Thank you Hil,
Yes it really does have to be the whole life approach, not just dietary. Thanks for pointing that out.
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!
Thank you Hil,
Yes it really does have to be the whole life approach, not just dietary. Thanks for pointing that out.
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.
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 at 02:04 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
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 ...
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 at 04:12 PM.
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.
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