Can going Paleo cause depression?

Answered on November 06, 2014
Created September 19, 2014 at 11:28 PM

 I've been gluten-free since 2011, just went Paleo a month ago.  All remaining digestive issues age gone!  I need less sleep and have more energy.  Lost three pounds without trying (I am pretty close to an ideal weight).  Physically, I couldn't feel much better.  But I'm starting to feel depressed for no reason.  I'm not prone to depression (had a little baby blues with my first child, it resolved on its own).  Is this detox?  Everything I have read says Paleo can help ease depression, not cause it...Ideas? 

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on November 06, 2014
at 02:08 AM

Congratulations on the success of your journey and sorry to hear about the possible side effects you are experiencing. I believe many of the forum members have it right. Your body may be going through some type of withdrawal with a certain food. I had the same feelings when I stopped drinking coffee. From mood swings, anger, sadness, crying for no reason, skin rashes, lethargy, was very scary and strange. Did research and found these are common withdrawal symptoms of anything from drugs, foods, habits, etc.

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on October 12, 2014
at 09:17 PM

As we know, a change in diet definitely has the potential to affect how people feel both physically and psychologically. So perhaps without even realizing it, you may have somehow been 'mentally' relying on one or more of the foods that you regularly ate before making the switch to paleo? Meaning, something from your past diet such as sugars, other ingredients, or chemicals could have been giving you that mood boost that you're not getting now. Perhaps search for an all-natural, non-addictive mood improving supplement and/or try a new exercise routine to see if that helps. Although if it doesn't, you may wanna seriously consider adjusting your diet again. Good Luck! 


on October 13, 2014
at 12:53 PM

Thanks for your comments.  I will consider both of those.  I just had my family reunion this weekend, not a lot of Paleo choices but I did the best I could.  Did have sugary stuff, could feel it working on my brain, so I think my issue is sugar and I'll have to do as you suggested, find a sub in diet or tweak the workouts.  Glad to home with my veggies-


on September 29, 2014
at 04:37 PM

I think a lot of people use refined usgar and refined carbs as mood regulators. Conciously and sub-conciously.


Plus both gluten and gliadin contain exorphins- they interact with your opiod receptors. So wheat acts a bit like opium/heroin/morphine. Going cold turkey (sometimes literally) off those might dampen your mood a bit.

And also Ithink the nostalgia elemnt of food. Any sensory experience can trigger a fond memory- whether it's music or that cake your mum used to make when you were poorly. So when you radically change your diet, it's like being cut off from accessing those memories via the evocative route of food. A lot of family celebrations centre round food, so there is often alot of comfort associated with foods from those times- it reminds you of being relaxed/happy/in the company of loved ones. Maybe you associated your dad with sitting on his knee eating a slice of buttered toast when you were little. Every night as an adult you ate a slice of buttered toast not long before bedtime because you feel safe and comfortable and relaxed. Then you stop eating a slice of buttered toast every day. You've just kicked your daily connection to your warm childhood memory of your dad out of your daily routine as well as the dairy and the gluten. You maybe didn't conciously experience the toast before bed as that memory, but on some level it tickled the same synapses. So maybe remember a time you ate a steak/banana/tomato salad with him and connect with that memory instead. So in your paricular case it might not be toast and your dad, but you get the idea.

Dependin gon how many other paleo people you know, it could also just be making you feel a bit different and detached or isolated. 


on September 29, 2014
at 05:04 PM

I think what you said is right, this is something about my brain needing sugar to make me feel good.  After I wrote the post I spiraled further downward and added some sugar (via homemade preserves) into my diet.  I feel a little better.  I may be better off weaning off sugar rather than cold turkey.

I am lucky that I am gluten intolerant.  When I first started gluten free, going back in a moment of weakness made me very sick.  Didn't have to repeat that more than a couple times...but I can tell my sugar addiction is very real and my brain doesn't want to work without it.





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