Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Yay! Another Post on Food and Psychology!

I'm pretty sure I came here and griped when, after the Newtown school shootings, someone I followed on Facebook said that all we need to do is feed our children lard and they won't need psychiatric meds. Listen up, folks: I've concluded in a very non-scientific, please-don't-quote-me-on-this kind of way that madness has always existed and this whole business about an epidemic is just the result of people actually getting treatment. British mental health blogger Seaneen Molloy put it best on Facebook:
I should also make some apologies. I used to sneer a bit when I saw people speaking out in things like Time to Change about panic and anxiety. Be a bit like, "Yeah, the common cold of mental health". Dudes, I'm sorry. I'm going through shit panic attacks and anxiety right now and its as horrible as anything else I've ever experienced and messing me up quite a bit. I was a bell end. Forgive me.
This "epidemic" isn't a problem of everyone deciding they have "the common cold of mental health" and getting drugs to dull the pain better than a healthy dose of Glenlivet. My biggest shock upon going to a crowded psychiatrist's waiting room for the first time was how sane people look. I can look pretty sane too--I can look pretty sane when I'm having a mini anxiety attack and my head is swimming and my heart is pounding and I have weakness I can't explain. The whole waiting room looks sane when you're all just messing around on your iPhones. Doesn't mean we're all mental hypochondriacs. 

So. Diet. 

There's a diet that's gaining popularity right now (no names) that claims to have had success with mental disorders like schizophrenia. Color me skeptical. Load up on butter and coconut oil and watch your problems melt away. I fell for its cousin, the "real food" movement, until I read something that said that vegetables are best as a vehicle for more butter. I started eating like a sane person again after that. (I swear, I've gone through more diet fads.) My very non-scientific, please-don't-quote-me-on-this mode of thought is that these diets may have a slight impact on mental health but probably have greater influence on diseases of the gut. I won't say that there's no impact on the mind--after all, I heard a BBC documentary on alternate prison techniques where one compulsive thief was taught to eat properly instead of having just sugary snacks and stopped his crime sprees. But it makes little sense to me that a diet filled with meat, butter, coconut oil, and lard is going to cure your major mental health disorder. Sorry. 

So when I came across the article Gut feelings: the future of psychiatry may be inside your stomach, I had visions of lard replacing lithium dancing in my head. But it was actually a fascinating read. It wasn't about changing your diet and having your disease get marginally better--it was about taking therapeutic levels of probiotics and having your disease get vastly better. And the article is not without moderation: Seems the probiotics work best in younger people, although adults can see different sorts of results. Read it--it's great. My window may be closed age-wise (and I doubt my psychiatrist will prescribe super-doses of probiotics), and I may be the biggest fool of all for not trusting diets yet trusting capsules, but I think I'm might throw in a probiotic to see if it can't help with my brain. I got a powerful kind when I was going to make nut cheese (which I still haven't done) so I may take it out of its lonely home in the pantry and give it a shot. 

Concerning my brain: Summer is ... very slowly ... coming to an end, which means I'll probably perk up a bit. (People are fascinated by my reverse SAD.) I don't know how I'll tell if the probiotics are doing anything or not as cooler, happier weather kicks in, but it can't hurt my diet apart from my mind anyway. 

Toodle-loo, comrades. 

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