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Carnivore diet and depression - what had changed the second time around

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For years I have suffered from bouts of depression. Anti-depressants were prescribed to me from my 20s, and at 30 I finally seemed to have found a "winning" formula. After all, a combination of two pills seemed to drive away the depressive feelings. However, I noticed after a couple of years that my memory was deteriorating sharply and came to the conclusion that the anti-depressants might have been the cause of that. Anno 2020 I therefore swore off the pills again, but ended up feeling depressed again. I needed something new.

When I first got started with the carnivore diet, I didn't know what hit me. After several days of eating only animal-derived products, I first experienced a huge energy dip. I felt miserable and listless as a result of switching from a carbohydrate-rich diet to one that consisted mostly of protein and some fat. Entire days I lay in my couch, wondering at times what I had gotten myself into. Was this the diet that was supposed to get me back on track? After about 10 days, however, the sky suddenly began to clear. Suddenly I felt tremendously energetic. The contrast with the previous days was huge. My depressive feelings disappeared like sneeze before the sun, I could concentrate better and organize my thoughts. I was optimistic, more creative and my short-term memory was greatly improved. All the stories I had heard about the carnivore diet were not a lie! Of course, the doctor pressed me to stop this diet that was causing strong cholesterol spikes in my blood. I also lost weight, which in my case was not really desirable. But how could I say no to a diet that made me feel so much better?

After a few months I then started a new job. After all, I was unemployed at the start of my new diet so I was also in a state of relative calm. I didn't have much stress. Did not have to wake up early in the morning. My experiences at work were largely positive. The same positive effects I had previously experienced at home continued in my new position; I couldn't believe my luck. Life was smiling at me. However, I also noticed that I became tired more often in the afternoon. I attributed this to a lack of energy, an inadequate intake of fats as well that could not fully replace the high-energy/carbohydrate diet of before. At night, I slept like a baby. What I hadn't been able to do for a long time was now happening: around 9 o'clock I could go to bed and fall asleep immediately instead of laying awake for hours on end. But the fact that I was getting tired at my job was still a concern, and so after a few months I decided to add some more carbs again to perhaps find a balance that way: the concentration of the meat diet combined with the energy of the carbs that were added on a limited basis. However, in the (6) months that followed, things went downhill more and more. I increasingly lost concentration, couldn't organize my thoughts properly, forgot a lot and often, and often had trouble listening to colleagues. I also felt tired during the day, yet I found it hard to fall asleep at night. Eventually I had to quit work another 9 months later because of burnout. Meanwhile, I had also been adding more and more carbohydrates because I had become disappointed and somewhat demotivated.

I thought the time had come to once again adhere to the carnivore diet in a strict manner. However, where the first time it was almost magical how quickly I made progress and started to feel better, now the diet seemed to have little effect on my mood or cognitive abilities. After 4 months I began to regain some more energy and suffer less from depressive feelings but the latter had not disappeared and other positive effects such as better memory and inspiration were also completely absent. I felt strongly that I felt better as a result of having more rest again (I went from full-time work to 50%), than that the carnivore diet was at the root of this. Today I still have this feeling, and strongly doubt continuing the diet. At the same time, I am rather pessimistic toward the future. Without the positive effects of the carnivore diet, it is not entirely clear to me how I can hold down a full-time job. I no longer want to be on anti-depressants, so which options are left? Working less is possible but not desirable for obvious reasons.

Are there people who have had similar experiences with the meat diet? Could someone please explain why it was so much less virtuous for my mood the second time around?

Thank you for taking the time to read my story. Alla dvice is greatly appreciated.

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You need to make a list of pros and cons of this carnivore diet. Also let go of the expectations, expectations can kill even the best of relationships, and thus a good diet as well. Adding a little carbs may not give you that extra energy, since you are in ketosis during carnivore, that may have been a mistake. 

A carnivore diet is a clean diet, no sugar high, no dopamine rush, no emotional eating, so from that point I can see why it would be good regarding depression. After all, you're no longer elevating your mood and body chemistry -thus emotional and hormonal peaks- artificially. Or with a substance.

If you do not already, work out. It's not only about what you eat, but what you do with it. Good for optimal metabolism, but also to have a mental outlet. Happy body is a happy mind, and vice versa. 

I realize this is a very simplistic response, but I feel like with something this monumental of an dilemma, you've got to start with the basics. Depression is something that needs to be approached from as much angles as you possibly can. Try to be very objective, rather than having a positive or negative emotion to a certain element of this diet. "Carnivore diet didn't entirely help? But did your full on carb diet? Does it actually matter what I eat?" Those are question for anyone by the way. 

I feel less emotional on this diet, and less emotional about eating, more stable. I miss the elation of eating cake, the anticipation of a cookie. But I realize I have stabilized myself by taking emotion, reward, addiction, out of eating habits. It's a bit more boring, but I get in return, much more focus, less tired, less down about things, calmer, leaner, lighter on the feet, I don't have to eat all the time. That list could go on. 

You may just have to tweak carnivore in a way it works for you! I did the exact same thing. It's a diet, not a religion, make it work for you. We DO know that sugar is not EVER good for mental health. Like ever. We do know that processed foods are bad for mental health, this is well documented. By eating carnivore you avoid both. So try to rationalize your choices by being factual and honest to yourself, and don't see things as good or bad, but rather, different. No emotional attachment.  

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I’ve only experienced depression one time in my life. It lasted three days and I got over it by getting my butt up and going to work and stopped having a pity party. I’m a man with responsibilities to my family and that overrules anything else.
So I really can’t relate to what your going through but there are a ton of people in the carnivore community that have cured all kinds of mental disorders as well as depression. So judging by the results from other carnivores you should probably keep going with eating carnivore.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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Sorry I can't write a full bodied response like you posted kudos. Seems like the carnivore life worked for you and went sideways once you added in carbs which can crush you. You are super sensitive to them which you proved earlier. I think the correct course of action is continue meat it did nothing but good for you. increase fat and you really need to make sure you stay hydrated with all the sodium pot and mag. I'd even fo go far as to introduce 1-5k myself of a reputable iodine. Make sure you match your salt.  both pathways on the cells require both. Depending on where you live please include D3. I'd cover all the D family actually. maybe  B12 drops take some when you feel down. 

I think going for what works and fine tuing is best. 

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Welcome aboard Jorik!

For starters, could it be that your previous carefree diet was the cause of your memory loss, brain fog, and other issues, and not necessarily the anti-depressants alone? Notice how you said that you felt great, and then as you added back carbs, and the started slipping down that slope of adding more and more carbs, your issues returned. Are you taking anti-depressants now? Did you quit cold turkey or did you wean yourself off them slowly. 

Flat out quitting certain medications can send you in a tizzy for a bit. It may be better to work with your doctor and gradually lower your dose. Cut it in half for a couple weeks, then cut that in half again for a couple more, then take that smaller dose every other day for a couple more, and eventually quit. 

 Outside of that, the advice above to make sure you have adequate vitamin D levels and electrolyte levels is a good one. Salt your food to taste, and then supplement with magnesium and potassium. You will want to get blood labs every once in awhile to check your vitamin D levels and if you have kidney issues you will want to check your electrolyte levels as well if you choose to supplement. 

But I would stick to it. You know it works because you've experienced it yourself. 

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