I know there are similar questions, but I wanted to resurface it, if the moderators find it redundant, there's nothing I can do.
I'm mostly asking this question as a survey for people who suffer from major depression symptoms to whether they have been completely brought back to normal from eating Paleo. If so, what was it in particular aside from the main Paleo concepts? For me, I've gotten so many little health benefits, but I still haven't felt excited about a single thing for years since my depression hit me like a brick wall.
Note* - also at the time it happened I had experimented with hard drugs (ectacy and acid), but had only done it once or twice, but coincidently my depression started abruptly after I tried these drugs.
I've never been diagnosed with clinical depression but a combination of the following things help me feeling better:
Less concrete things:
I'm currently reading The UltraMind Solution which might give me new insights: http://www.amazon.com/UltraMind-Solution-Depression-Overcome-Anxiety/dp/1416549722/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1321294730&sr=8-1
Is your brain broken? We refer to our broken brains by many names—depression, anxiety, memory loss, brain fog, ADHD, autism, to name a few—and although we can’t see it, this silent epidemic affects more than 1 billion people worldwide. If you can answer yes to any of the following, you may have a broken brain: Are you depressed, feeling down, and don’t have the drive to do anything? Do you find it next to impossible to focus or concentrate? Do you get anxious, worried, or stressed-out frequently? Does your mind feel foggy, unable to experience the world clearly? All is not lost. In The UltraMind Solution, New York Times bestselling author Mark Hyman shows that to fix your broken brain, you must heal your body first. Dr. Hyman presents a simple six-week plan based on the emerging field of functional medicine to restore health and gain an UltraMind—one that’s highly focused, able to pay attention at will, has a strong memory, and leaves us feeling calm, confident, in control, and in good spirits.
Searching for other questions tagged with "depression" might also give you some insights: http://paleohacks.com/questions/tagged/depression
No paleo did not resolve my major depression either. I was diagnosed 25 years ago and my disease got progressively worse (as depression will do.) I finally accepted that I would need to be on medication the rest of my life which I was fine with. Since paleo I've made two serious attempts to get off meds the last one a 6-month stint last year. I did supplemental therapy ala Julia Ross but found no relief. I went back on my meds. Feeling good and protecting my life is more important to me than standing on principle but everyone must make that decision for themselves. I certainly think paleo can help some people's brains normalize but paleo doesn't fix everything for everyone. I don't think there is any better diet to follow in hopes of healing but paleo just isn't a panacea for all things wrong with the body for all people.
If you haven't tried exercise or looked into Julia Ross's work or others who espouse amino acid-type therapy those are worth a look. Depression is a horrible disease and I hope you find something that will give you relief.
My depression completely resolved but not on a typical paleo diet. I went from eating a VLC diet that was paleo-compatible, and being on meds, to a carnivorous, ZC diet, off all meds, and more stable and happy than ever in my adult life.
So my current diet happens to be paleo, in that it includes no non-paleo foods, but it also excludes many perfectly paleo foods. It happens to be low carb, but it also excludes many perfectly low carb foods. I was intimidated by the restrictiveness at first, but it's really not a big deal, especially considering that I have my life back.
Maybe a ketogenic diet can help (short papers, straight to the objectives):
I've been being treated for depression since I was 8 years old, on meds since I was 10. I have a long family history of depression. After a NASTY bout of depression this summer, I realized that no matter how good my diet or how perfect my life situation, I will need meds for the rest of my life. I supplement with fish oil, D3, and magnesium, as well as eating a paleo diet. I work out, spend time in nature and schedule time with family and friends to make sure I don't let myself get socially isolated, even when I'm stressed. I give my body and brain all the advantages I can, knowing I am genetically behind the 8 ball.
I've seen what can happen if you convince yourself that you've fixed the problem (my ex-boyfriend killed himself when he went of his meds). I've also seen what happens if you try to supplement on top of RX meds (DO NOT mess with serotonin syndrome, it's not pretty).
Your environment is probably causing you more grief than you realize. Environmental factors include: Home life, what part of a city/country that you live in (is it always cold and dreary?), your work (co-workers, crappy job, etc), your family, your friends, etc.
For those sorts of things, no diet can fix. You have two options: Change the environment or change how you feel about it.
