Sorry for the long title, but to put a connection out there I am wondering if at the end of explaining my situation there will be a chance that perhaps dieting properly will in time help me improve my chances of getting over my issues in my overall mental health/mood.
A little background information on myself is in order I believe... Well for starters I'm a twenty-one year old male who growing up in his very early years was subjected to the abuse alongside his mother and brothers from a sociopathic father. (that thankfully I have not inherited [psyche tested]) The abuse lead to me repressing memories, suffering from anxiety (chest pains as a small child that lead to health scares), depression, an introverted personality type, I'm insecure, and bottling up pain and suffering emotionally that I was told was formed as my own response to protect people close to me and to prevent them from worrying alongside other reasons. Basically all of these things hold true today and I've pretty much gone my whole life without having any real friends or relationships which isn't exactly healthy being that I shut myself away in my room all day. I do work, I did attend college for a short while, but in general my mood is just horrible. I'm not angry or frustrated, just down and blue and overall not happy with myself. I hardly eat and as a result I'm underweight easily with a poor appetite to match and I think that I'm living a lifestyle that might just be slowly killing me.
I'd like to first apologize for the long text that probably seems rather more like a rambling or a pity gathering paragraph but I figured knowing all this would be important to determine if the paleo diet, which apparently is great for mental/physical well being, might have a positive effect on me in at least one way. Second I'd like to thank you for reading and I am hoping to hear from anyone on the matter. Especially perhaps to hear from anyone who has gained mental health benefits from the paleo diet themselves or is knowledgeable on anyone they know of who has.
asked byJared_7 (20)
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on August 24, 2013
at 12:50 PM
Kudos to you for being a survivor! You've already made it through a lifetime of pain, and now you get to decide for yourself what happens next. Just speaking out your truth was very powerful.
I'd recommend a couple of small steps that may give you an initial boost:
First, B complex vitamins are amazing for stress. I don't enjoy swallowing them in pill form, personally, but I found a gummy form recently that's really made a difference to me (and there are liquid versions).
Second, magnesium helps with mood and is deficient in many, many people (it is a macro mineral, so we need a lot of it). It has many other benefits than mood, as well.
Third, sunshine and healthy movement (as others have said).
I know many abuse survivors and my heart is with all of you. I also believe you can have a great future with safe and enjoyable friends. As a fellow introvert, I tend to find satisfaction in a few deeper friendships rather than lots of lighter ones.
Eating well--yes. I'm sure you've already started to see the wealth of information and all the support here on the site.
All the best!
on August 24, 2013
at 08:44 AM
Happiness levels can be improved and mood swings stopped if you can increase in your brain the levels of serotonin and dopamine and beta endorphins (this is what psychiatric pills like Prozac do). If you get as much sunshine as you can, go out for walks and eat three regular wholefood meals (paleo) a day it can really help.
If you hardly eat you are unlikely to keep happy. You do work. Plenty of people are happy without too many friends and indeed introverts are found to be happier than extroverts as they can be content with their own company. What about joining a few activities like a walking group at weekends as well as yes moving to a healthy paleo diet.
on August 24, 2013
at 11:56 AM
I do think that a paleo diet is a good idea, but I don't think it will be enough to target your problems. But a paleo diet as a base is a good idea.
One book I'd like to recommend is "The Mood Cure" from Julia Ross. It contains recommendations about diet (which basically is paleo) and also information about supplements you could try. Given that you are on a paleo diet, the main recommendations are:
- Eat 20g-30g of proteins 3 times a day. If you don't have a lot of appetite, then make sure you at least get the protein. Good high-protein sources (ideal for low-appetite) are especially fish and meat.
- If your appetite allows more food than just the protein, then add good fats (butter/ghee, coconut oil, lard, olive oil for salads)
- If your appetite allows even more, add some carbs (e.g. potatoes/sweet potatoes)
The book contains information about several supplements you can try (mainly 5-HTP/L-Tryptophan, L-Tyrosine, DLPA, GABA). It contains a questionnaire, which let's you determine which supplements will probably help you the most (which is also available here).
So, my personal recommendations would be:
- Try a paleo diet first and wait at least a few months to see how you feel. Make sure you get your 20-30g of protein 3 times a day.
- If you need further improvement, check out the Mood Cure, which contains great information about amino acid therapy.
