Thanks for the posts on The Mood cure and also Dr Schreiber's book. Nutrition as a field 'almost entirely abandoned' by mental health professionals - this is a very pertinent statement.
There seems to be an ongoing debate in these communities about fruit Personally I eat plenty of it. I prefer to get the healthy carbs - I still seem to be able to control my weight, and those carbs definitely help when I am physically active. Fruit sugars just don't seems to have the same negative effects. I have no idea why.
On the subject of high vs low fat diets: When I started reading about all this, my brain was a jumbled mess of the words fats/carbs/high this/low that. I've been following the PB advice regarding fats - it amounts to the fact that we need to eat some fat and it needs to be from natural sources so not industrially pressed vegetable oils. Saturated fats appear to be fine, and as they are so satiating to eat, even better in terms of a healthy relationship with food and appetite.
I agree it would be good to see some scientific research into the relationship between gut health and depression - perhaps we will see this at some stage. Having read the info regards grains and legumes I took it at face value and cut them out of my diet, I can only say that it works for me. In retrospect I probably didn't have particularly good gut health when i was in my depressed state, although I wasn't necessarily conscious of it, and didn't draw a direct link between those two things. But going back to Dr Schrieber's point - if our professionals ignore the issue of nutrition, it's very easy for everyone else to do likewise.
The FA diet - 'giving up flour and sugar' is interesting. During my transition to primal I did it in 4 weekly stages -
week 1) Gave up refined sugar,
week 2) Gave up bread
week 3) Gave up all grain products
week 4) Gave up legumes and began refining the diet - eliminating chemicals etc.
But the biggest mood improvements occurred in the first 2 weeks when i gave up the sugar and bread.
Tryptophan is something I've heard of before but have never really understood it - will check that out, thanks.
Last edited by Owen; 06-08-2013 at 04:13 AM.
Just a quote from Mark on his recently posted 'Open letter to Doctors'
"SSRIs and other mental health meds often cover up underlying therapeutic needs for stress reduction and sleep improvement as well as physical conditions like dietary allergies/sensitivities, nutritional deficits, and drug interactions. Can we all back up for a minute and reconsider the conventional teachings and protocols?"
Knowing what I now know, he is absolutely right.
I think a lot of the time doctors are saying to themselves, "First we'll stabilize this with drugs, and then we'll look for the underlying cause." But then, if the condition improves with drugs, they never bother to look and see whether there is a fixable problem.
Thank you so much for posting this. Heads up: long, rambling post follows.
For me, much of my depression is tied to my weight. At the very least, when I am already poised for depression, looking in the mirror can set me off. I've been on and off diets for what feels like most of my life. I've been overweight in various stages, although never obese (and probably not even fat). I'm a former bulimic, and I still have severe body dysmorphia; I can't tell how big or little I look because in my eyes, I look fat. I'm working on this, but it's a challenge. (Two years ago, for example, I came within a pound of my holy-cats-awesome goal weight, and I still thought I looked fat.)
I've done the diet-soda and other diet-products WOE; I've done SAD eating for most of my life. I even went vegetarian for two years, and then became vegan, which left me feeling tired and sick -- so I went back to a SAD WOE, and that, of course, made me feel like a failure, and boom, it was back to not getting dressed and rocking on the shower floor.
I've tried medication. When I was 22, I went on Zoloft for bipolar disorder. While that took the edge off, it left me feeling like I had permanent balloonhead. I quit cold turkey (without my psychiatrist's approval), and eventually parted ways with that doctor. When I was 37, I went on Lexipro for depression. After about a year, I weaned myself off of it.
I found primal back in August 2011 (I was 40), after doing a CACO "everything in moderation" WOE since February 2011 (and losing about 15 pounds that way), and I dove in head first. I went strict primal for three months and dropped another 6 pounds; then I went Whole30 and started CrossFit and dropped another 5 in a month. I also became severely orthorexic. I was obsessive over what I could and could not eat, and the thought of having a mouthful of challah at a family shabbat would make me panic. I hit the wall around December 2011, stopped CF and slipped back to a SAD. Most of 2012 was terrible for me; a personal issue sent me spiraling into a black depression that had me wondering what was the point of anything. It was a very bad time, and I'm so grateful for my husband and dear friends who helped me through it. Took the better part of a year for me to get my brain back to a good place. (They all deserve medals, or a national holiday!)
