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Has Primal Helped for Depression/Anxiety? Please share.

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  • #31
    I got diagnosed in 08 with massive depression and anxiety, was suicidal. I got drugs and treatment and stuff, took time off my job to really relax. When i went back to school i started therapy again and i felt good enough by the end of the summer to go off drugs, or at least they werent' helping much anymore. I was accepting some low level of depression. However, i've been 2 months primal through the worst of the dark winter months and feeling a lot better. We had a vacay in january and most of the stress eased up but still. The extra vit D and lack of sugar swings seems to be helping a lot. That post lunch fatigue was a killer and it's totally gone now And primal is so much more than diet, it's the whole lifestyle, a real holistic view of health. Making sure i get exercise, sleep, and relaxation is really helpful, my therapist is so proud of me
    28 yrs, 5'8.5"
    started primal 1/23/11 @ 143 lbs, couldn't do a knee pushup
    3/13/11 138 lbs, 30 knee pushups, yeah!

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    • #32
      Thank you Hil,
      Yes it really does have to be the whole life approach, not just dietary. Thanks for pointing that out.

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      • #33
        Originally posted by naiadknight View Post
        If I can help one person learn a lesson an easier way than the way I had to learn it, then I'm doing something right.
        And thank YOU, for trying to help your friend out. It takes a strong person to be on the other side of the depression wall and still be willing to help.
        From the POV of being on the other side of that wall, the whole subject can be completely overwhelming. You want to help but are also concerned about possibly pushing too hard or in the wrong direction. It would be easy to walk away and say hey, it's just not my problem. But if there is really something as straightforward as diet that could help, it is worth a try. And this friend is worth not giving up on. He's a really good person with a fine mind just trapped in a really dark place.

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        • #34
          Depression hits a lot of good people and it really does warp the mind. I was never formally diagnosed with depression/anxiety, but I have always had periods of my life where its been there. For the past year to 2 years, I lived with a very bad patch of depression. Suicidal thoughts, could barely function most days and just literal crying fests. I live in a small town so I was afraid to seek the help I needed also afraid of one of my siblings finding out and attempting to take the kids away from me. I figured if I could fake happiness, then I was happy. I know, strange but that's what depression does. I found primal last October and within about a month, the light came on that I was making the depression worse with gluten. When I went full bore in January, my hubs told me that I am a much "calmer" version of myself than I used to be. No emotional outbursts, incessant crying or anything. He has actually told me that the new me is a welcome change. Yes, I definitely agree that gluten does make depression worse and dropping it has helped. Also for me, only getting sugar from natural sources now is a huge blessing. Since I stopped the diet pop 2 weeks ago, I feel increasingly better. If I want a diet pop, I reach for seltzer water. Its the carbonation I miss, not the sweet.

          Paleobird, I hope this helps your friend make a positive decision in his life.
          Georgette

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          • #35
            Daniel Amen's books have lots of great info using supplements instead of drugs: Blog – Amen Clinics

            My son had depression/anxiety and dramatically improved within a month by eating primal, light exercise, and twice daily doses of St.Johns Wort and Vit. D along with a multivitamin. It was really amazing to see how quickly he went from moody, short-tempered, gloomy to his normally good-natured self.
            Last edited by Digby; 03-22-2011, 01:04 PM.
            This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it. Ralph Waldo Emerson

            Any given day you are surrounded by 10,000 idiots.
            Lao Tsu, founder of Taoism

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            • #36
              OK, Paleo here is my experience ...

              I arrived at Primal via reading GCBC (Taubes) and I took on board everything in the PB which meant leaving vegetaranism behind, leaving chronic cardio behind and dropping long distance endurance racing (I was racing at age-group world level at the time and had an uber-competitive coach which is where the disordered eating I developed stemmed from). At the time I was a skinny fat over-trained manic depressive control-freak, and that's being kind to myself!

              Immediately I benefited from the loss of constant hunger and the massive highs and lows that eating a high carb diet involves. This improved my sleep and over time I began to feel more relaxed and happier - it alleviated the depressive side. It was after about 3-4 months I'd say that I noticed I hadn't had a manic episode (and the subsequent deep depression) and after 9 months I finally believed that I had rid myself of the bipolar disorder I'd struggled with for at least 20 years (and is a genetic predisposition I've inherited from my paternal grandmother, who was, a type II diabetic with big weight fluctuations that died from complications of uncontrolled diabetes from heart disease age 58). I mention this background because it highlights the link between metabolic problems and mental health, there is a clear dietary link - more of that over at the Blog quoted below.

