PaleoTori

Whole30 and Medications (psychiatric).

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Hi there,

I've suffered from something since 15 years old. I say "something" because the diagnosis changes with whichever doctor I'm seeing at the time (PTSD, GAD, Bipolar...). Mostly I suffer from extreme anxiety/panic. I'm on anti-anxiety medication and some others. Wondering if anyone else is experiencing what I am:

Basically I've been eating "paleo" for awhile now, just started my first Whole30 last week. I'm finding that I feel really good when I wake up, in the past 2-3 days. But when I take my AM meds I start to feel horrible. I've never really liked the meds but I did get used to them. Now it feels like I've been hit by a truck when I take them. Somehow it feels as if they're affecting me more now that I'm eating this way, then they did before.

I see it as maybe I'm becoming "clearer"/healthier both mentally and physically, so I'm more sensitive to any kinds of foreign substances. Curious as to what others might think.

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We hear regular reports of people feeling less anxious or less depressed when they begin eating the Whole30 way. Some report being completely cured of problems they had lived with for years and years. Not everyone, mind you, but some.

You should talk to your doctor about what you are feeling. Your doctor might need to adjust your medications. The dose that was working for you MAY be over-medicating you now. It is generally a bad idea to adjust medications on your own, so I would encourage you to discuss things with your doctor and not reduce how much you take on your own.

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I find things hit me harder (though I'm only on day 14). I take my antidepressants in the morning, and then I have a cup or two of coffee and about an hour later, my head is buzzing. I plan on mentioning it to my prescribing doctor when I see him, but yeah, it definitely seems like I'm processing or metabolizing the medication differently.

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Definitely do talk to your doctor. I deal with anxiety and depression, did experience debilitating panic attacks in the past but have a handle on them now. I started Whole30 this week but in the spring was feeling good so I (with dr's supervision) transitioned off of my med (Cymbalta) verrrry slowly - much slower than what my dr. had initially recommended. I am now successfully off them and I do feel like I have to do a bit more to be aware of my anxiety and address it with deep breathing, making sure I'm not catastrophizing, etc. but I feel MUCH better being off of it.

Of course, everyone is different but diet and lifestyle play such a big role in anxiety and depression that as you feel better it is very likely need adjustments (with your doc's supervision) to your meds to keep you feeling as good as possible. In the non-diet and med realm I highly recommend the book "The 10 Best Anxiety Management Techniques" and the Meditation Based Stress Reduction program created by Jon Kabat Zinn (there are courses all over the country and he has a bunch of books). Both offer so much insight into anxiety and how to better manage it.

Be very aware of how caffeine affects your mood. I do drink coffee but not when I'm feeling anxious. It really can be a trigger for anxiety or simply raise your stress level.

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JennyH! I am currently weaning myself off Cymbalta and doing my second Whole30. (The first was more of a Whole17...ugh.)

So I'm on Day 3 of the Whole30 and day 5 of the decreased Cymbalta dose and DEAR GOD IT IS HORRIBLE.

I am agitated, I can't concentrate, I cried at the gym this morning and then left a nasty note on someone's car for blocking my driveway - I'm all over the map.

I decided to coordinate the medication decrease with the Whole30 cause I also drink a lot and had decided on no booze while I regulate my brain juices. I wonder if I am setting myself up for failure? Like, I'm going to be unstable, I'm going to want a glass of wine and now you're telling me I can't have a damn cookie?! Will I rage my way into divorce court? How hard is this going to be?

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Landshark-- first things first, congratulations on being willing to make big life changes!

Now my second thought: Whew, Landshark, there is a lot going on in your brain!

Are you decreasing your Cymbalta with the help of a doc? I got off Cymbalta, but it was hard and slow going. I cut my dose by about 25% every three weeks or so... I had horrible, debilitating headaches when I cut the dose, but they did go away in time (and then I would cut the dose again).

I can't speak to the drinking, but I can say that getting off Cymbalta was hard. I did it! It can be done, but it took an agreement with myself that I was just going to accept feeling horrible and not doing much for about two months.

As an aside, I really wish someone had told me how hard it was to get off before I started it.

Do you generally eat Paleo or are you also learning how to cook new things with this Whole30?

I'm not a doctor, but depending on how much you were drinking before and what your Cymbalta dosing looks like, I think I would strongly consider doing this in consultation with a doc.

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First thing I did was march on over to my doctor. And I'm not doing this on a whim. I've been on anti-depressants for ~9 years. The last two have been picture-perfect - happy, stable, in control. Time for me to see if I really need the pills! For about a week now I've been alternating 60mg with 30mg. When I stop feeling sad/exhausted/unmotivated/guilty/paranoid/etc, I'll go to 30mg/day for a while, and then eventually step that dose down too.

