Mental Health and PB
Hi Mark. You have touched on issues of mental health in many parts of your blog (I haven't read through everything, but clearly, mind issues concern you and other PB'ers). As a clinical psychologist, I am very interested in the connections between lifestyle and mood, cognition, emotional well-being, etc.
For one, it is obvious that the daily sun exposure recommended by PB is perfectly aligned with what we might suggest for someone with Seasonal-Affective issues. Also, the release of endorphins as a result of high intensity exercise and the importance of playing are mental-health boosters. But I'm talking about a little more than this. I'm talking about including PB philosophy into more "serious" mental health issues from depression, to eating disorders, to attention deficit and hyperactivity.
There is some belief that some people who binge eat may concurrently have undiagnosed ADD. This would probably be most common in girls and women, but also with some males. The compulsive eating behaviors are a way for understimulated people to created some dopamine in the CNS. But the wrong kind of food, "comfort food", i.e. a combination of starch with industrial fats plus sugar and salt, the combination that David Kessler (in The End of Overeating) identifies as actually changing the brain chemistry, food that is as addicting as any opiate, is usually what is reached for. This sets off a vicious cycle. Whenever I worked with women with binge eating issues, I always suspect ADD. Sometimes a stimulant prescription will help. This is interesting because Adderol was initially a weight-loss drug but is now used primarily to treat ADD/ADHD. But it doesn't get to the root of the problem because most clinicians are continuing to recommend an adherence to the "healthy eating" philosophy (whole grains, frequent meals, reduction of animal products and fats, etc...). The protocol in most clinical settings is to put the binge eating patient in contact with a classically-trained dietician. This fails repeatedly because I believe it just feeds the vicious cycle, but in a more indirect and insidious way. Clinicians and dieticians mean well, but they are simply misinformed.
Anyhow, I would be very happy to see more light and awareness brought to these matters.
Binge eating and ADD? LOL- I always joke that I have "ADD moments" and have had issues in the past with binge eating. I never would have thought the two would connect. Interesting! Thankfully I haven't binged in a long time.
My brother began binge eating after being prescribed anti- psychotic medications for schizophrenia. He was an extremely healthy eater and almost as soon as he began taking his meds, he would crave carbs and junk food like crazy and still does. I don't understand how meds that are supposed to help you mentally can cause such havoc with your physical health? He gained like 70 pounds in one year and that was 10 years ago and he's still overweight. (Sorry just a rant I guess. )
I know my younger sister has a serious case of ADHD and binge eats like nobody's business, on or off the Adderal. Growing up, when I cleaned out from under the bunkbed, I'd find pudding cups and candy wrappers from her midnight snacks. I got to the point where when I heard her get out of bed, I told her to go back to bed, she could eat in the morning. "But I'm so hungry." "I don't care, I'm tired of getting in trouble because you eat at night. Go back to sleep." The girl ate like a horse 24/7 and until she was physically matured, she was underweight because she burned it all off.
Side Rant: For those who believe AD(H)D is a modern invention, I invite you to take care of my younger sister for a week and tell me how it goes. I pretty much raised her because my father was at work and my mother gave up trying to control her. she repeated 1st grade because she was constantly off in lala land and couldn't concentrate. The only thing that ever kept her attention was the boob tube and even then, I could tell she used it as a preoccupation for her "front burners" of her brain so she could actually think. She is distracted by anything and can not complete a single non nature required task without constant hounding. Try raising that for a week and tell me how it goes. /rant. That's just a personal beef of mine. We're only 2 years apart and I can see in her what I'd be without rigid self discipline.
i think all mental health problems are result of biological chemical imbbalances in the brain. however, couple primal blueprint, sun exposure, and actively working towards recovery to learn your "signals" and "signs" and i believe most mental problems and disorders will be able to stay at bay without medication.
for me, recovering from anorexia has taken a turn for the best since finding and reading primal blueprint. i have horrendous winters with the lack of sun and no vitamin D or sun lamp helps me. now that spring and summer are here and the sun is out around 85 degrees in the south my general sense of well being has like tripled.
i know i have "problems in my head" and they have been there all my life. my teachers at a young age would tell my parents i have social problems and couldnt make friends. i have always been shy but was a cheerleader for 18 years (the irony). i have a type A personality and extremely competitive attitude but mostly competitive with my own brain. i dont know about the ADD connection, but i always need to go go go and being doing something. i am not the type of person who can just sit around "enjoying the moment". i am way to anxious for that.
i only chimed in because i do have a mental disorder and i also see the people who binge-eat as having many of the same underlying factors and problems that i have but they are on opposite ends of the spectrum. i get a huge relief, energy, and stress control management from starving myself. when everything in life is going nut-so(economy, my money, student loans, car, bills, rent, affording food) i have this voice in my head telling me "it will all be okay if you starve" and i will gain back the control i am losing in my life. theres this sick desire in me to whittle away to nothing so no one notices me and i cant possibly cause any problems or have any problems.
anyways, i am fascinated that your a clincal psychologist- i am 2 courses shy from getting my degree in alcohol and substance abuse counseling and then i changed majors to business!