              There are lots and lots of articles over at Evolutionary Psychiatry that I would urge everyone with an interest in this area to read. Just a few at a quick glance through her blog history ...

              Evolutionary Psychiatry: Depression and a Leaky Gut
              Evolutionary Psychiatry: More on Wheat and Serious Mental Illness
              Evolutionary Psychiatry: Dietary Fat Intake and Depression Risk

              Also this document confirmed for me why I was now well, and unlikely to ever face the problem again ... 'The One True Path' Jennifer Walsh The One True Path? - The Scientist - Magazine of the Life Sciences this gives you the reason why an overloaded insulin system knocks out all manner of important neurological brain chemistry.

              Depressive/manic disorders are very dependent on levels of serotonin and dopamine, both hormones, and both highly affected by insulin levels and by cortisol levels that are raised through inflammation of grain and sugar consumption.

              A large proportion of the population are low in magnesium and this wonder element has functions in at least 300 biochemical actions in the body. It is also crucial to brain chemistry at the neuron synapses where all the action takes place. It's really complicated and totally fascinating and you can read about it over at the blog mentioned above.

              Once you being to understand how delicate the balances are, and how much what we eat can affect those reactions, it becomes very clear why eating the way we do here helps mental health.

              Over the last few months I've experiemented with a little supplementation and have found 4,000 IUs of vitamin D3, 350 mg of chelated magnesium and 100 mg of 5-HTP have just iced the metaphorical cake! My spirits had dropped a little as we'd ploughed on through the winter and the D3 has really helped that, within days I could feel a lightening of spirit. The magnesium I would recommend everyone to take as the benefits of having adequate levels are just huge and provided you have adequate kidney function there is little danger of overdose or toxicity from all I read. 5-HTP is a good one for the mood side of the house because it's the pre-cursor to serotonin and that helps with melatonin production too (so aids sleep which is often disturbed in depressive disorders) and with appetite control (cravings) - you need an adequate pool of hormones to switch off 'the eat now message'. A caution with the 5-HTP though - it can interefere if anti-depressant drugs being taken are aimed at serotonin balance.

              One warning though that's been mentioned further up - when manic I believed I was invincible and not in need of any 'help' when depressed I believed nothing could help. Dealing with people with mental dysfunction is tricky and as with everything the individual has to want to get well.

              DIET is the biggie first, get off the grains and lower the sugar and VIT D3 is a must I would say - it can do no harm at all and it might lift his spirits sufficiently to see the worth of trying. I've not come across the link with very low carb being a problem, I am less than 50 g of carb a day and I know there is a lot of successful use of ketongenic diets within psychiatry for various conditions. Again more over at Dr Emily Deans blogspot.

              And, my favourite saying is very apposite here too although using the word insanity is perhaps not very helplful LOL! So point out to him that what he has been doing hasn't helped so doing it again and again and expecting a different result is probably fairly futile. I would say he has nothing to lose by trying it out.

              And as an n=1 anecdote to conclude - I was away last week in the Canary Islands and ended up eating quite a few more carbs than is normal for me - by Friday I had poor sleep and felt anxious, the first time in at least 6 months I'd say. Since I've been home I've got back to my 50 g or less and I feel normal again.

              Hope this helps - if I can help one person out of the misery it makes it all worth while!
              Seeking the natural way in a modern world ...

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              • #37
                Okay I have depression/anxiety too! What works for me:
                1. Deplin tabs (high dose folic acid; due to degraded receptors for my B vitamin intake in my brain or something similar according to my doc, by prescription only)
                2. About 2000 or higher IU of vitamin D3
                3. SAM-E supplement (3 tabs in morning, empty stomach)
                4. 5-HTP supplement
                5. Getting off sugar and grains!!!!
                6. I also take Lexapro (anti-depressant/anxiety), but have decreased my dose a LOT since going primal
                7. ALSO lots of fish oil!

                My blood sugar levels are what triggers my anxiety (when there is no actual reason to be nervous), as I had read but hadn't tried until going primal. If I have a reason to be nervous due to some stressor, then primal helps me through those times too, and I don't get as upset as I did before, and rarely have an attack now even if I am very anxious. I also agree with an earlier poster that I cannot go below 50 g carbs....I get lethargic and then rebound into being in a very bad mood. I stick to the 80-100 range and this works wonders for my moods.

