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7 wks of Primal & severe depression hit

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  • 7 wks of Primal & severe depression hit

    Hope you can help me.

    I have been very enthusiastically following PB for 7 weeks. All of a sudden, almost overnight, I woke up severely depressed for no seeming reason. And to go along with it, I suddenly didn't want to eat Primal anymore...actually I have kind of lost my appetite for anything.

    I don't seem to know what I am depressed about. It came out of seeming nowhere. I do have a history of chronic depression that ended a couple of years ago when I got off antidepressants. I thought I had left depression behind forever by leaving antidepressants behind, but here severe depression is back again.

    I have noticed in the past that when I try to change my diet I get depressed. Maybe I (some people) need carbs to keep a level of serotonin?

    Also, the first mo. I lost about 7 lb. The next 3 weeks I lost 4 lb. Now I have gained a few back and feel like I am no longer losing on PB.

    I hope you have some suggestions for me. I thought I had found the perfect eating plan with PB but suddenly it is not working at all for me.

  • #2
    I have heard of this often! Here are some things that have anecdotally been the problem for some people:

    Electrolyte depletion - get more salt, potassium, magnesium, and chloride. The body dumps a lot of lytes when transitioning to very low-carb. Mine was temporary, salt fixed it, then I wasn't eliminating as much after a few months and ended up with high BP from the excess salt. So now I just get my salt from bacon and sauerkraut and pop a little magnesium now and then. You may also be low in iodine, vitamin D, or any number of pet nutrients this place has grown attached to. I STRONGLY recommend eating a good half-pound of liver once or twice a week for all the B vitamins and others, and some seaweed for the iodine again once or twice a week. Bone broth is also easy to make and did help me, and I still make and consume it somewhat regularly.

    Punch your foods into fitday or a better food-tracking system and closely examine your mIcro nutrients very well, and find foods that wil help you - over the course of the week - to fill everything in. Between liver, greens, nuts and eggs, I think you'll find most of it covered. Oh, bacon is not only a great source of zinc, copper and choline - it's also one of the best sources of thiamin in the world. Check out beef heart, too. Tastes like beef, you can get it cut into steaks, and it's easy to store and cook at the drop of a hat.

    Carb cycling - Some people find it easier to maintain a good mood when they add carbs back, and smaller number of them may gain or lose more body fat when they do this. To offset those complications, many enjoy periods of normal-carb eating with windows of very low-carb mixed in. Say four or five days of one, two or three of the other. This worked amazingly well for me, while some find this unsustainable due to difficulty switching between fat and carb metabolism. Intense, infrequent exercise should fix that.

    And it may not be food-related. Look at your whole life. Does something need to be resolved so you can clear your mind? Address it!
    Crohn's, doing SCD


    • #3
      You're not neglecting to eat fish, particularly oily fish, are you?

      Paleo diets tend to emphasize meat. It is a good source of many nutrients, but don't neglect fish. There's a huge link between omega-3 fatty acids and depression. In fact, it's not just omega-3s such as DHA that are important. Seafood is the richest source of many nutrients the brain needs:

      Depression has gone up in the U.K. as the rate of seafood comnsumption has dropped:

      Glen Matten: Cases of Depression Soar - Is it What We're (Not) Eating?


      • #4
        See also this video featuring a doctor from the NIH in the States:


        • #5
          A few thoughts:

          1. Calories - Low calorie dieting can deplete neurotransmitters for some people. Try to eat more calories for a while and see if it helps.

          2. Magnesium and electrolytes can get low.

          3. Fish oil and vitamin D3 may need to be supplemented.

          4. Zinc - loss of appetite can be caused by a zinc deficiency. Eat some oysters or get a supplement.

          I recently developed a severe depression after over 2 years of eating primal. I have been trying to treat it naturally. What has FINALLY been giving me some relief is the addition of Evening Primrose Oil and SAM-E. I have always been pretty diligent about avoiding Omega 6 fatty acids and I don't eat nuts. But I read that some people need more of a particular O6 fat, especially if they have a family history of alcoholism. The Sam-e and EPO started working about 5 days after I started them. I have no idea which one is helping or if it is co-incidence.
          Using low lectin/nightshade free primal to control autoimmune arthritis. (And lost 50 lbs along the way )


