Paleo conquers depression

22 Comments

This is part of an ongoing series of real life success stories from people all over the world who have been impacted by the Paleo lifestyle and The Paleo Solution. Read Laura’s story below.

I have struggled with depression and anxiety for most of my life, starting when I was about 10 years old.  On top of the depression I developed acne which was treated unsuccessfully with countless rounds of antibiotics. I was prescribed Prozac when I was 15 and became a different person.  It wasn’t perfect by any means but I was functioning and not considering checking out anymore.

As an adult the depression was less severe but added anxiety and panic attacks.  I was then prescribed Zoloft which seemed like another miracle.  I could focus again, not be overwhelmed with the smallest task and didn’t have to coach myself to calm down before a social function.  Again, things weren’t perfect. I didn’t sleep well, no sex drive, and walked around with a sort of numb feeling.  I didn’t get excited about anything, just existed.

While living with all of this, I could never seem to lose a pound.  Always felt bloated, and would go days without a BM.  I have spent my entire adult life on whole grains, low fat dairy, all the usual conventional wisdom BS but I was hungry all the time.  If i didn’t eat every two hours I would get shaky, cranky, my heart racing, feel like I’m going to pass out or shoot someone if I don’t get a muffin in my belly NOW!  I was horrible to live with, worse to travel with.

Then 6 months ago I managed to change everything.  I joined a crossfit gym and through that discovered Paleo.  I bought Robb Wolf’s Paleo Solution and read it front to back in a couple days.  Everything made sense!  I gradually began eliminating grains, dairy, legumes lost a couple pounds and felt pretty good.

Then my CF gym put on a Paleo challenge.  I signed up not expecting much but figured I owed it to myself to give it 100%.  I followed the plan replacing my carb heavy meals with eggs fried in coconut oil, lunches of leftovers or salad with chicken, and dinners of meat and veggies.

For the first time in my adult life I could skip a meal, workout on an empty stomach, and I felt good!  I started out 5’4” 130lbs, 23% bf and a size 6.  I lost 6 lbs in the first 2 weeks, 4 more in the next 2 weeks.  The weight loss stopped after that but inches were dropping still.  By the end of 8 weeks I had lost 10 lbs, was at 19% bf and a size 0.

As amazing as this was, it wasn’t the best part.  I went off of my medication two weeks before I threw myself into this way of life.  I took on this challenge while going through every major life stress you can think of, a perfect recipe for a total meltdown.  But it never happened.

Because of the information in the book and website i am medication free for the first time in almost 15 years.  I have clear skin and no nuclear war inciting sugar crashes. My body and mind are functioning the way they are supposed to.  I feel like I have hit the reset button and am excited to finally live! It makes me sad to think of all that I missed out on because no one thought to look at my diet.  This has changed my life in every way possible.

Thank you.

-Laura

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  1. Susan@Home Workouts
    June 27, 2011 at 8:48 am

    Awesome story, thanks for sharing. One of the best effects of going primal for me has been my acne clearing up. I even started to use a little coconut oil on my face every other day and my skin looks pretty damn good.

    Unfortunately, for weight loss, I’m one of those people for whom the paleo diet was not a miracle for. I dropped a little because of water loss but hoping some really awesome other things are happening to help me shrink. As for now, the little I have lost helps keep me comfortable in my clothes.

    • Leah
      July 1, 2011 at 9:38 am

      Hi Susan,

      Since you’re primal I’m assuming you’re still enjoying the loveliness that is dairy? If you’re looking for weight loss it might be something to limit or temporarily remove and then re-introduce after you’ve hit your weight loss goals. Check out this article from Mark’s Daily Apple: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/dairy-insulin/.

      Cheers!
      ~LeahinAustin

  2. Sandra Brigham
    June 27, 2011 at 11:51 am

    Great for you Laura. My stats are similar to yours. Did you give up the dairy, cream and cheese too? I haven’t seen any weight loss. Have seen inches lost though. No more chronic fatigue. Never hunger-have to remind myself to eat. But I’ve actually gained weight. Hoping it’s all muscle.

  3. Bennett
    June 27, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    Congrats! The mental health improvements on paleo are highly underrated, perhaps because more people come at it from a weight-loss or fitness perspective, and don’t pay as much heed to the benefits it can havet big fatty information-processor atop their body. In fairness, they’re harder to quantify, much more so than a concrete goal like shedding 6 dress sizes (which you get kudos for as well!)

