panic/attacks, depression without going back on medication (FYI...I have spoken with my DR and he is monitoring in the event he feels I need to go back on the meds). I have read some that I need to add more carbs. One article said to add lentils - high in protein and carbs.

    I am somewhat confused because serotonin is contradictory - good balance of serotonin results from lower protein and higher carbs - kind of the opposite of what I am trying to do with building muscle.

    My diet is good. I am following Paleo for Athletes plan and allowing some carbs pre/post workouts.

    Your suggestions would be helpful. Sorry about rambling. I really want this to work and work naturally without going back on meds.



  • #2
    Hi Robert,

    I am no expert on what foods to eat to avoid depression, but I do know a thing or 2000 about depression, and after being on antidepressants for so long, being off of them for four months may not be really long enough to be really stable. Give it more time.

    My depression is seasonal (Winter) so when I went off antidepressants I had to wait until the next Winter to see if I was okay (no). So, like you I made the commitment to become healthy. That's going pretty well, so I took more steps.

    Right now I am reading books on ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) and it is really beginning to help me. Of course, exercise and eating cleanly will support any effort you make to better yourself, so you are on the right track there.

    I personally wouldn't worry too much about the chemical imbalances that might be contributing to your depression, better to get as physically healthy as you are able, and then work on whatever emotional issues the depression is protecting you from.

    My opinion only. Best of luck to you. :-)

    Height: 5' 10"
    Highest Weight: 292
    Recent Starting Weight 287
    Current weight: 244.0
    Goal weight: 195
    Body Fat 32.5%


    • #3
      Please read Julia Ross' "The Mood Cure" for information on how diet affects serotonin. There are some excellent recommendations in that book for managing anxiety and depression with amino acid supplements. I've had great success with them.

      In the meantime, add some paleo carbs back in, like sweet potatoes, squash, and fruits, to see if that helps. You absolutely need protein to maintain adequate serotonin levels, as they're built from the amino acids in protein. Lentils are legumes, which are not paleo, so focus on meat!
      Depression Lies


      • #4
        After my concussions, I had a problem with depression. It wasn't that "I just want to lay around the house" kind, it was the "I hate everything, you all annoy me, and life sucks" kind.

        After I got an MRI to make sure there wasn't something critical going on, I started taking a spoonful of coconut oil every day, as organic and unprocessed as I could find. I also took one capsule of 5HTP in the morning, but I couldn't take any later in the day because it gave me dreams so vivid that they woke me up.

        Both helped tremendously, though your mileage may vary. I would start with the coconut oil, which is all around incredibly good for brain health in general. Give it a little time and see if you need to more, but do some research before you do.