4

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Mental Illness and the SAD Diet

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created December 22, 2012 at 2:06 AM

I wonder if any of you have been thinking about this lately. With the terrible tragedy that occurred recently, I'm really hoping the media will focus a strong light on mental health-- better treatments for it, helping families cope with it and how diet can potentially affect and contribute to it-- or even cause it. I happen to be raising a child with mental illness. We have one completely normal child and one who has been diagnosed with bipolar, ADHD, depression and autism. He is 14 and almost daily has terrible tantrums, sometimes to the point of violence. As a family, my husband, daughter and I have been on a paleo diet for two years, but getting our son to comply has been extremely difficult! Since the beginning of summer he's been off his meds and has lost the weight the meds put on him. He is still not completely paleo. He's been eating SAD at school... Lately I've been giving him probiotics and 5htp instead of the ssri's he was previously on. He's been doing much better, just lately... I wonder why, with all we know about nutrition, why the mental health community doesn't consider diet a possible contributing factor to mental health problems... Thoughts??

3eca93d2e56dfcd768197dc5a50944f2

(11697)

on December 23, 2012
at 12:16 PM

As it has been demonstrated on various forums and over here many times now, most people are wheat intolerant, so you don't have to be a celiac to cut down gluten. To get back to health, especially mental health, gluten must not be ingested at all. I hope all turns out ok!

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on December 23, 2012
at 08:07 AM

One more link:http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/07/a-land-without-guns-how-japan-has-virtually-eliminated-shooting-deaths/260189/

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on December 23, 2012
at 07:48 AM

Here is a link for you.http://www.upworthy.com/the-nra-thinks-more-guns-are-the-answer-bless-their-hearts-then-watch-this?g=2&c=ufb1

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on December 23, 2012
at 07:11 AM

Gun laws are not going to do anything. If you want to reduce death by firearms, you should get rid of guns. Of course, it is a big business (multi-billion) and nobody is going to do it. But it's the answer. Other countries are doing it. Have you ever heard of mass shooting in Japan? And you never going to.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on December 23, 2012
at 06:59 AM

backgrounds that is

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on December 23, 2012
at 06:59 AM

Most definitely. Allergies to food, chemicals, you name it. Since I worked with kids from different ethnic backgroun, I have noticed that not all cultures had the same health decline. That really made me wonder the way culture influences health, including mental health.

7dab2d8c97e44d8d0c298e5c9d5d75bc

(641)

on December 23, 2012
at 03:40 AM

VB, I see why you're saying they were not well!

7dab2d8c97e44d8d0c298e5c9d5d75bc

(641)

on December 23, 2012
at 03:38 AM

And personally, I do wish we didn't keep guns. However, I'll bet that mother who killed to protect herself and her baby was very happy she had a gun that night. I do believe a lot of depression and mental issues have a lot to do with the violence in our country.

7dab2d8c97e44d8d0c298e5c9d5d75bc

(641)

on December 23, 2012
at 03:35 AM

Ha! Yes. I got off ADHD medication and controlled my diet a lot. My family can tell when I eat sugar of any sort!

7dab2d8c97e44d8d0c298e5c9d5d75bc

(641)

on December 23, 2012
at 03:35 AM

Ok- I can honestly say VB, that I've lived in Maine where nearly everyone has a gun *granted, they are for hunting not killing people* and there are RARELY issues. I will never own a gun... But, I do believe that it's a grey area the government has a tough time regulating correctly. We don't want a system where the people don't have power, and that's one tough line to cross.

7dab2d8c97e44d8d0c298e5c9d5d75bc

(641)

on December 23, 2012
at 03:34 AM

Ok- I can honestly say VB, that I've lived in Maine where nearly everyone has a gun *granted, they are for hunting not killing people. I will never own a gun... But, I do believe that it's a grey area the government has a tough time regulating correctly. We don't want a system where the people don't have power, and that's one tough line to cross.