                As a word of caution, however, I remember when I went paleo and I was SO NERVOUS and ANXIOUS, due to the massive changes I had to make and a steep learning curve. It can be overwhelming for a person who is already clinging to a thread! So overwhelming! I think a slow road to change would help the most. Like dropping gluten first. Then taking it elsewhere. But before anything I would suggest some high dose supplements like I listed above. There are many clinical studies proving the effectiveness of SAM-E and 5-HTP. That would be step one in my opinion. Step two: no gluten, not ever, in conjunction with more leafy vegetables (give him some easy recipies) and limited fruits.

                You must understand however, that unless this person has the courage to change, this may not happen for him. It can be hard to change when you don't believe in yourself anymore. There is a really great book about writing exercises a person can do when feeling like they can't accomplish anything and are depressed/anxious. I will look at the title again tonight and reply with it in the morning. I use the techniques in this book EVERYTIME I am in a "funk," and it works.

                Good luck. He is lucky to have someone who cares about him enough to try and get him some help! Which is no small feat when you don't even like yourself!
                Last edited by EvansMom; 03-22-2011, 03:12 PM.

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                • #39
                  I also strongly agree with Kelda that magnesium is critical too (400 or so)!

                  And Kelda, I too also just took a vacation where I was forced to eat more carbs than normal due to a crazy schedule and limited dietary choices, and yes, my anxiety came back big time, as well as a feeling of strangeness in my brain. Am so happy to be back on full primal and home again.

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                  • #40
                    I have a master's degree in psych and a counseling license and several people I have encountered who just didn't get better and stayed depressed for long periods of time were total carb addicts. If he would get off of the refined carbs first and maybe consider switching to better carbs but not go to low so as not to bottom out with seratonin he would likely feel much better. Also 30 mins of walking three times a week has been shown in studies to be as/possibly more helpful than anti-depressants. Bonus points for walking in the sun Magnesium is also good for both of those afflictions, but i believe the depression epidemic in this country is closely linked to carb addiction.
                    True healthcare reform starts in your kitchen, not in Washington. ~Anonymous
                    The worst carrot is better than the best candybar.--TornadoGirl

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                    • #41
                      I didn't start PB with the intention of helping my anxiety, but it did. I would say I've experienced an 80% reduction. Something about it makes sense now...if you have all this weird energy in your body, where does it go? Makes sense in terms of ADHD too.
                      The Paleo Periodical
                      It's not a Diet. It's a lifestyle.

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                      • #42
                        Originally posted by EvansMom View Post
                        And Kelda, I too also just took a vacation where I was forced to eat more carbs than normal due to a crazy schedule and limited dietary choices, and yes, my anxiety came back big time, as well as a feeling of strangeness in my brain. Am so happy to be back on full primal and home again.
                        Aha, that is interesting. Yes, a feeling of strangeness in my brain too - that's a very good way of explaining it - it made me feel quite hopeless (in the literal sense) for a while during that day - we went to a restaurant that night where I was able to be Primal and by the following day I began to feel fine again (albeit tired from all the travelling). And, thinking about it during Monday I felt amazingly light-hearted, as if my body was jumping for joy to be back as usual - in fact I now remember that wonderful feeling back at the beginning after my 36 hours of the most incredible detox symptoms when I cold-turkeyed from grains and added sugars (sweats, shakes, the whole deal).

                        It is so good sharing!
                        Last edited by Kelda; 03-23-2011, 01:25 AM.
                        Seeking the natural way in a modern world ...

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                        • #43
                          Originally posted by Buttercup View Post
                          I didn't start PB with the intention of helping my anxiety, but it did. I would say I've experienced an 80% reduction. Something about it makes sense now...if you have all this weird energy in your body, where does it go? Makes sense in terms of ADHD too.
                          If you have the time Buttercup have a look at Dr Dean's blog Evolutionary Psychiatry she has a number of blog posts with reference to ADHD, it's another one of the disorders now being seen as a potential metabolic dysfunction (along with bipolar and Altzheimer's to mention but two) and one that is very successfully treated with grain withdrawal and very low carb diets - it would appear that when you look closely at just about every Western malady that has appeared in the last couple of hundred years (that never previously existed in human populations) can be linked back to diet. What you get just depends on your body's genetic predispositions at the gene level - for me high sugars screwed my insulin response and blocked hormones that lead to bipolar, for others it shows as massive weight gain, for others masses of inflammatory issues. I really do believe that all humans are adversely affected to some degree by these novel foods we just haven't identified them all yet.
                          Seeking the natural way in a modern world ...