This year, at 42 years old, I've been easing back to primal. Just cutting out the wheat and a lot of processed stuff helped me quickly feel better -- my mood stabilized and now I'm more able to just roll with things. I play more. I sleep better. I feel better. I don't know if it's the lack of wheat/grains, lack of processed junk, lack of added sugar, or what. I am, however, convinced that it's an inflammation issue: when I am inflamed, that can trigger depression or make it easier for me to succumb to depression. Sure, I still have my mood swings, but now they're not engulfing. Now I'm not battling darkness. Now I'm able to identify it when it starts, and talk myself through it/breathe through it/distract myself from it. And it passes. And then I let it go, instead of holding onto it and turning it into a vicious cycle.
Simply put: eating primally helps me enjoy living. It's like I'm finally breathing after years of holding my breath.
I've returned to 80% - 95% primal this June, with some days better than others. For the most part, I've been good about it. I started a Whole30 this week, with a lack of GOTTA DO IT RIGHT pressure. I'm doing my best to stick with it; it's a goal, not an all or nothing. And so far, so good. I feel better with more carbs, so I'm enjoying seasonal fruit (oh, those Rainer cherries! Those blueberries!) and not stressing over fructose or too many carbs or anything of the sort. I'm working to find the right primal/paleo way of eating that makes me feel the best and helps me be healthy. And happy. I have a long way to go before I can look in the mirror and really see what I look like, but I'm working on it.
So...yeah, long personal post. Sorry about that. But I really think that at the end of the day, being primal/paleo is going to add decades of happiness to my life.
And there's nothing wrong with that.
F, 43 years old, 4 feet 11.5 inches (yes, that half inch matters!)
**First-ever 5K race 11/28/13: 37 minutes, 18+ seconds, no stopping**
Thank you Owen et al for this post. You give me hope that within a few months, I too may feel better.
I had a lot of health problems that were relieved through primal eating.
However, about 2 years after starting primal eating I developed a severe depression and anxiety. I tried the mood cure and every other treatment I could come up with for a good two months. I finally found a doctor who agreed to look for an underlying cause but he encouraged me to try anti-depressents while we looked. They have come with their ups and downs but they probably saved my life. I feel great again and should be free of the meds soon.
My doctor believes that my gut is entirely the cause of all the issues - my autoimmune disease, fatigue, and now the depression and anxiety.
It shocked me beyond words that this could happen to me. I have always been a positive person and I eat really well, have a good social life, and take great care of myself. I though about ditching primal eating, but the truth is that I just could not come up with a reasonable way that junk food could help me.
Using low lectin/nightshade free primal to control autoimmune arthritis. (And lost 50 lbs along the way )
Hi Gabriola, welcome to the forum.
Thanks to Mark for again posting a link to some illuminating study material on depression in his weekend links about how people with depression tend to pursue more 'generalized goals'. People who aren't depressed tend to follow more specific tasks, instead of merely 'I must get more organized', or 'I need a new career'.
Jackie, your post which has reminded me that this is an ongoing process. Its a constant process of tweaking, adjusting, and also having phases of focusing on different foods, discovering what works and what doesn't.
Jammies, I'd be interested to know more - what was your primal diet like prior to getting the depression? I personally prefer that anti depressants are there as an option also. I am not resting on my laurels. I've seen some symptoms trying to creep back in - slept in late a number of times and felt a bit disappointed in myself, but then I remember how I was last year. This time around I've been a bit down but have been able to get myself out of it within 48 hours, or less. For me that's where this primal thing has done it's greatest work. Not in making me happy 24 hours a day, but in enabling me to take very good actions.
Last edited by Owen; 07-20-2013 at 02:49 AM.
Correction to my earlier post: the brain is 66.666% fat, not 80%. Still a lot though :-)
Part of my ongoing food trials (I follow almost 100% Primal / Paleo) - have ditched all dairy except for occasional butter in cooking. I went through a phase about 2 months ago of regularly eating full fat yoghurt, which I love eating, but I find it doesn't help much mood-wise. Mood is much better and I have way more energy without dairy.