A08b210e4da7e69cd792bddc1f4aae4b

(1031)

on December 23, 2012
at 03:03 AM

Fill him up with lots of good quality sat fats for breakfast? That way he might not eat so much crap at school and he will at least get some good nutrients in him each day.

Fee335d9155036b49f700d818eb894e6

(20)

on December 22, 2012
at 08:21 PM

Thanks for the suggestion Lazza. It makes a lot of sense. Unfortunately, it is likely the only reason he goes to school at all is for the junk food. He goes two hours late every day on a bus that comes just for him and only has two classes a day and lunch. It isn't working for him, and we're doing our best to get him in a special school. Maybe there we'll be able to successfully implement the gluten-free diet.

Fee335d9155036b49f700d818eb894e6

(20)

on December 22, 2012
at 08:11 PM

Yes, sugar and gluten and years of powerful drugs we don't know the long term effects of- no doubt they alter the circuitry in susceptible people. Better to change late than never. They do say the brain is very plastic.

Fee335d9155036b49f700d818eb894e6

(20)

on December 22, 2012
at 08:05 PM

The ketogenic diet is very interesting. I'll be reading your links more thoroughly. It is interesting that it is useful not only for mental health but also for seizure disorders which my son has a history of. Maybe he never needed the six years of Depakote for seizures... The majority of our calories these days do come from fats.

Fee335d9155036b49f700d818eb894e6

(20)

on December 22, 2012
at 07:20 PM

Yes, I've read it!! It is a wonderful book! Hard to get my son on board. I wish it was old news in the medical & mental health community, but it ain't!

Fee335d9155036b49f700d818eb894e6

(20)

on December 22, 2012
at 07:18 PM

Thank you for the kind words... I can't help but wonder how many teachers across the country have been experiencing the same thing as you. Not just GAPS children, but also food allergies seem to be majorly on the rise in the schools- would you say?

Fee335d9155036b49f700d818eb894e6

(20)

on December 22, 2012
at 07:13 PM

thanks for the comments-- I will need to check out those books.

Fee335d9155036b49f700d818eb894e6

(20)

on December 22, 2012
at 07:09 PM

I agree with Kara, we need to focus on mental health. My god, there are many ways to get guns and many ways for a determined mentally ill person to kill people :-(

Fee335d9155036b49f700d818eb894e6

(20)

on December 22, 2012
at 07:07 PM

Yes, I'm a follower and a fan of Dr. Dean. I wish there were more of her!

Fee335d9155036b49f700d818eb894e6

(20)

on December 22, 2012
at 07:06 PM

I agree with you on diet. Actually had my son 100% gluten-free for three months over the summer. Not only did he lose weight, his itchy rash which covered his back and arms and legs cleared. Now that he's back in school, the rash has returned. I was thinking it might be celiac but recently took him to a gastroenterologist who says no. The 5htp really seems to be helping; he's happier than he's been in years just lately. Still has some major temper tantrums, but still. They have recently re-named bipolar in children to temper dysregulation disorder. I agree with the change.

Fee335d9155036b49f700d818eb894e6

(20)

on December 22, 2012
at 06:46 PM

I'm so glad that, as a mental health nurse, you agree that we're heading down the wrong path when we ignore holistic solutions to this problem. I also believe the drug companies are ultimately the reason why doctors don't learn about nutrition. Doctors look at you strangely if you ask to get vitamin levels checked or tell them you're eating a good amount of saturated fat. We have only one functional medicine doctor in our decent-sized city! I can't help but think this will change in time.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on December 22, 2012
at 04:50 PM

I know my comment is not going to resonate with many, but the recent shooting did not happen because that guy was not well. That recent shooting happened because of the second amendment. Get rid of that amendment and you will have no more shootings.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on December 22, 2012
at 04:47 PM

I totally loved your links! Thank you so much! +1

47edf681280750c3712a3a56f2eae33b

on December 22, 2012
at 06:59 AM

I'm wondering what the effect of the food in a Standard American Diet has on reproductive health and progeny.

