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View Full Version : Depression, sleep, diet, world domination, etc.


Jesse Woody
03-20-2007, 09:49 AM
OK, so some background; I've bounced back and forth between Zone, CLC and "low-carb by the seat of my pants + post-workout carb-spike." All have worked well in the sense that I find them relatively easy to implement and haven't noticed performance decreases one way or the other. After weighing and measuring, I found the Zone super-easy, and I still think of food in the term of blocks whatever method I'm employing, which makes all of the others almost too easy.

The question lies here; I suffer from some pretty severe mood-swings, and with both my mom and sister diagnosed with bipolar disorder it seems to point towards a similar straits for myself. Not being a huge fan of drugs (took myself off of welbutrin at age 12) I have begun to research alternate routes. I read back over the chapter about mental disorders in "Lights Out!" and have recently ordered "Beyond Prozac" to figure this thing out, but the gist seems to be that regulating hormone levels is very important in steady brain chemistry. Of course, "Light's Out!" suggests seasonal low-carb, which can work with seasonal workouts. If I choose to go with a more constant work-load I wonder if CLC/post-workout spike or Zone would be more beneficial. Anybody have any experience with this?

It hit me in the head after this last bout of acting like an asshole that combining my injury (hard to keep positive with this alone) with pain medication, lack of sleep, reduced exercise and a steadily crappier diet by the day (attempting to gain mass, i.e. not so low carb) that all of this seems to make sense in the insulin/glucagon/seratonin/dopamine sense. If it takes seasonal workouts to fix it, it's better than ruining hoards of personal relationships, but off the top of my head the Zone seems to offer some benefits in the consistency of the prescription, i.e. regulated insulin levels over the long-term without any noticeable peaks or valleys.

Anyway, any help would be much appreciated.

Mike ODonnell
03-20-2007, 10:20 AM
#1 - I would say any diet higher in fat (vs carbs) would be beneficial to someone with mood swings issues.

#2 - I would look into DHA supplementation (the other half of omega 3s in Fish Oil) as fish oil is mostly EPA and less DHA....where you may find better results with higher DHA

#3 - I've found light or IF mornings to be more to enhance my mood as a big breakfast puts me into a brain fog

#4 - I'd personally put my vote in for low carb and pwo meals...

All this is of course something you have to tinker and play with.....now where did I put my copy of the Warrior Diet??

Dave Van Skike
03-20-2007, 10:21 AM
Jesse,

First the disclaimer, I'm not being glib here at all. I'm very serious. I would not fuck around with brain chemistry issues on your own. Clearly, you have a far above average ability to gauge your body's response to stimulus...drugs, food, increased rest, decreased rest. etc.

I would say, spend the energy you were going to put into figuring this out and start an exhausitive process of screening and interviewing experts, doctors, pyschologists, naturopaths or whomever to assist you in figuring this out.

PM me if you talk offline.

Yael Grauer
03-20-2007, 10:47 AM
I'd get beat up around here for mentioning homeopathy so will post a link instead. I'm pretty sure homeopathic lithium orotate has a money-back guarantee.

http://www.henriettesherbal.com/archives/best/1994/depression2.html

I've also heard good things about "Stabilium 200" which is some kind of blue fish oil that was used by warriors hundreds of years ago when they were depressed after returning from battle. It's got some good research for fatigue, concentration, etc. but there's anecdotal evidence for other uses. http://www.springboard4health.com/notebook/health_chronic_fatigue.html

Worth a try?

(Insert requisite "see a doc and take whatever drugs they give you" disclaimer here.)

Robb Wolf
03-20-2007, 10:54 AM
Probably good advice on Dav's part. MOD hit some goodies too. All I'd add is gaining weight is a pain in the ass. Time, money. Perhaps just chase performance? I've been doing a 16 block Zone gig (5xfat) but with most of the carbs, ~8-10 blocks, post WO. Pretty similar to Berardis recommendation but like you I use blocks for the accounting. i bumped things up to 18 and then 20 blocks. Strength is going up....but I'm not feeling as good. Shocker!

Back to what Dave said...some outside help might be good...one thing that seems clear is a NORMALIZED sleep pattern is very important:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=11893871

bipolar/mania has been treated with sleep deprivation oddly enough with some success in the short term however other health complications present eventually.
Take care Amigo! Call or email anytime.

Jesse Woody
03-20-2007, 11:04 AM
Thanks for the help. The only downside I find with the "find a doctor" path is twofold; 1. I spent quite a bit of time as a kid running from one therapist to the next, and as far as I can tell the only noticeable change came from various prescriptions (keep in mind...these weren't necessarily good changes, just noticeable.) I find it hard to take doctors that aren't fixing something physical seriously, though the naturopathic route might offer some hope there. 2. I have a tendency to max out my medical expense budget on various injuries...so that leaves little for gambling on the possibility of finding a good doctor. Luckily this last surgery has maxed out my deductible for the year (again...but new insurance) so if I can find a way to get a referral (damn you HMO's!) I might be able to make it work!

Robb, no doubt the sleep in mega-important, and it's the first big piece of the picture I'm taking care of. I'm trying to find some dark curtains (as I just moved from the country to the city and even the best blinds can't keep out that much light!) and have been trying ZMA to attempt to increase the quality of what sleep I can get. The problem there is that during the best of times 7-8 hours is an occasional possibility....everybody here knows how hard it is to implement the 9 hour plan with wife/job/kids.