I agree 100% with Melissa. People in the paleo community tend to focus on diet alone, but that's not enough for some people. We all need to be affirmed and have meaningful relationships in our lives, and if we weren't as kids then we'll spend the rest of our lives looking for people who will affirm us, usually subconsciously. Growing up with only one parent who was often sick, I speak from experience, but when I read Conrad Baars' books it really opened my eyes, especially Born Only Once, and Healing the Unaffirmed. As a society we've grown much more isolated and selfish than we used to be, imo the Greatest Generation could never have done what they did if they were raised by today's parents and lived in this culture. Generations ago there wasn't nearly as many cases of depression, anxiety, adhd, and other mental issues. Of course a main cause of that is our increasingly toxic diets, but I think it also has to do with the fact that people had more friends and family around back then. The more addicted to technology and material things we've become, the less we value people and true friendships. So I would say look at all the things that may be missing in your life on the spiritual, social, and psychological level, then focus on the physical. Ok now that I went on that rant here's some practical suggestions: Excess and chronic inflammation is a big factor in causing depression. One theory says that it's actually evolutionarily advantageous becomes it temporarily protects the brain from damage under stressful conditions until the stress is gone and the brain can heal the damage. The problem is in modern times we have chronic stress, which causes chronic inflammation, so instead of allowing the brain to repair itself, it causes continual damage which accumulates and prevents the depression from being alleviated http://www.ultramind.com/epidemic_depression.php. There are many causes of excess inflammation but I would say the biggest ones are a high omega 6/3 ratio, bacterial dysbiosis/leaky gut, excess sugar in the diet, and chronic stress. Make sure to reduce the omega 6s in your diet, increase seafood, and eat as much fermented food as possible. Studies show links between dysbiosis and depression and anxiety. Autoimmune diseases, especially food allergies, have long been checked for by naturopathic doctors as a cause of depression since they produce an inflammatory response that slows down the brain. Try eliminating all gluten, dairy, and soy in your diet for a week or two and see if your mood improves. Also make sure to take magnesium and vitamins B and C since they're needed to make the neurotransmitters you need for optimal brain function. Balanced hormones are key for depression, especially cortisol and thyroid hormone. Stress from a job, lack of sleep, or even drinking too much coffee raises cortisol levels chronically, leading to adrenal fatigue, which is a common finding in depressed patients http://www.drlwilson.com/articles/adrenal_burnout.htm. If you find that your memory isn't what is was before, that's excess cortisol causing atrophy of your hippocampus. One nutrient that can help this is phosphatidylserine http://www.drlowe.com/emailnewsletter/8.24.10/low.high.cortisol.fatigue.print.htm. Balancing your neurotransmitters is important as well. We've all heard that a serotonin deficiency causes depression but that's mainly because the drug companies have drugs targeted for that. A GABA deficiency may be more likely since it's the nt that keeps us calm and balanced. L-theanine is a good way to increase your gaba levels, but for some people they are in fact low in serotonin, so try 5htp for that. I would recommend a paleo diet but you've already got that covered and still have depression, which is why I'm recommending these other things. I hope you find the peace you're looking for.
Consider the value of a trace heavy metal test. I waited until I chealated out some metals so it would show up in a hair sample, otherwise the test is worthless because toxic meatls are stored or hoarded deep in fatty tissue and the brain. Mercury toxicity can be at the heart of many gut dysbiosis and cognitive effects like adhd and depression spectrum disorders IMHO from my research. After a tetanus shot (which I shouldve requested for mercuryfree but was too out of it to ask) and a titanium dental implant, my mood went from perfectly good to borderline pretty sh*tty over 6-9 mos. Im on an intense gut protocol, control of mycotoxins, and slow oral chelation. its all getting better but defintely wish recovery back to baseline was overnight!!
Modern toxins(NADS) also include ddental amalgams of our moms vertically downloaded to baby AND in our own mouths, annual flu shots, vaccinations, broken thermometers or light saving light bulbs, well water, excessive seafood, gut dysbiosis, excessive seafood consumption, genetic propensity for metals (apoE4, polymorphism of M1 M2 M3 M4 etc) and a host of other factors.
pubmed has great refences 'mercury mood human behavior' fyi.
yoga, family/friend support and weekly massages have been GOD SENDS for me!!
Henry, I really am sorry for your situation. I have hesitated on replying to your question because I don't actually know how helpful my comments would be. In terms of diet I do not know the answer, but from all I do know about foods for a healthy brain, Paleo seems to be ticking many of the boxes.
I am 30 and spent 2005 - 2007 nightclubbing and probably took around 30+ ecstasy pills over the two years. I do not recall suffering acute depression before (though have always been a thinker and more melancholic in temperament), but in 2009 I had my first real storm, and over the last 3 years have become very aware of the horizon.
For me acute depression is like a dark cloud that appears in my head out of nowhere. The only way I can explain it to people is that it is like being dropped into an turbulent ocean, treading-water to stay afloat and trying to bail out the water with a bucket. People forget that the very means and tools with which one could use to get out of the storm are the very means and tools which are made futile by the storm.
I really do hope that the following comes across sincerely and without any presumption or arrogance, I just want to share how I personally manage my storms. Perhaps this may be helpful for you as you continue your journey to recovery albeit possibly too slowly for either you or I.
I have a few rules in place that help me during a storm:
I watch the horizon for the storm, and learn to know my triggers: Sleep and not eating enough calories is a big trigger for me. I find that if I have a crazy week I get into a cycle of eating less full meals, drink more coffee, sleep badly and this all compounds into each other until I have to force a break in the cycle. This is almost impossible to do once I am in a cloud of depression, so I have to make the effort to check myself regularly when I notice I am starting down the path. When I am at my weakest in this cycle, just a something small like a personal criticism can seed the storm and within days I can fall into the black.
I do not trust how I feel or what I think during the storm: Once I am in a storm, everything I say or think about myself I have to ignore. I have to find things that are objectively true outside of myself and hang onto them like an anchor; things that are unchanged, solid and remain no matter how I feel or think. I have to know these and have these at hand before the storm as my hands are tied during and I will not have the ability or desire to find them in the waves.
I do what I am responsible for: This is the greatest and hardest rule but the most effective for me. Simply it is to do what I am responsible for whether I feel like it or not. That means that if I don't feel like finishing the work I am assigned in my job because I feel and think I just cannot do it, because it's too much and I left it yesterday and so it's more; I just have to do it. That which is my responsibility whether I feel like it or not, I do that. I just start, just answering one email, and then another even if I have a hundred, just do the top one and then the next and the next. Before long I am brought out of myself, and into objective circumstances outside of myself. I try and schedule my work, then follow my schedule not my feelings.
I am sorry if perhaps you are trying to keep afloat yourself and I am just describing the water again, but I hope that I have been helpful even in just a small way. I really believe that the body and brain are incredible, far more incredible then we think. I believe that recovery is possible, it may take decades but Henry keep on keeping on. The Paleo diet that we are doing here from all I am reading and continue to read and learn about, appears to me to be a beneficially maximized lifestyle of eating, and perhaps we will never be fully healed, but perhaps closer then we ever could be if we were not making this dietary change.