Cb9a270955e2c277a02c4a4b5dad10b5

(10989)

on December 22, 2012
at 03:57 AM

Not sure what you're asking?>

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11 Answers

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3
F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on December 22, 2012
at 06:03 AM

As a former teacher, I witnessed it with my students. Every single year I observed that we had more and more "problem" cases. It was like an epidemic of some sort. I especially remember the last five years - the decline in mental and overall health was so drastic!

I had way too many dyslexic, ADHD, ADD, autistic, behavior problem etc. kids in every single class. I could count healthy kids on ONE hand - not even on both! Of course, it slowed down their learning process - in some classes for the most part I had to deal with behavior/learning disabilities issues. And the way teachers deal with them is by giving out writing/seat assignments. Worksheets keep them busy. They don't work, but... what else could we do?

At one point I even asked my colleagues - was it me or is it for real? My colleagues confirmed they noticed this trend too. One year we had one class full of problem children - the administration even had to pick the teachers who could deal with them.

I did not know anything about Paleo and SIBO then, but, thinking back, I had tons of GAPS children. The thing is - the solution is SO easy. Why not to teach parents, educators, even kids about the dangers of junk foods? Of course, everybody knows that junk food is bad for you - but not too many realize HOW seriously it affects your life, your health, your career. Even though we had soda drinks banned in cafeteria, the food choices were not the best. Tons of ice-cream, desserts, unhealthy snacks. Limited options of Paleo foods.

Of course, it all starts when those kids are still in elementary school. Endless parties, candies, celebrations... birthdays, Halloween, Christmas. I remember I was reading one parent's account here on Paleohacks - her fight against sugar was not welcomed by other parents.

I wonder if you can contact school's administration and talk to them about your child's problem. He can start bringing home lunch to school. If you have a school counselor, he or she might help you to make sure your child eats it. Teachers usually monitor cafeteria and hallway behavior. You can always say he has severe food allergies - teachers are very understanding with that issue. Just don't tell them you got your kid off meds.

I feel for you. I feel for all the struggling parents. I really think it might get better if some nutritional modifications are made. Just get everybody on board - your son is worth it.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on December 23, 2012
at 06:59 AM

Most definitely. Allergies to food, chemicals, you name it. Since I worked with kids from different ethnic backgroun, I have noticed that not all cultures had the same health decline. That really made me wonder the way culture influences health, including mental health.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on December 23, 2012
at 06:59 AM

backgrounds that is

Fee335d9155036b49f700d818eb894e6

(20)

on December 22, 2012
at 07:18 PM

Thank you for the kind words... I can't help but wonder how many teachers across the country have been experiencing the same thing as you. Not just GAPS children, but also food allergies seem to be majorly on the rise in the schools- would you say?

4
Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32564)

on December 22, 2012
at 01:24 PM

At least one psychiatrist is exploring nutrition: see Dr. Emily Dean's blog:

http://evolutionarypsychiatry.blogspot.com

Fee335d9155036b49f700d818eb894e6

(20)

on December 22, 2012
at 07:07 PM

Yes, I'm a follower and a fan of Dr. Dean. I wish there were more of her!

4
3eca93d2e56dfcd768197dc5a50944f2

(11697)

on December 22, 2012
at 11:58 AM

I actually wrote a blog post about exactly that: the diet treating the mental illness that create such tragedies: http://eugenia.queru.com/2012/12/14/regarding-rampage-shootings/

Regarding mental illness and dieting, I did quite some research online about it last year, and gathered some info and links here: http://eugenia.queru.com/2011/11/22/paleo-ketogenic-diet-for-mental-disorders/ I'm not a doctor btw, just someone who's concerned about the mental state of the world.

If your child was to follow the Paleo-ketogenic diet to try and fix some of these problems (the younger he is, the better he can heal), he would have to be 100% gluten-free and compliant to the diet. Gluten is a key point here, since even a small amount of it stays in the gut for up to 2 weeks. Then there's all the other things he has to add to his diet, like fermented foods, offal, low carb, D3 and DHA/EPA supplementation, shellfish etc. You would have to prepare him lunch for school every day, he can't eat the garbage they serve at school.

