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  • Anxiety

    Hi All,
    I've posted a few times about my transitioning to a Primal diet over the past month. I'm currently experiencing some increased anxiety and wanted to get your thoughts on what could be causing it.

    I have Depression and Anxiety (diagnosed), but ever since I was about 28, it's been primarily Anxiety and much less about the depression. Specifically, I have OCD, but the Obsessive, not Compulsive form... This frequently manifests in hypochondria (ie, I have ALL the cancer). I'm wondering if anyone experienced mood fluctuation/agitation with the transition and whether it's a relatively normal response to the change or whether it likely indicates I'm doing something wrong.

    I'm 31, and currently I'm eating what I would say is Primal, 0 grains, 0 refined sugars (just fruit, some starchy veggies), some dairy, but not too much (like 2-3 servings of high-fat per day), lots of eggs, and a variety of vegetables and fruit. I'm also taking 50mg Zn, 450mg Mg Citrate, 1000IU D3, and I just started taking some probiotics and fish oil to help my stomach stay calm and reduce inflammation respectively (I also have fibro).

    I feel anxious about eating all this food that I've previously been so certain is bad for me... I'm worried that it's somehow clogging my arteries up and it's going to give me a heart attack (irrational fears anyone?)

    Anyway, just wanted to hear from others who perhaps suffer from mood disorders about how the transition went for you...?
    Thanks!

  • #2
    I also have a slight anxiety issue, not that bad but, my head tells me "I might not be breathing that well - or - is my heart beating weird?!" ahah. We are crazy. Anyway, I have started taking Primal Calm just yesterday, haven't noticed its effects as of yet, but well see, as far as the diet goes, I think the diet and exercise combine do help, mostly long walks have helped me stay calm, I guess I just have way too much energy, but the nutrients the diet delivers and the over-all health benefits all come together, less stress, better sleep, the body feels good using all those muscles, so in that way I think it has alleviated some anxiety.

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    • #3
      Hi Wolfman,
      Interesting that you mentioned breathing... that's one of the things I'm experiencing... tightness in my chest/difficulty breathing. This is often related to anxiety, and I'm hypersensitive to variations because of my ocd making me hyperaware of every physical sensation in my body.

      What is Primal Calm? I've seen others reference Natural Calm (Magnesium supplement I think)...

      I haven't yet been exercising much because of the fibro - my back is making it difficult to sit or stand, let alone lift anything. When I come to a pain-free window, I'll start up as best I can. (I do still walk my dog every day, but I haven't done anything remotely vigorous in a while).

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      • #4
        I was diagnosed with depression and Generalized Anxiety Disorder 9-10 years ago. After going primal, I got off anti-depressants (which more served to curb my anxiety than the depression), but I don't function very well w/o some kind of assistance, even when I'm eating properly. For me, optimal gut health keeps my head on straight. I am dealing with some digestive issues now and always feel best mentally when my bathroom trips are good .

        Primal Calm - Primal Blueprint
        Primal Calm is one of Mark Sisson's supplements. It has some amino acids, herbs, and vitamins that can help with anxiety. I've never tried it myself.

        I understand the anxiety about changing foods. I definitely felt that when I was trying to teach myself that saturated fats AREN'T bad for you. I think a lot of us felt that way during the early days. I think it's fair to say that's pretty normal .

        I don't want to add anything to make you feel more stressed or anxious, but I'd encourage you to check out the book "The Mood Cure" by Julia Ross. She recommends a vitamin and amino acid (supplement) protocol that has really helped me with my anxiety & depression. I can't remember right now, but I think she discusses OCD too (or maybe that was in "Depression Free Naturally"). The book "Primal Body, Primal Mind" by Nora Gedgaudas apparently also discusses mood disorders and I've heard it's very good, but I've never read it.

        From other people with fibro around the forums, I've read that staying 100% gluten-free is key for alleviating fibro pains.
        Depression Lies

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        • #5
          Here is some possible useful info on "adaptogens" including the Rhodiola Rosea found in the Primal Calm.

          Here is a peer reviewed random controlled trial involving the use of ashwagandha. Basically the study compared two groups NC (Naturopathic Care) versus PT (Psychotherapy). Both arms included lifestyle, nutritional and exercise interventions/recommendations. The NC arm utilized the ashwagandha and a multi-vitamin. The PT arm utilized a fiber filled placebo pill. Results: both arms showed improvement as anxiety scores were reduced (NC - 56.5% reduction, 30.5% reduction in PT arm).

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          • #6
            I have to watch myself for overfocused anxiety. I can't do a low carb diet and take my ADHD meds without also supplementing with 5-HTP. From what I understand the lowered carb intake can impair the brain's ability to make serotonin. The reason involves how tryptophan, a precursor amino acid, gets into the brain. Apparently it can be out-competed by all the other aminos. To help the tryptophan get into your brain where it can become serotonin you need to create an insulin spike when you eat protein. So carbs with your protein. This helps all those other aminos get taken to the muscles, leaving more room for tryptophan to enter the brain. Or so I read in a book by a neurologist. Maybe I understood it wrong, but I can keep overfocus/anxiety at bay by eating more than 80 mg of carbs per day and taking 5-HTP.