          • #6
            Who, me? I eat oysters and seaweed, fish maybe once a week. It's overrated. Look up the actual survival rates of people based on how much fish they eat. People who eat lots of fish die earlier than people who eat less - but still a little - fish. The polyunsaturated fatty acids oxidize in your body, according to some ideas, and this damage will shorten your life. I like to play it safe and stick to land animals (organ meats, bone broth, tallow and - yes- just plain steak sometimes) for the most part, which my most immediate genetic ancestors likely ate almost exclusively.
            Crohn's, doing SCD


            • #7
              Thanks for your suggestions, folks. I will look into them. I also googled "primal causes depression" for the heck of it, and ended up running into Do You Have Pyroluria? | Primal Body Primal Mind Diet and Nutrition wherein pyroluria was discussed. Well I got an 81% on a test I found for pyroluria. This is a condition where some people need more B6 and zinc. I'm going to check that out. Apparently a urine test is diagnostic.

              Regarding your is not low calories. I doubt it's fish oil I take plenty. I cooked some salmon tonight and absolutely couldn't make myself eat it! I usually enjoy salmon but tonight it is a total turn off. I can hardly eat anything tonight and suddenly have a craving for wheat but have no grains in the house! (I've had no craving for wheat in 7 weeks). All meat is suddenly turning me off....I think I overdid that. Raw food sounds terrible...I think I could eat cooked veggies but I have no energy to prepare it. I also am craving potatoes. And I haven't wanted them in 7 weeks. It is like all of a sudden I don't want Primal. I have no energy to exercise either. I think carbs are calling me. So of the above carb-loading sounds like the thing to try.

              I ended up elevating my mood by getting lost in cyberspace researching pyroluria and natural methods of healing depression...found lots on HTP-5 and SAM-e. There is a ND in my town that treats pyroluria...I will go see her. Wonder if she'll hate Primal...most ND's are veg's.

              Every single diet I have ever tried of any kind (especially lack of dairy) has sent me into depression in 2 weeks. This plan took 7 weeks to do it and I really wasn't expecting it. I thought I had found my perfect initial results were fab. I really do like that the ravenous hunger I felt on the SAD diet is long gone. That's the best thing about PB to me: steady blood sugar. This total lack of appetite I'm feeling is highly unusual for me.


              • #8
                If you are eating liver, unles you have absorption issues, you can't be deficient in B vitamins or zinc. If anybody else is reading this, and has any lack of energy or depression, PLEASE start eating lots of liver if you aren't. I had NO idea how depleted I was. It took months of regular liver consumption to finally load my body with those nutrients it was lacking. I don't have numbers, but I do know I can't eat liver quite as often now. Probably the vitamin A in my body telling me 'NO'.
                Crohn's, doing SCD


                • #9
                  Yeah, you need to look at the links I gave. There is a large, and increasing, lot of data on this.


                  • #10
                    If I ever have a computer again, I will. Here at work, they're just black squares that won't do anything. Can't paste them into the browser or youtube, either. I'll try a few more things. I do want to watch them.
                    Crohn's, doing SCD


                    • #11
                      Well, for me it took adding in moderate carbs. Micronutrient balance is important, but some of us just get really depressed on VLC (under 50g daily) and feel better with more clean carbs. When I stopped trying to restrict carbs so much and started eating them in the 100-150g range, I found a huge improvement in my mood, academic performance, energy for lifting, and overall well-being.

                      I'm not suggesting eating SAD levels of carbs (that's also not good), but I think going too low can be a problem for some people, and if you are having issues, you might try bumping carbs up a little and see how you feel.

                      Oh, and I stalled out for weight loss after a while of VLC too (and I know a couple of people who put on significant fat on LCHF paleo and had to readjust). It's not the magic bullet for everyone.
                      “If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive.” --Audre Lorde

                      Owly's Journal


                      • #12
                        First, you mentioned carbs & serotonin: you actually need protein for serotonin production. Tryptophan is only found is very small amounts of vegetable/non-meat matter. It's an amino acid.