I would highly suggest you take your kid off 5htp btw, because you said he's bipolar. 5htp works for depression, but it can create many problems on bipolar people (drive them to rapid mania).

Fee335d9155036b49f700d818eb894e6

(20)

on December 22, 2012
at 08:05 PM

The ketogenic diet is very interesting. I'll be reading your links more thoroughly. It is interesting that it is useful not only for mental health but also for seizure disorders which my son has a history of. Maybe he never needed the six years of Depakote for seizures... The majority of our calories these days do come from fats.

3eca93d2e56dfcd768197dc5a50944f2

(11697)

on December 23, 2012
at 12:16 PM

As it has been demonstrated on various forums and over here many times now, most people are wheat intolerant, so you don't have to be a celiac to cut down gluten. To get back to health, especially mental health, gluten must not be ingested at all. I hope all turns out ok!

Fee335d9155036b49f700d818eb894e6

(20)

on December 22, 2012
at 07:06 PM

I agree with you on diet. Actually had my son 100% gluten-free for three months over the summer. Not only did he lose weight, his itchy rash which covered his back and arms and legs cleared. Now that he's back in school, the rash has returned. I was thinking it might be celiac but recently took him to a gastroenterologist who says no. The 5htp really seems to be helping; he's happier than he's been in years just lately. Still has some major temper tantrums, but still. They have recently re-named bipolar in children to temper dysregulation disorder. I agree with the change.

3
Ab136abf1904c5f7908f3df596bf18c3

on December 22, 2012
at 11:01 AM

The media will predictably respond by trying to further erode the human rights of the most vulnerable in society by making forced treatment with psychiatric drugs easier. This is despite the fact that mental illness is not an explanation for violence whilst the drugs they wish to force upon those who are vulnerable do create violence!

Can anyone see the endless feedback loop this creates? Especially when as a society there is a propensity to confuse evil and mental illness and automatically redefine those who are evil as mentally ill even though the two are distinctly different things.

Meanwhile diet can have a dramatic effect even on the most stigmatizing and feared of the mental illnesses But then a good diet is a lot harder to patent and make money off, and this in my opinion is the main reason the mental health community does not consider diet a possible contributing factor to mental health problems - because the truth would cost it money (or in some cases because they have been denied access to the truth by those whom the truth would cost money - See David Healy's Pharmageddon and Ben Goldacre's Bad Pharma: How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patients). The same can be said about why the role of trauma and sociological factors in mental illness is overlooked, it is far more profitable for those who have now effectively bought science by now dominating the litirature to classify such things as irreversible brain diseases which require lifetime treatment like diabetes (oh wait, their words not mine - just remembered I'm on a Paleo site lol)

Yet given the lack of side effects of eating well and the devastating side effect profile of all the psychiatric drug classes surely in any case the first stop for someone experiencing (or wishing to never experience) the range of behaviours, thoughts and feelings society labels as mental illness should be to try and improve their quality of existence through methods such as improved diet, exercise and human connection. For those unable to this themselves surely this is the direction we should guide them towards.

I think it's important to understand that what we classify as mental illnesses are in fact just clusters of behaviours or symptoms - essentially syndromes if we insist on medical language - and without doubt in some unknown percentage of people experiencing these states SAD will be the cause, and for those for whom it is not the principal cause being healthier will still help reduce in some way the impact of the distressing events one has to go through.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on December 22, 2012
at 04:47 PM

I totally loved your links! Thank you so much! +1

Fee335d9155036b49f700d818eb894e6

(20)

on December 22, 2012
at 07:13 PM

thanks for the comments-- I will need to check out those books.

7dab2d8c97e44d8d0c298e5c9d5d75bc

(641)

on December 23, 2012
at 03:40 AM

VB, I see why you're saying they were not well!