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            • #7
              I don't personally suffer, but my wife does.

              Cacao is known to raise serotonin levels. Try it ground in a smoothee, or mixed in with full fat Greek yoghurt if you're doing dairy. Eat a couple of ounces of 85-95% chocolate in an evening now and again.

              Personally, my mood has never been better, but I'm not ultra low-carb, I'm super nutrient dense - it makes a big difference to me. Not everybody is the same, so try to feel your way through it too. But also be careful about over analysis (easier said that done) to keep your anxiety in check and you relate it to the new diet. Good luck.

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              • #8
                Maybe you need a little more carbs?

                My anxiety skyrocketed after going primal and LC, I had to up my carbs a little to get it to managable levels again.
                Black magic specialist in bangladesh

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                • #9
                  HI All,
                  I somehow missed all these responses, I didn't see that the thread had been continued. Anyway...

                  Thanks for all the thoughts... I was thinking of including some 5-HTP, but I wondered if it has an interaction with any medications (I take amytryptalene and Welbutrin as well as ibuprophen as needed)...? Anyone know what the risks of taking 5-HTP are?

                  <Here's an interesting side note for people unfamiliar with OCD... if I dig too much into side-effects and symptoms, it often makes life harder as the more I read, the more I CLEARLY have cancer (or whatever the hell I'm reading about). So despite my biology/nutrition degree and general interest in biology/science, I often refrain from doing too much digging about this stuff b/c it's seems to agitate my hypochondria /end>

                  The adaptogens thing is interesting - I have heard the word in passing, but have no knowledge of the subject at all.

                  I will ALWAYS take seriously a recommendation to eat more chocolate. I was just trying to stay away from sugar, which most chocolate (other than pure cacao) seems to have in it...

                  As for my carb intake, I haven't counted grams, but I think I'm still pretty far from VLC... I would say I eat between 1 and 3 fruits per day and I generally have starchy veggies 4-5x/wk (yams, turnip, squash, and the occasional small potato), along with all the other veggies I eat.

                  Lastly - to Secret Agent Girl - Thank you for your thoughts and I agree that this is critically important, and while I don't practice it so formally anymore, I have quite a bit of training in exposure therapy for these issues from my previous acute experiences. I try to keep this in mind regularly and identify when my thoughts are irrational and try to work through them, but I also don't go overboard trying to expose myself to negativity (ie, I don't go digging around on the internet trying to solve my health problems because a headache is always cancer on the internet). Anyway, this is definitely a reminder that I need to keep in mind that much of my thought-process is coloured by my (distorted) psychology and to not run away from it - BUT, I did notice a spike of anxiety, so I thought that might indicate it was related to something in the rather abrupt change to Primal.

                  Thanks again for everyone's thoughts on this... seems it's a mixed bag, some people do better mentally on Primal/Paleo, some see essentially no change, and a few seem to get a bit worse. I guess I will have to see how it goes.

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                  • #10
                    If you are taking Wellbutrin and amitriptyline, you should definitely ask your doctor about 5-HTP first. Both of these antidepressants work on serotonin. Adding even more serotonin puts you at risk for serotonin syndrome (aka serotonin toxicity, basically excessive nerve cell activity according to WebMD). If you are going to get it, it will be within hours of starting a new medication or upping the dose. Its the sort of thing you must go to the ER for, and dangerous. This is why you're supposed to let MAOIs wash out of your system before starting an SSRI.

                    I don't think serotonin syndrome can be acquired by dietary manipulations alone, though, so adding more carbs with your meat ought to be okay.

                    But maybe there is something different that could be used instead. Beta blockers, for example, or CBT.

                    About the chocolate: maybe that's why I feel the need to eat it daily! Yet another reasonable excuse. Thanks!

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                    • #11
                      I've actually experienced what my pharmacist thought was seratonin syndrome when I started taking Cymbalta while taking Remeron (psychiatrist prescribed). I was full-on high. My understanding is that Welbutrin is more of a Dopamine/NE modulator... With some seratonin interaction but nothing like an SSRI (which is likely why it helped me and SSRIs and combos of SSRIs didn't - I don't have a deficit of seratonin... And that's likely why I felt like I was high from the double seratonin hit with the combo).
                      Anyway, I'll prob avoid 5-HTP for now and see how this plays out over the next few weeks.

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                      • #12
                        If you don't already, keep a diary noting how you are feeling, even track your period, even noting any non-primal type foods you may have eaten, etc on a daily basis. I have been doing this for over a year and it is extremely helpful in seeing patterns, and in presenting the data to your dr. I do think the seasons also play a role in how a person feels and hormone balances...in winter people can tend to be more down, in summer people may be more excited....it's worth trying.

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                        • #13
                          Just a thought but since I started basically eating a low (well...much lower) histamine diet my anxiety is much better! If you google "high histamine and anxiety" or "high histamine food and anxiety" there is some info out there. I know once going primal I started eating more tomatoes, avocados, spinach, almonds, kimchi and other fermented veggies etc. There are both high histamine foods (vinegar, fermented foods) and foods that release histamine when eaten...chocolate, avocados, many fruits etc. I was so relieved when I realized that by lowering my histamine levels, my anxiety improved.

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