This isn't really paleo but I thought I'd ask anyway. I've had "severe" depression for the past 2 years and didn't even know until a friend mentioned it a couple months ago and I took a bunch of screening tests online. I met a woman giving out rescue remedy samples at whole foods about 6 weeks ago and explained my situation to her. She recommended new chapter organics holy basil. I told her I'd taken another brand of holy basil before and it didn't do anything. She told me to try this brand. I did and within two hours of taking it my depression was 98% gone. I felt happy for the first time in two years. I was actually happy for about two weeks, some days I didn't even need to take the holy basil. Then it stopped working (along with the rescue remedy...no effect anymore). I continued taking it for the remainder of the month and it still didnt work. I thought maybe my tolerance built up so I havent taken it for 2-3 weeks now. I took new chapter rhodiola for a couple days but no help so I returned it today and got holy basil again. I took the recommended dose and no difference. Any suggestions? I'm sick and tired of feeling this way. I can have nice or fun moments throughout the day but it's never true happiness and at the end of the day I just don't care and am hopeless about everything. People cant tell because my demeanor is happy but I feel literally imprisoned in my own head. Please don't suggest therapy or 5-htp/st johns wort, they're for mild depression. Thanks for your help.
I have my suspicions about therapy. I think people got this idea that it would help because it does help to talk things out with a trusted friend, and it seems like everybody has trouble acquiring and hanging on to those (shallow relationships seem to be a dime a dozen though) so, as with every other normal human function, we think we can just outsource that job of being a shoulder for someone, and pay for it through the nose. But paying someone to listen to you... well, they're a stranger, they have no vested interest in you getting better if you're paying them to listen while you're sick, and even when they do have your best interests at heart (and I'd like to think most of them do... just.... yeah), you still have to go through at least three or four therapists before you find one with whom you mesh just right. Depression isn't a matter of pressing buttons and bingo, you're well. It takes a lot of fine-tuning.
You wind up feeling like a chemistry experiment, to tell you the truth... and one that's particularly ticklish and apt to blow up in your face and wreck your life at any moment.
I can say that while I've struggled with mood swings and depression for most of my life, getting more fats and fat-soluble vitamins into my diet seem to have coincided with my moods evening out and the depression being a lot less onerous. Your brain's made up of mostly fats and cholesterol and if you short it, it won't be happy. That was my experience, anyway. And I can't even say it was placebo effect because I wound up looking back at my life about a year into the greater access to butter, cream, and coconut oil and thinking, "Wait a minute. This is the one thing I consistently did that was different." Mind-boggling. (Or unboggling, in this case.)
I still have the stuck-in-my-head thing, but I think it's like if you break your leg in such a way that you have it immobilized in a bent position for a long time, and then you have to get used to straightening it out again. Likewise I'm so used to being stuck that I don't know what it's like to climb down out of my head. At least I hope it's from longstanding mental habit now and not because there's something else I need to fix. Like I said... it's like being a walking chemistry experiment.
But there's some pretty good research evidence that at least some people who are depressed have underlying physical-outside-the-brain health issues going on. If you haven't had labs done maybe you should think about doing that, if you can afford it.
And something I want to try when I get my stuff together is following the suggestions at the Healthy Skeptic blog for getting certain aspects of my health back on track. I think I am definitely long overdue for healing my gut flora, for instance. You might think about trying out his advice as well, those aspects of it that you're not doing already.
For what it's worth, I've also gone the SSRI route and I don't remember it being particularly helpful about the stuck-in-the-head thing. Mostly what I remember is it made me just this side of zombie-like and it messed up, ahem, certain aspects of my life as well, and those had been frustrating enough before the drug. Since I was on it I've read stuff about them causing neuro damage. Nuh-uh. I will have to be suicidal and almost beyond help before I ever go on one of those again. You're not me, I realize, but if there's stuff you haven't tried yet in the food-and-nutrition realm, you might exhaust all your other options before you go the pharmacological route.
Oh, and get enough sleep. That right there, the not enough sleep, is enough to send anybody's brain wacky. I don't follow my own advice on this one though. It'll be interesting to see what happens if I ever do.