In terms of Adderol being the "cure" for all aspects of ADD, I don't think it works that way. There is a strong behavioral component that needs to be addressed in Binge Eating. There are perhaps also intrapsychic components, developmental components, relational, family, etc... As with most mental health/behavioral matters, it is multi-dimensional and needs appropriate treatment. A pill is never going to be the be-all-end-all of a mental health problem. Very often medication will bring on new symptoms (such as for the poster's brother who began to binge eat upon receiving antipsychotic medicine), and most physicians aren't equipped to address the side-effects beyond saying, "Ten percent of individuals who take this medication will experience some weight gain..." At best, they will recommend the patient eat a "balanced diet and get plenty of exercise". We all know what that's code for, right? No one says, "Take this medication, but in conjunction, let's get your metabolism under control. Let's get you living and eating in a way that evolution intended so that you can keep what health you have intact, and perhaps we can eventually get you to a point where you might live a more well-adjusted, integrated life."
There's another point that I'd like to make as well. I read Taubes' GCBC about two years ago, and am reading it again now. There is a part (I'm not sure exactly where in the book) where he says something to the effect of when people are overweight or struggle with eating issues, they are criticized for being out of control, for lacking necessary character traits to take hold of their own lives. I think we need to take a kinder approach to these things. Maybe we should say, "It's not your fault that all your life those in a position of authority were telling you to eat in a particular way (i.e. the "balanced nutrition based on whole grains, plant foods, white meats, no saturated fats, etc...), and exercise in a particular way (chronic cardio). These folks were setting you up for failure and then telling you you've failed. But now let's change things up a little. Let's not follow conventional wisdom any more. Let's see if we can make this less about your deficient character traits and more about having had the wrong information all this time. Let's see if this doesn't work better."
What an interesting thread. Primal Body Primal Mind talks a lot about mental health and what we eat.
Right now, I'm helping a family member deal with bipolar disorder and she's making some major progress. She is eating Primally (for 1 month, now) and that has made a major difference in her depression/anxiety/mania cycle. I found numerous reports of gluten sensitivity linked to bipolar and I think it's a major player in anxiety and ADD, too.
I also put her on zinc, GLA and P5P (a form of B6), as I suspect that she may have Pyroluria (a major factor in bipolar, schizophrenia, OCD, intractable depression, major anxiety, ADD/ADHD, Autism spectrum disorders, and alcoholism).http://www.digitalnaturopath.com/cond/C371961.html
She has a lot of the secondary physical symptoms like knee pain and carpal tunnel (despite not suing her wrists in typical CPS-inducing ways). She's going to get tested to confirm.
She also has a lot of symptoms of hypothyroidism/Hashimoto's, so we're looking into that, too. Hashimoto's is mainly caused by an autoimmune reaction to gluten, BTW, and most thyroid problems in the US are actually Hashimoto's. It can be a root of so many mental health issues because the blood-brain barrier tends to be compromised.
Otherwise, she's going to a cognitive behavioral therapist and is doing medical qigong psychiatric protocols. She's feeling better than she has in years.
I too am interested in the connections between diet and mental health. There was a piece in the NYTimes not long ago discussing how ineffective antidepressants are for treating mild to moderate depression. I wonder if dietary treatments might be just as --if not more-- effective, without several of the nasty side effects that could add to poor moods (increased appetite and weight gain, low sex drive). Anecdotally, sugar makes me anxious and this can lead to symptoms of major depressive disorder. I've relied on medication in the past, but on PB I need none. I'd like to see more science on this.
Magouch-- I completely agree on your approach to encouraging healthful behaviors through support, not blame. The Biggest Loser makes my blood boil because it perpetuates the myth that overweight people are lacking discipline and willpower, while advocating the practices that got them there in the first place (Subway sandwiches, sugar-free jello and the hunger-inducing marathon exercise sessions). The amount of time and mental energy many women (and men, though to a lesser extent) spend feeling trapped in a cycle of impulse, guilt, and shame is tragic.
PB has done wonders for my mental health. After struggling for years with clinical depression, it's only now, after practicing this way of living, that I feel that I have found an answer.
oh without a doubt in my messed up mind- i definitely 100% think that dietary nutrition is superior to ANYYYYYY medicine or counseling, i was on a anti-dpressant for about a month before i got 9829348 times WORSE, threw it out and will never for the rest my life touc ANY medicie at all- no even aspirin.
when it comes down to it the biological base behind mental disorders have NOTHING to do with fod persay...food was what was environmentally set up and exposed to for "control" which is the real underlying issue with eating disorder
for those intrested i have a RACK of studies i will post tomorrow(they are in my favorites at work) on the mental health-diet-hormone connections