My paleohack - Can carbs cause irritability/mood swings/depression, clinically, or anecdotally within this community?
A 'summary' of my current position:
I have been eating 97.654% paleo for about the last 6-8 months. I've gone through various phases (whole30, low-carb, Mark Sisson-esque), for varying amounts of time (pretty scattered dude, in truth), as over that same period I have researched Paleo in all its forms intensely. Sometimes I find it a little hard to stay consistent with any one idea, as the merits of another promise something else. In short, my n=1 leaves a little to be desired for, although I'd say I score top marks for self-observation and hypothesis testing. Recording would be a good idea, but again I have found it hard to stay disciplined with that for a long enough period to draw any solid conclusions. I have a vague memory of feeling more stable on low-carbohydrate, but my performance also suffered somewhat.
I have suffered with mood/anxiety disorders of various severities since about 16 (now 24). I have been diagnosed with generalised anxiety disorder and cyclothymia in the past, but have since had those diagnosis' revoked on grounds of variability. I have been on SSRI's for about 3 years, tapered off to zero in the last 4 weeks. I can generally manage my moods with exercise and meditation; I read psychology at university and have spent my time since then training as a psychological therapist of sorts for the NHS in the UK. - I understand the landscape, at least psychologically, of these illnesses and what to do about them. 3. I am generally managing fine without the SSRIs. Symptoms seem to be about the same as the time I was using them.
My latest direction has been towards the "Perfect Health Diet". My motivations are primarily financial - eating Robb-Wolf-esque costs me through the teeth, as I generally run on around 3,000kcal per day (210lb, ex-bodybuilder, heavily muscled...hell if I were a car I'd be a Hummer, for sure) - but also for reasons of health; my research is generally leading me towards the 'safe starch' camp for optimal longevity, dietary satisfaction and fiscal prudence.
Having said all this, recently, I have been noticing more periods of intense irritability, where almost anything can set off that internal knife and keep it there. This seems to have correlated (at least in memory) to the introduction of more carbohydrate. A distressing experience, I'm sure you'll agree.
Sometimes, meals will calm me. Meals heavy in protein, fat and vegetables are sometimes the best. At other times, carbohydrates make me feel better. At other times, carbohydrates will make me feel better for around 1-hour, before I feel the cranky kick back in.
My collection of contradictory hypotheses a.k.a "spaghetti junction" is as follows:
- Dysregulated serotenergic system is exacerbated with the introduction of carbohydrate
- Dysregulated serotenergic system is currently more sensitive to carbohydrate, given an extended period of lower-carbohydrate.
- I am still too close to SSRI withdrawal to make any solid relations to diet, i.e. dysregulated serotenergic system....blaaah....
- There is another imbalance at the neurotransmitter level (dietary aminos creating diet/mood link?)
- A more psychological imbalance from earlier teenage years (sensitivity to negative mood states, a tendency towards self-criticism etc) is the predominating maintenance factor.
I have spent time on evolutionary psychiatry, amongst others (not least of all Paleohacks.com), researching these ideas, but cannot find enough hard evidence to sway me one way or the other.
Has anyone had any relevant experience in this field?
My thanks in advance for any contributions, no matter how 'small'.
asked byZenFire (281)
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on September 20, 2011
at 04:24 PM
I've wondered if carbs cause mood swings. But, there is so many variables that even with my n-1 experimentation I can't give myself an honest answer. I like Dr. Emily Deans blog. From here research I'm realizing how many different vitamins/minerals are responsible for mood swings. Therefore, if I feel better eating less carbs I have to ask myself am I getting more of a particular vitamin/mineral that I was missing on a moderate carb diet, but these things are extremely difficult to track from day to day. For example on lower carb I might be eating more vegetables like collard greens and broccoli and therefore I might have more vitamins/minerals available for brain health. And sometimes it feels like I'm happier if my protein is at 30% for a 1500 calorie diet, but I it could be the extra B vitamins and not the protein. But, I can't say for sure that the carbs matter, it's just a lot of starches that I can eat don't have that many vitamins and minerals in them. I have digestive issues with sweet potatoes.
I have never been very low carb. I don't know how that would effect me. I'm fine eating some fruit every day, usually tomatoes. I should track the carbs, again. But, even when I think they're high from eating potatoes twice a day, they're only at 20% of my daily calories.