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                          • #44
                            thinking about it - I always thought I got very depressed after sugar binges "because i binged" - i.e. because I had 'failed" etc etc etc . Of course, it is also possible that the depression was literally CAUSED by the sugar. Never thought of it like that. Certainly after 4 months of no sugar my recent episodes have been even more traumatic and I long for the stability of my "ordinary Primal" brain. Perhaps knowing the literal "cause and effect" helps - for your friend too. If you KNOW that what you are consuming is poison you are less likely to do it?? (For example, much as I might feel like going on an "alcohol bender" I never do. I always stop after 2 glasses max. BECAUSE I get an appalling day long life obliterating hangover if I drink more. Not worth it.) Of course, that is "moderation", not completely banning alcohol so is different? I need to totally ban refined sugar - though if I keep eating some small amount of fruits I guess I am doing moderation??

                            I am rambling. Just wanted to offer some support. Depression is an appalling illness. I would literally "not wish it on my worst enemy".

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                            • #45
                              Originally posted by denise View Post
                              thinking about it - I always thought I got very depressed after sugar binges "because i binged" - i.e. because I had 'failed" etc etc etc . Of course, it is also possible that the depression was literally CAUSED by the sugar. Never thought of it like that. ??
                              It's a whole mindset change required. It was only after I realised that I hadn't had an episode for may be 9 months that I truly believed I was 'cured' then I began trying to work out why and how (probably to convince myself it wasn't coming back), I did lots of research and found some answers. When I realised that my life long struggle had just been my body trying its best to deal with a chemical imbalance caused by what I ate I can't tell you how liberating it was. All the guilt I had carried for all those years just fell away including the distain I'd always perceived from my mother because I simply couldn't 'get a grip' as she saw it (and still does - she now just thinks she was right all along and there was never anything really wrong with me!). Once I realised I was as likely to be able to control the mental disorder as she was to 'mind over matter her blood pressure lower' I was released.

                              That is how I find it easy to NEVER eat grains and sugary foods, not even be tempted, because I see them as a poison for me, and they are (until last week that is!).


                              Originally posted by denise View Post
                              Certainly after 4 months of no sugar my recent episodes have been even more traumatic and I long for the stability of my "ordinary Primal" brain. Perhaps knowing the literal "cause and effect" helps - for your friend too. If you KNOW that what you are consuming is poison you are less likely to do it?? ??
                              It works for me.

                              Originally posted by denise View Post
                              Of course, that is "moderation", not completely banning alcohol so is different? I need to totally ban refined sugar - though if I keep eating some small amount of fruits I guess I am doing moderation??
                              There are some things that moderation doesn't work for. These are generally part of addiction. The alcoholic cannot moderate alcohol - I have a good friend who falls off the wagon every few years - he simply cannot have just one or two. I think refined sugar could be your thing to ban if you can clearly associate it with negative affects. As for small amounts of fruit ... grey area probably, if they maintain the desire for sugar probably not a good idea but if they don't affect mood and don't trigger you to forage more and purer sugar forms things like berries should be fairly risk-free.

                              As an example of my over doing carbs last week ... I allowed myself some fruit after my eggs and meat breakfast ... melon mostly, then some fruits of the forest which probably had some kind of syrup although I did my best to drain them. Then at the evening meal (these were all buffets by the way so pick what you want and eat as much as you like) the dessert stand had lots of creamy/moulded type desserts that were free of grains, so I tried a little spoonful of one or two, I did this each evening, the one or two spoonfuls grew, the fruit after breakfast became more appealing.

                              For me personally, it's on or off I guess, moderation doesn't really figure!

                              And interestingly, at a tangent possibly, alcoholics often have BIG problems with quitting carbs/sugars too ... Art De Vany writes about this. All to do with the fact that the liver processes the fructose the same as the alcohol, in fact you can get fatty liver disease with toxity from alcohol and from fructose (alcoholic fatty liver disease and non-alcoholic ...).

                              @Geostump - 'I used to tell myself I was happy and get on with it paint on the happy face' exactly ... it wasn't until I really believed I was cured, this year probably, that it suddenly dawned on me how much energy it had taken just to appear 'normal' and 'coping'. Now I just am. No effort required. That's when I knew I'd cracked it and when I realised how people who have never suffered this way find it totally incomprehensible to understand. If you've never had to 'try' to be happy, or not unhappy etc, you simply have no frame of reference.
                              Seeking the natural way in a modern world ...

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