- If even that does not help you, you might consider a ketogenic diet.
- Another thing you might look into is positive psychology. There are some very easy exercises you can do (like "3 Good Things", where you sit down every night and write down 3 good things that happened that day and why they happened. This will shift your focus on the good things and away from the bad things, which we too often concentrate on).
- You might want to include some type of exercise
- Get outside as much as you can (you can go walking if you want, but it's not necessary. Just being outside with the sun and the fresh air is a good idea)
I hope some of this can help improve your situation.
on August 25, 2013
at 01:27 AM
Jared, Congratulations for taking the risk of posting here, reaching out, and asking for feedback.
You've gotten some fine information in the previous responses (especially Beth's), so I won't rehash any of them.
You and I have had very similar backgrounds; my story included severe, chronic, and treatment resistant depression, bipolar illness, and psychosis. Up until three years ago, I was on 8 daily medications for mental health, including some very heavy antipsychotics.
I weaned myself off of all of the medications, and have remained medication-free and healthy through major changes in what I eat, regular physical activity, yoga, and similar tools. I have used the services of therapists. I have gone to support groups. But I can say, based on my personal experience that what we eat matters, and can help repair and revive us in many, many ways.
Food is a tool, an important one, but not the only one. Physical activity is a must. I started by walking, just walking around my neighborhood. I later started weekly yoga classes, and a few months ago returned to weightlifting (which I'd taken up a couple of decades ago).
I would encourage you to remember that there is no one like you, and to test-drive different food paths, supplements, exercise routines, etc. I continually experiment because there is no one exactly like me. I also benefit greatly from tracking--my food and exercise, but sometimes I track my supplements. It's easy to do with phone apps, and provides excellent information about inputs and results.
A couple of supplement suggestions: (1) given the stress in your family, it wouldn't surprise me if your adrenals are a bit worn out. You may want to avoid/reduce caffeine, and take a husky vitamin c supplement (in addition to the magnesium) as the adrenals are a major consumer of vitamin C. (2) People talk about the keto flu (though you don't have to be low-carb to be on paleo, not by a long shot). The absence of carbs reduces fluids--and along with it, electrolytes (sodium, magnesium, potassium), so if you do go the low-carb path, make sure to have water with you at all times, and drink salted water regularly. That made all the difference for me (and helps with weight loss).
And last, but not least: consider yourself like a survivor of a horrible war. There will be long months of repair and reclamation; please be patient, and try not to compare yourself to others, or who you think you should be. I guess I'm saying that self-acceptance and kindness are very important now. Even tenderness.
Again, congratulations: you're moving from surviving to thriving, my friend. Angela
on August 24, 2013
at 08:44 PM
Getting plenty of sunshine, exercise, and good food everyday will alleviate depression and anxiety pretty quickly. Some of the other issues, such as long standing psychological trauma, will take longer but will happen gradually. Baby steps are better than nothing.
Also focus on your purpose, to be around to take care of those who need you. Your health ensures their survival and happiness. Good luck!
on August 25, 2013
at 01:50 AM
Adopting a diet such as paleo will help you with all aspects of your life. You will get a sense of fulfillment from accomplishing something while at the same time your body will be operating optimally due to the fuel you are providing it.
I also suggest that you get into weight lifting or some sort of intense fitness activity, it will give you a goal to aspire to and will also make your brain healthier and happier.
In regard to your self-esteem issue (which diet alone will not fix) I suggest you read these two books.
- Maxwell Maltz - Psycho Cybernetics (Easy reading)
- Nathaniel Branden - Honoring the Self (Harder reading)
You could also see a psychiatrist but I suggest you find a good one. The above two books will allow you to gain perspective on your problem and conquer it if you chose to dedicate yourself.
on August 24, 2013
at 08:56 PM
I get really wierd anxiety, I can spar and feel confident as hell but having to make small talk with the checkout people at tescos gives me heart palpatations.
Diet won't help you on these issues dude, talking about them with people and confronting them will. I can relate. If you ever need to talk feel free to hit me up any time. As much as certain people in the paleo community do my head in, for the most part, everyone is really nice and friendly. A good diet is a good body, a good body can certainly go towards ahving a sound mind. However, mental health is a multi area problem.
This always helps me take an hour off and meditate, I focus on the thing right infront of me and it takes away all my thoughts. It is meditation without the poison Koolaid.