I've been sorta paleo for about a year now. In that my kitchen is 95% Whole30 compliant but if I find myself at a coffee shop, that muffin doesn't stand a chance! Ditto: burrito, french fries, granola bars.... :/

Anyway! I decided it would be a good idea to knock off the wine while I get off Cymbalta. Go to the gym on all these hangover-free mornings! Be gentle and good and caring towards myself instead of the up and down of alcohol and sugar, while I pay close attention to my mood. I don't think I'll do an official Whole30. I'm scared. I'm scared it's too much pressure and I'll end up a weepy, guilty mess when I "fail" and eat something "bad." Eating a potato is NOT THAT BAD compared to my old coping mechanisms. Right?

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Glad to hear that you're working with a doc. It's not that you will never do a Whole30... just not this moment! :) The Whole30 will be there when the time is right. Good luck! Keep us updated!

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Landshark: I'm cutting back on my drinking with Whole30 as well. I'm not brave enough to get off my meds, though. I think that would be too much too quickly for me. normally, I'm an all-or-nothing gal. however, I thought better about it when it comes to my meds. (however, I have forgotten to take them three of the last five days ... eep!)

I'm wishing everyone on this thread the best. <3

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For the sake of anyone reading this in the future and looking for answers to any of this, here's an update!

I was on 60mg/day of Cymbalta. For a while, I alternated 60mg with 30mg. Then for 2 weeks, I took 30mg/day. For about a week and a half, I alternated 30mg with nothing. This is the tapering down that my (useless, IMO) doctor suggested. It was about a month, I guess, all together. I found the last stage to be hard, because on the days when i didn't take any medication, I would begin to go through withdrawal, and then I would take a pill the next day and get pulled out of it, and then go back into withdrawal the next day and etc. It was rough and i decided to just end it. That was on Nov 19.

So it has been 3 weeks since I took my last dose. Every day is a new adventure! Some days I am very very sad, but a lot of the days I am very very angry. Like, white hot blinding rage. I have had temper tantrums like a toddler, banging my heels on the floor and pulling out my own hair and screaming. And for no real reason. It is as though I have lost the ability to cope with ANYTHING. Something that would be normally slightly annoying is the end of the world for me. Dry skin? Makes me want to claw myself to pieces. Drop something on the floor by accident? Smash it as hard as you can and burn the house down. It is irrational and unacceptable and in the past 3 weeks has not gotten better. I honestly do not care who or what I hurt. And it is because of Cymbalta withdrawal.

There are a ton of physical side effects too, but those bother me less because they aren't affecting my personality and the way i relate to the world around me. Like, headaches. And dizziness. And trouble sleeping. And brain zaps and the feeling of a pressure change inside my head. I went temporarily blind in one eye. Whatever. Don't care so much about that. But "irritability"? That stupid little word that means grouchiness or fussiness? Something you use to describe babies with a tummy ache - THAT is ruining my life.

I've tied to follow the spirit of the Whole30 - I'm limiting sugar and alcohol and trying to eat real meals made of real food. I was using physical exertion as a form of therapy or mood stabilizing, but then in a delightful twist of fate, badly injured my leg and was unable to go to the gym. So in addition to losing the thing that made me feel a bit better, I also gained weight.

I could go on and on, but this forum is neither my personal blog nor my therapist, so I'll try to keep it relative to Whole30 stuff. Basically, I don't think I could have stuck to the program. I break down in tears and get overwhelmed by the idea of even going to the grocery store. I know this sounds a bit ridiculous, but I am so grateful to Emily (upthread) for giving me "permission" to hold off on a Whole30. I don't have to do EVERYTHING RIGHT NOW. God, what a simple concept that I needed to hear.

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I think you're fantastically brave. i've never been on cymbalta but I've heard it's one of the hardest drugs to come off. Be kind to yourself. You can do a W30 whenever. This forum's going nowhere. We'll be here when you're ready to start. I, personally, think you're doing absolutely the right thing by simply concentrating on your withdrawal and eating healthy without adding anything else in right now. You don't need any more pressure right now. Wishing you the best of luck with this and hope your leg's better soon. Take care.

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Oh shark. I so feel for you and greatly admire your courage. My daughter was on Cymbalta for 2 years. She felt that she was ready to go off of it after therapy made a big difference. It was a horrible transition for her but she was determined. Her doc did it differently than yours but her experience was the same.

We will be here when you are ready. Be kind to yourself.