    But I’ll wager that you’d much rather be happy and med-free than a size zero, if you’d had to pick–and I’m thrilled that you didn’t have to!

    Look forward to things getting even better. This is just the start of the good stuff, not the payoff.

  4. Tony
    June 27, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    You should seriously put up a medical disclaimer, that results will vary. I’m sure you’re not telling everybody to get off their meds!

  5. Christina
    June 27, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    congrats!! i posted a similar story on this site in November about how going paleo has allowed me to go off anxiety medication for the first time in five years. i’m almost 9 months medication free. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Primal Toad
    June 28, 2011 at 9:53 am

    Congratulations! Going paleo cleared up my acne as well!

  7. stone temple paleo
    June 28, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    Congrats, ans yes the combo of coconut oil and the diet does make your skin glow

  8. LeahinAustin
    July 1, 2011 at 9:42 am

    Hello Laura! I feel like I just read my own story! I am so happy for you (which was close to impossible not too long ago)! I haven’t been able to totally get off the meds but I’m thankful that the darn things are finally working! It’s been a long, windy, twisty road to where I am today and I love hearing stories like yours cuz they make me hopeful for my future.

    Best Wishes to you,
    ~Leah

  9. Laura
    July 7, 2011 at 8:50 am

    Thanks for all the support! I eliminated all the major offenders: grains, dairy, legumes. Im not perfect with my diet by any means, special occasions and eating on the road are tough but I try my best.
    Bennett – The mental health benefits by far outweigh any thing else, but it is great to see such dramatic changes all around. I started without a goal in mind, it was more of an experiment and “why not?” Its amazing how that one decision has changed my life so completely.

    I know not everyone has the same dramatic results in such a short amount of time, and getting off medication is something that should be done with alot of careful consideration. But even small improvements can make a huge difference when you are coming from a really bad place.
    Stick with it!

  10. Erin
    July 8, 2011 at 11:51 am

    Congrats Laura! It seems more and more people are sharing some of the amazing results with Paleo in regards to depression and anxiety. My family and I have been Paleo for about 7 months (varying degrees of compliance among our kids, two of which are teenagers). A few years before going Paleo I started medication after trying to “out-run” depression for 20 years. Meds helped in someways, but there are side effects that bring their own problems. Its been about 5 months, no meds, and everyday I am amazed. My husband has noticed that he can deal with stress in ways he never thought possible.
    Since its summer and my kids are making almost all of their food choices at home, I have alot more control over what they are consuming. My 7 year old son, who can be very high-strung, distractable and just sometimes a behavioral mess, is almost a different child! It brings a tear to my eye to see him able to wrap his head around dilemmas and frustrations without a major melt-down!
    Mental health is precious for overall health. Thanks for sharing, and your words of encouragement.

  11. tamra
    May 30, 2012 at 8:01 am

    It is so inspiring to read everyone’s experiences! I just finished weaning off of Celexa (60 mg) that I have been on for five years. Unfortunately PMS hit right at the end of it. Going through a little detox period which isn’t super fun…..but I’m hopeful.

    Any suggestions on how to get through?

    Paleo has already proven to be a lifesaver for me! Almost two pant sizes and 40 lbs down. The best part is that my hip, which always has pain, is starting to function normally….hiking has become a regular activity!

    Thanks :)
    Tamra

    • Jean
      July 1, 2012 at 3:57 pm

      I got off Lexapro a couple of years ago after 3 years on it. My doctor had me taper using Prozac. I experienced a lot of anxiety for the first 2-3 weeks and slowly that improved. I am still a fairly anxious person, but have figured out what tends to cause me depression versus what tends to alleviate it (sunlight, exercise, right amount of sleep etc). I definitely experienced a transition when I got off the drugs that was not very pleasant, and unfortunately for some people the transition period brings up a lot of the same symptoms that were being treated by the drug. But, it gets better….and overall I’d rather be free of those drugs because I gained 30 lbs on them and my sex drive was zero. Best of luck to you.

  12. Jarrett
    February 12, 2013 at 4:09 am

    Hey Laura, I hope all is still well with you over 1 1/2 years after posting your fantastic story on this great site. I was curious to know about your egg consumption, as I’ve heard the choline content is one of the keys to solid mental health. How many eggs were you eating per week at the time of writing and how about now?

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