3
6f4425e3c7dc0efe60da531c5d991487

on December 22, 2012
at 05:30 AM

Not to sound misanthropic or anything, but shouldn't you expect the medical community to be just as indoctrinated as any other community?
Seriously, it's the same community that doesn't seem to be too bothered by the fact that X millions of Americans don't have access to basic medical care, a good chunk of whom are children -- not that it's any more of a travesty that children are lacking basic medical care than it is that adults are, too.

The bad news: You're on your own, Penelope. The good news: Now you know you're on your own.

2
3327924660b1e2f8f8fc4ca27fedf2b2

(2919)

on December 22, 2012
at 05:12 PM

Old news. Read Gut & Psychology Syndrome by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride.

Fee335d9155036b49f700d818eb894e6

(20)

on December 22, 2012
at 07:20 PM

Yes, I've read it!! It is a wonderful book! Hard to get my son on board. I wish it was old news in the medical & mental health community, but it ain't!

2
Ed7403e397077dd1acdbf25c7f6e56ce

on December 22, 2012
at 01:36 PM

I firmly believe that ADHD and related conditions are due to eating SAD. Anyone who's spent any time with a small child knows first hand the impact a small dose of sugar has on a miniature human. Multiply that by every refined, carbo-induced insulin spike...

And then, after years of this drug abuse (combined with a lack of essential nutrition), all the WRONG circuitry has been exercised and habitualized... in effect strengthened to be dominant.

7dab2d8c97e44d8d0c298e5c9d5d75bc

(641)

on December 23, 2012
at 03:35 AM

Ha! Yes. I got off ADHD medication and controlled my diet a lot. My family can tell when I eat sugar of any sort!

Fee335d9155036b49f700d818eb894e6

(20)

on December 22, 2012
at 08:11 PM

Yes, sugar and gluten and years of powerful drugs we don't know the long term effects of- no doubt they alter the circuitry in susceptible people. Better to change late than never. They do say the brain is very plastic.

2
B16b7c0baca5eed2c9a09523001a57f1

(20)

on December 22, 2012
at 05:47 AM

Totally and utterly agree!!! I am sooooooooo disillusioned as a qualified mental health nurse and human being with moderate intelligence I think, with the incredibly narrow approach to the support and possible causation considered for people struggling to feel comfortable in their own skin and function again comfortably in their environment. For me I think its obvious how many complex chain of factors can disturbance a persons balance. However generally still I see how difficult it is for not only care staff to demonstrate the basic skill of genuine compassion let alone research which suggests the impact of areas such as diet being reviewed for a person being applied. The drug companies which feed the decision makers pension funds would be a good place to start to find the root of the resistance to implementing care which supports people becoming well again. I have been unwell for some time now with thyroid problems??, I have made the decision to be my best source of care using all the knowledge that is available to me, after 7 months of chronic fatigue which has nearly robbed me of my marriage and children I am now taking control of my care including a basic of going gluten free which has made more of a difference than any advice given by any clinically qualified practitioner. Clinical Practitioners generally just learn text book medical model stuff which apparently is a holistic approach, this gives them the income they desire and ego massage a lot are seduced by when making their decisions on their future professions at an early age. I think my dogs little toe nail is more holistic ha!

Fee335d9155036b49f700d818eb894e6

(20)

on December 22, 2012
at 06:46 PM

I'm so glad that, as a mental health nurse, you agree that we're heading down the wrong path when we ignore holistic solutions to this problem. I also believe the drug companies are ultimately the reason why doctors don't learn about nutrition. Doctors look at you strangely if you ask to get vitamin levels checked or tell them you're eating a good amount of saturated fat. We have only one functional medicine doctor in our decent-sized city! I can't help but think this will change in time.

1
7dab2d8c97e44d8d0c298e5c9d5d75bc

(641)

on December 22, 2012
at 05:36 AM

I'm with you! I was thinking the same thing after the recent shooting :(

I wish half of my family would get with the paleo program, as they're all depressed and have eating disorders (& mind you, most work in the psych field!)