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Hang in there. Have you thought about opening your capsules and taking 1/2 for a bit? That was what I did... and then if you need to you could even take 1/3 or 1/4 of a capsule. The every other day thing sounds rough, but I wasn't able to go from 30 to nothing. (not that I'm a doc!)

Getting off Cymbalta STINKS! But you are moving... just keep moving!

I had brain zaps too, and that funky pressure change feeling. I really wished I had never, ever started that drug and now I am way more suspicious of any new drug a doc suggests. (I come home and google "new drug+withdrawal symptoms" to know what I might be in for).

Hang in there! This too shall pass.

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@PaleoTori:

I don't have a good answer to this but still wanted to write.

First of all: You are brave to share this with us!!

Second: I have been feeling worse doing the W30, I am on day 18 now. Maybe things have to get worse before they get better?

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Thanks Petra. I think it's important to be honest about these things so people who are suffering can see they aren't alone.

Anyway, I had issues with my first Whole 30 and quit on day 23. That was a few months ago. I'm feeling ready to attempt another one, with caution. I'm going to attempt a second Whole 30 starting tomorrow!

Yes, I've read it gets worse before it gets better. :)

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Thanks Petra. I think it's important to be honest about these things so people who are suffering can see they aren't alone.

Anyway, I had issues with my first Whole 30 and quit on day 23. That was a few months ago. I'm feeling ready to attempt another one, with caution. I'm going to attempt a second Whole 30 starting tomorrow!

Yes, I've read it gets worse before it gets better. :)

Yet, I don't dare being open about all my conditions, but it's true, good to know we're not alone in our struggle!

Hope your next W30 goes better then :)

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I've been prescribed mild antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs. It's been more than two months since I got the prescriptions but I haven't opened the bottles yet. Not because I am miraculously all okay but mainly because I still have hope I can deal with the mood issues (and maybe anxiety... which I don't believe I have) myself. I've been reading medical articles (and articles by non-medics authors) about emotional eating, links between stress and depression, leptin and insulin resistance (and how those hormones can influence depression) and I believe I can somehow heal whatever my doctor thinks I have (then again, that 5 minutes long consultation without any other psychiatric history couldn't bring too much knowledge about my issues). Paleo way of eating, exercise, omega3 and vitamin D3 supplements, yoga and enough sleep is my way of healing :) I gave myself 3 months to try and see if I get any better. If not, then I will start taking the pills.

This might not have a lot to do with the original post but I just felt like sharing :) Good luck to you all :)

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I am glad to find a group of people like me who is navigating mental illness, medication, and nutrition. I have anxiety, bipolar, and binge eating disorder and have always been sensitive to medication. Since I was so sensitive to meds and always got dangerous side effects from the many I have been on, I looked for alternatives to treatment. That led me to Whole30 and Paleo. There is a lot of research about how people with mental illness need more protein.

I need to be strict Paleo and limit fruits and sugars in order to manage my illness. I can't do the 90/10 Paleo and have a muffin once a week.

I think of my food now as taking my medication every day. I wouldn't just skip or change my medication, that is dangerous, and so is not eating the way I am supposed to. I also have to exercise vigorously at least 3 times a week and get a sleep schedule.

And I admit, with the binge eating disorder, it's not easy. I will stick to Paleo and then have one small order of fries as a "treat" and end up at McDonalds 3 times a day. I am on day 6 of my Whole30 and hoping this time I can stick with it and then stick to a low sugar Paleo diet. I just think I have to keep trying. Also the first few weeks of Whole30 can cause mood swings and so can the week of your period so a lot f this is discovering what ratios you need to eat to keep an even mood. Doctors switch my meds every month to 6 months trying to get me stable so instead I can keep doing this until it becomes my routine. Meds don't work for me so this is my only option. I write about how hard this all is on my blog, Bipolar Spirit, and I am hoping that as a community we can support each other.

So, basically, this is all to say, that I think it is worth trying over and over again. If we fall off the Paleo wagon, we have not failed. It's a learning experience and we discover a bit more about what we need and how to do better with it next time. We are fighting for our lives and we are all worth it!

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Tori,

I sure hope you are doing better since your last post on this topic! The one thing I would like to offer that hasn't been mentioned here is to suggest you find a naturopath. A naturopath would work with you to help you find your bodies natural balance again.

The terrrible thing about too many psychiatric medications is that they cause an immense disregulation in how each one effects neurochemical processes. I could write pages on the nuts and bolts of it all....but it's only fascinating to psych. nerds like myself!

Please consider reading "The anatomy of an epidemic." It's a great, not technical, look at the history of psych meds, the effects and the politics. If you are in the place of getting/staying off the meds it will bolster your will. If you are in the place of considering these meds you will turn and run....and I say this as a professional in the mental health field!

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