                        Second, you mentioned 5-HTP. Read "The Mood Cure" if your curious about how that and L-Tryptophan or sam-e or St. John's Wort work for depression. I use 5-HTP (precursor to serotonin) and L-Tyrosine (another amino acid) to manage my depression and anxiety. It works much better for me than anti-depressants ever did, and I'd tried several over the years.

                        Additionally, as others have said, if you aren't trying to lose weight quickly, and especially if you're active, you should toss some more squash, sweet potatoes, and white rice into your diet to increase the carb intake.
                        Depression Lies


                        • #13
                          Everyone has given lots of good ideas, but none of those good ideas will help if your body isn't absorbing the nutrients. You can have the most expensive and nutritious diet out there, yet still be sick if your body is unable to take the nutrients because of damaged digestion system.

                          So some suggestions:
                          - For lack of appetite, and for digestion, buy a whole chicken and make stock from the neck and bones. Have a small cup with every meal or at-least once per day.
                          - Make yourself have breakfast atleast. Force yourself to. With the chicken stock, you can make a light chicken or beef soup. It's very quick and easy.
                          - Make or buy fermented-anything and have a teaspoon of it with each meal (to help digestion).

                          King Asia makes real fermented kimchi, but you can also try sauerkraut or pickles or whatever you like (don't buy if it says vinegar in the label.)
                          Also make sure your diet has a lot of cholesterol and saturated fat (it makes 65% of my calories minimum)

                          I don't get any sunlight or vitamin D, and my diet isn't the best since I'm poor, but I haven't had depression since eating Primal and more so after having chicken and beef stock a few times per week. Before, I was a mess. Hope you start feeling better, I know depression is terrible...

                          Fermented Food Recipes | Paleo Diet Lifestyle
                          Making fresh bone stock | Paleo Diet Lifestyle

                          Maybe you should do GAPS diet if depression isn't going away. It's like paleo, but specially designed to heal the digestive system (and in turn, heal problems like depression or ADD or food intolerances).

                          Last edited by abstractpersona; 10-25-2012, 07:07 AM.
                          My smartphone makes me about $100 per month
                          Updating my journal again after a 2 year break.


                          • #14
                            I do not eat liver. I take vitamin d3, b12 and omega 3 supplements. I have always been low energy and depressed and I still am to some degree. I got sick last week and have not been able to shake it. So my questions are: Do you eat only grassfed liver or is standard okay (limited budget), how do you fix it, and most importantly can't I just take a pill???

                            Originally posted by Knifegill View Post
                            If you are eating liver, unles you have absorption issues, you can't be deficient in B vitamins or zinc. If anybody else is reading this, and has any lack of energy or depression, PLEASE start eating lots of liver if you aren't. I had NO idea how depleted I was. It took months of regular liver consumption to finally load my body with those nutrients it was lacking. I don't have numbers, but I do know I can't eat liver quite as often now. Probably the vitamin A in my body telling me 'NO'.
                            You know all those things you wanted to do: You should go do them.

                            Age 48
                            height 5'3
                            SW 215 lbs
                            CW 180 lbs (whole foods/primal eating)
                            LW 172 lbs
                            GW 125ish lbs


                            • #15
                              The first thing that jumped into my mind was that this could possibly be Seasonal Affective Disorder - it's the right time of year for it to be kicking in. I started getting that in my late 20s, it seemed to come out of nowhere. From my experience, it doesn't seem to be affected by diet at all.

                              Also, I developed depression last winter while i was eating low carb (my only carbs were from fruits and veggies, at 75-120 g/day). For me, it wasn't enough. I cut back on the fat and added more white rice and potatoes and sugar (but NOT HFCS) and I made a pretty significant improvement that's been long lasting. It could be worthwhile to add more starches to your diet and see if there is any change.

                              When I was trying to improve my mood (before I realized it was my diet), one of the things I tried that worked for a period of time was taking two amino acid supplements together (individually they didn't do anything for me):

                              1) L-Phenylaline (a precursor for dopamine)
                              2) Tyrosine (a precursor for phenylalanine)

                              I also tried Sam-E and noticed that everytime I tried a round of it, it worked for a month then stopped. Maybe you'll have better luck with it.