If you have been severely depressed for two years you should consider therapy. I'm not sure where you got the idea that therapy is just for mild depression. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is very effective for clinical depression, and could enhance any natural approaches you are currently using.
I hope you are able to get the help you need. Depression can be a serious and debilitating condition. I wish you well on your journey to health and contentment.
Taking the tulsi might have randomly coincided with an up point for your brain? I have consumed tulsi as tea for years and never noticed anything. I think improving basic nutriton does a lot, but we can't eat ourselves out of the fact that modern life is so profoundly alien to our species that it causes all kinds of neurosis. Imagine yourself as a paleolithic hunter-gatherer- we don't know that much about their lives, but they would have been highly social, part of a tight tribe, social and sexual contact would have been constant. How many modern people (including myself) spend most of their waking hours alone? Besides that, we have all kinds of stresses like finances, commutes, etc. etc. No wonder we are so unhappy.
I also don't think talk therapy works. There is little evidence that it does. There was one infamous study where they had patients talk with either an experienced psychotherapist or a random psych student and outcomes were the same. I never went on drugs because I have a family history of drug addiction and bad side effects. I found a cognitive behavioral therapist to work with me without drugs and it helped some of my neurosis. It would be irresponsible of me not to suggest this since the description of your symptoms seems a bit worrying.
What I found that really has allowed me to cope though is that I joined a religious community. I know religion is really really really unpopular in the paleosphere, but it seems to be making a comeback as people notice that meditation works really well and its roots are in religion.
two mayor causes of depression are nutrient deficiencies and chronic inflammation of the brain. i would try to tackle it from these two sides first. it's completely normal and to be expected that agents like holy basil (or SMAe) which are effective at first stop working after a while as long as the underlying causes are not resolved. most likely nutrient deficiencies to cause depression are vitamin D, B-Complex (especially B12, Folate, B6), iron, magnesium, DHA, and others. i would start testing D, iron status (ferritin etc), B12, and the other standard markers (CRP, A1c, etc) first in a lab, and then begin supplementing at least D3, sublingual Methyl-B12, P5P (B6), 250mg magnesium at night. to mitigate inflammation, i'd take 1-2g of krill oil (or 3x as much fish oil), 2x100mg R-LA, and 300mg resveratrol a day as a start. alsom take a good multivitain together with a gluten and dairy free moderate-carb paleo diet.
Hi Danielle some depressions have organic origin, while others are more psychological in nature but in any case, typically both mental and physical levels get affected. I would start trying to find out if there is some physical issue, since those are the ones that are easier to solve. Have you ever been tested for hypothiroidism? it often provokes depression. Also if you lack any of the following nutrients you are likely to get depressed: magnesium, selenium, D vitamin (D3, specially for the winter months), coenzime q10, vitamin B group. You could also relieve many symptoms by exercising, any intense physical activity will be helpful, and outdoors activities are often very useful. Please take into account that even if you start a program that provides you with any needed supplement, your mind and body could take months to get full advantage from it. Lastly if you check all possible organic causes and still feel depressed, please do not hesitate to look for professional help in the form of psychological therapy: it is far from perfect but many people had great benefits from a good therapy!
It sounds like you got a nice bounce from the placebo effect which went away just as quickly.
Have you seen a doctor? You say you are averse to therapy but I would really recommend you reconsider that. From my work counselling women on a helpline, I can assure you that a lot of people skeptical of therapy end up benefiting from it. It is worth a shot if you are running out of alternatives.
And stick with the diet. I have found paleo doesn't cure depression but it can make you much more resilient with the worst bouts being less frequent. It is much more effective than exercise alone. But it will take time to get there...
Have you considered acupuncture? I believe it helps - and I believe it's more than just a placebo effect. A lot of health insurance plans offer partial coverage. You've got nothing to lose, except the money you'd otherwise spend on your prescriptions and doctor/therapist visits. In the meantime, I hope you get a rush from spring; that always lifts me up, at least for a little while.
I've been researching my own natural treatments for anxiety and depression. I was researching Holy Basil and your post in paleo hacks came up. I just wanted to see how you are doing with you're depression. You're original post was almost 2 years ago. Did you ever find a cause or treatment?
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