7dab2d8c97e44d8d0c298e5c9d5d75bc

(641)

on December 23, 2012
at 03:35 AM

Ok- I can honestly say VB, that I've lived in Maine where nearly everyone has a gun *granted, they are for hunting not killing people* and there are RARELY issues. I will never own a gun... But, I do believe that it's a grey area the government has a tough time regulating correctly. We don't want a system where the people don't have power, and that's one tough line to cross.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on December 22, 2012
at 04:50 PM

I know my comment is not going to resonate with many, but the recent shooting did not happen because that guy was not well. That recent shooting happened because of the second amendment. Get rid of that amendment and you will have no more shootings.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on December 23, 2012
at 07:11 AM

Gun laws are not going to do anything. If you want to reduce death by firearms, you should get rid of guns. Of course, it is a big business (multi-billion) and nobody is going to do it. But it's the answer. Other countries are doing it. Have you ever heard of mass shooting in Japan? And you never going to.

Fee335d9155036b49f700d818eb894e6

(20)

on December 22, 2012
at 07:09 PM

I agree with Kara, we need to focus on mental health. My god, there are many ways to get guns and many ways for a determined mentally ill person to kill people :-(

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on December 23, 2012
at 08:07 AM

One more link:http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/07/a-land-without-guns-how-japan-has-virtually-eliminated-shooting-deaths/260189/

7dab2d8c97e44d8d0c298e5c9d5d75bc

(641)

on December 23, 2012
at 03:34 AM

Ok- I can honestly say VB, that I've lived in Maine where nearly everyone has a gun *granted, they are for hunting not killing people. I will never own a gun... But, I do believe that it's a grey area the government has a tough time regulating correctly. We don't want a system where the people don't have power, and that's one tough line to cross.

F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on December 23, 2012
at 07:48 AM

Here is a link for you.http://www.upworthy.com/the-nra-thinks-more-guns-are-the-answer-bless-their-hearts-then-watch-this?g=2&c=ufb1

7dab2d8c97e44d8d0c298e5c9d5d75bc

(641)

on December 23, 2012
at 03:38 AM

And personally, I do wish we didn't keep guns. However, I'll bet that mother who killed to protect herself and her baby was very happy she had a gun that night. I do believe a lot of depression and mental issues have a lot to do with the violence in our country.

0
5d4df309a112636ecf5af8c865e4e295

on December 23, 2012
at 02:19 AM

I recently saw this piece by Paul Jaminet, the author of "Perfect Health Diet". Interesting read: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/perfect-health-diet/201212/violence-are-there-dietary-causes

Really interesting link between Omega 6's and violence. Not sure about how credible statistics like these can be but interesting nonetheless.

0
75d65450b6ff0be7b969fb321f1200ac

(2506)

on December 22, 2012
at 06:16 PM

As others have mentioned, you will need to have your child on "dietary lockdown" in order to determine if going paleo will alleviate his symptoms. Having him eat SAD while at school will simply thwart your efforts. But yes, of course, I understand how terribly difficult it is to control a teenager's diet.

Although others may disagree, I suggest perhaps not trying to enforce full paleo on your child but rather only gluten free and dairy free ... as an intermediate measure. This way he can enjoy sandwiches made from homemade gluten free bread. Yeah, other grains are somewhat evil but I think they are less onerous than wheat/rye/barley. And as for dairy, for some (..including myself) it's pure poison. Yet if your child can tolerate it maybe some homemade yogurt is good.

Best of luck.

_Lazza

Fee335d9155036b49f700d818eb894e6

(20)

on December 22, 2012
at 08:21 PM

Thanks for the suggestion Lazza. It makes a lot of sense. Unfortunately, it is likely the only reason he goes to school at all is for the junk food. He goes two hours late every day on a bus that comes just for him and only has two classes a day and lunch. It isn't working for him, and we're doing our best to get him in a special school. Maybe there we'll be able to successfully implement the gluten-free diet.

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