Ive seen some threads about Paleo and depression but was wondering if anyone could expand upon how going Paleo in their life has helped any mental disorders they have similar to the ones listed. Im speaking about diet but also the way we were built to live (i.e sleep cycles, community, cut down on stimulus, etc...). These disorders run in my Dad's side on the family and I unfortunately also got them even though I didnt grow up around my Dad or half brothers (talk about nature vs nurture). I am trying to eat Paleo, take a boatload of supplements (omega 3, multi, tyrosine, sam-e, etc..) and have noticed that the more environmental Paleo factors I implement into my life such as more community, heavy lifting, and outdoor hikes the better I feel. My sleep still sucks and I often sleep 9 hrs a night and am still tired during the day (7 or 8 hrs and I cant function). Anyway, I was just hoping to gain more insight from any other Paelos out there who have conquered mental disorders.
I'm convinced that many forms of mental illness, particularly things like depression, anxiety and insomnia, are caused in large part by not getting enough animal products in your diet -- particularly saturated fat, which is a precursor for a number of hormones that affect mood and energy.
One thing to watch for on the fatigue side is that after a while, Paleo can cause what used to be "subclinical" hypothyroidism to come to the surface. If you're tired all the time, even when you get plenty of sleep, I would highly recommend having your thyroid levels checked (although there's a whole art and science to getting that done the right way). You might also look at supplementing with a little iodine, particularly if you've stopped using iodized salt.
There are, of course, a number of other issues that can also be at play: everything from sleep apnea (snoring or a morning sore throat are common symptoms) to nutrient deficiencies. Magnesium is by far the most common nutritional deficiency, and correcting it often helps hugely, partly because it allows you to more fully relax, both mentally and physically. Eliminating gluten can help, too, by allowing leaky gut to heal, which then helps you absorb nutrients better while also reducing food allergies.
I suffered from a couple of major depressions through 1999-2001 and 2004-2005. I managed to weather them through antidepressants. What ended them was lots of weight and cardio the first time, and the second time was a divorce, change of employers, remarriage, and moving out of the city.
When I moved out to the sticks, I weighed 260 lbs (male 6'2", 38 at the time). I started getting outdoors more; messing around in the woods, foraging for wild foods, snowshoeing, hunting, gardening, archery, shooting, axe and tomahawk throwing, and fishing; in other words, engaging in a lot of paleoish activities.
By last November, I'd dropped to the low 230's, and my depression issues were history; I haven't taken antidepressants since 2005.
Then I went Paleo in January. I've dropped another seventeen pounds since then. I've noticed my ability to handle job stress has improved too; I'm still in the same stressful line of work, but it feels like I'm dealing better with stress and am calmer most of the time.
Based on my own personal experience/n=1 experimentation, I think that environmental Paleo factors such as the ones you mention, plus regular exposure to nature, fixed my depression issues. I think that Paul Shepard is right that living as closely to our evolutionary design parameters as possible is a major key to happiness. Eating Paleo is part of this; some people come to it through the diet first, I came to it through the hobbies first and then the diet.
I think that eating Paleo plus paleo-izing your lifestyle (or at least exercise patterns if you're stuck in urban surroundings and the closest you can get to nature is the neighbourhood park) is probably going to help with depression and anxiety issues. I've been meaning to do some serious reading on ecopsychology as a result. I think that the Standard American Lifestyle is probably about as bad for you as the SAD, and that the SAD is just part of a larger meta-complex of lifestyle factors that make us fat and unhappy and alienated. The more you Paleoize your life the happier and healthier you'll be.
And now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going turkey hunting.
Anti-epilepsy meds are given to fend Bipolar Disease, so it follows that ketogenic diets should work roughly the same way -- in fact, many of those who don't respond well to the meds do respond to a ketogenic diet.
The problem is to get into ketosis, even on lowcarb.
If you get too much protein, there's no ketosis (approx 1,5g/kg seems to be my limit), and if you do soft drinks (in particular with citric acid), there's also no ketosis for many. Some of this might be offset by eating a lot of coconut oil, specifically the MCFAs are burned(?) into ketones rather quickly.
Also, eating just once a day seems to hinder ketosis more than many smaller meals.
There is a tremendous volume of information that ties depressive illness to gluten intolerance. Ron Hoggan once wrote an article on this:
Ron's book Dangerous Grains gets into this is more detail.
As I comment somewhere else; I´ve Asperger´s. Best results with keto + n-3, B6, magnesium. Sunlight and movement helps too. The more fat I eat the better is my sleep. High dosage magnesium before bedtime is also helpful.
SOrry I can't really answer this except without my own personal experiences... I am experimenting with Paleo as a pseudo-cure for my mild depression and monthly mood swings. Honestly, this diet has made my swings occur less frequently (only been on this for 3 months). I don't know how to cure my stress though. I read somewhere that the low carb diet makes people more angry, but then again that was because people were limiting their calorie intake. Overall, I eat the same amount of calories as I did before, but low carb and high fat and protein. Stress is hard to reduce, and I haven't completely incorporated an exercise regime. I eat 100% paleo, but my lifestyle is 100% stressful because I am a senior in college trying to get healthy and get a job in a terrible economy. Overall I am happier eating this way because I don't get hungry, but I still get stressed out and have anxiety problems. I recently started drinking coconut milk and I seriously get really calm when I have it, probably because of the slightly sweet high fat content. Perhaps you should drink something with lots of fat before going to bed? Needless to say, there are ways to clear the mind before sleeping, and high-fat things help calm me. I might also add here that I have a family history of severe depression, bipolar, post-partum, and I am doing my best to beat the odds.
There are a ton of correlations to poke at in the research. Celiac (gluten intolerance) is correlated with autoimmune diseases like Addison's and Hashimoto's; a person with Addison's (for instance) has chances of depression 2x the general population, chances of bipolar 2.5... Type 1 Diabetes has a whole bunch of similar... there are studies suggesting a connection between schizophrenia and gluten consumption... etc., etc.
I have Addison's and had depression and ADD diagnoses for years; the ADD went away within hours after removing gluten from my diet, the depression after a few weeks. I was diagnosed with celiac last year, and we suspect that I've had it since age 3 and that it was probably the root cause of the Addison's.
In celiac forums you'll see discussions about what the first signs of an accidental glutening are for different folks. They vary widely, but for many, it's a rush to the bathroom; for me, it's a mood crash. There's no question of a connection between gluten and depression in my case.
Take the food intolerance suggestions very seriously.
have you been checked for anemia? many celiacs are diagnosed after presenting with unexplained anemia.
grain free does not equal gluten free. there can be plenty of gluten in supplements, for example