Yael, good stuff. I've had some luck in the past from homeopathic remedies (for poison ivy...works like magic!) so I'll check it out!

Mike ODonnell
03-20-2007, 11:19 AM
Jesse,

I'd look into the whole EPA/DHA and depression/bipolar connection...I am sure there are alot of studies...also I would ask 2 things:

#1) What is your current level of fish oil
#2) What is your Overall level of fats and where do they come from

While Fish oil is important...it's only 1/2 of the equation...as if you do not get your AA (omega 6s) under control then fish oil may have little to no effect what so ever. Just thinking out loud.

Jesse Woody
03-20-2007, 11:33 AM
At the moment I take between 9 and 12g of fish oil (capsule form, so 9-12 caps) a day. With the average fish oil cap that I take, that gives me around 2g of EPA and 1.5g of DHA per-day. Fat intake is quite high. In Zone ratios it varies between 2 and 5x at each meal, mostly from added monounsaturated fat. Though it's not a great representation of where I am now (i.e. 16 block Zone strict w/2-5x fat) this link to my fitday page will give you an idea of the fat content of my diet:

http://fitday.com/WebFit/PublicJournals.html?Owner=gearsighted

The last time I was keeping track was during my mass phase, i.e. 4000-5000kcal, ~250-300g CHO/day, but the fat-content is relatively representative of an average day, such that 50-60% of daily calories is pretty regular for me. I'm not sure if it shows on my public profile, but the breakdown of fats looks to be around 45% mono, 30% saturated, 25% poly.

Mike ODonnell
03-20-2007, 12:25 PM
From what I can see real quick:

- Your majority of Poly is sunflower seeds which are high in omega 6 http://www.nutritiondata.com/facts-C00001-01c20p5.html

- 2g of EPA/DHA is below the minimal 3g/day Dr Sears recommends for normal people.....then it goes up...inflammation is more 6g/day.....neurological disorders rangs in the 10+g/day (might want to pick up The Inflammation Zone)

So what I see quickly is a strong imbalance of omega 6 to 3s, and you need to prob do the opposite of increasing Omega 3s and decreasing 6s....otherwise that 2g of EPA/DHA a day is probably having little to no effect in reversing any inflammation and improving mood and function.
http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?tool=pmcentrez&artid=549076

Not too even mention the amount of AA that is inside your hot dogs and other high fatty meat....it's loaded with it...plus nitrates.....unless you are doing Grass Fed.....another huge imbalance for increased inflammation....

Jesse Woody
03-20-2007, 12:38 PM
...and that's why I posted here. Thanks Mike, I knew I had missed something. I'll update as I tweak these discrepancies a bit and will update the fitday postings with the changes. You guys rock!

I also just got an email from the grass-fed meat and raw dairy group in DC from a naturopathic therapist who will be giving cooking classes related to various subjects...weird timing ;)

Mike ODonnell
03-20-2007, 01:00 PM
Good deal....I'd still suggest reading the Inflammation Zone (or also Inflammation Nation, both good...prob can find at the local library)....lots of good information on the hidden sources of inflammation, or AA as the main culprit...mostly in the fatty parts of meats and eggs of grain fed animals. That and the levels of fish oil suggested for people with serious issues is alot higher than anyone ever comes close to. You can also throw in some tumeric and ginger, both known for anti-inflammatory. Let us know how it goes.

Cassi_Nesmith
03-20-2007, 01:09 PM
Please do what you can to get medical help. If you do have bipolar illness it will probably escalate until you are either so manic you ruin your credit, relationships and life or so depressed you will try to kill yourself. Fish oil is a good start, a consistent sleep schedule is also great, but you've got to do more if you truly want to be healthy.

Drugs, like Lithium Carbonate, are pretty "natural" even though it's a prescription, it's also pretty darn cheap, even if you don't have insurance. And a brain disorder IS something physical, even though it doesn't feel like it.

Jesse Woody
03-20-2007, 01:24 PM
Please do what you can to get medical help. If you do have bipolar illness it will probably escalate until you are either so manic you ruin your credit, relationships and life or so depressed you will try to kill yourself. Fish oil is a good start, a consistent sleep schedule is also great, but you've got to do more if you truly want to be healthy.

Drugs, like Lithium Carbonate, are pretty "natural" even though it's a prescription, it's also pretty darn cheap, even if you don't have insurance. And a brain disorder IS something physical, even though it doesn't feel like it.

Thanks Cassi, trust me that I know the consequences (your list sounds like a check-list of the last few years) and I realize the nature of brain disorders. This is truly the first time I've made a concerted effort to do anything other than self-medicate, such that I switched from adrenaline sports to drugs and alcohol and then to fitness and physicality. I want to give it a good go by attempting to give my body a chance to work right first...then if that doesn't take I'll start to look into the other options. If I went there first I'd feel like I was copping out, as there's a pill for everything under the sun even though the majority of people's problems can be relieved by returning to a semi-natural state of affairs. I'll update soon.

Steve Liberati
03-20-2007, 01:36 PM
In addition to what was already said, I'll throw meditation in the mix as well. Everything we do (CrossFit, Parkour, high intensity, sports, O-Lifting, caffeine, wife, kids, job etc etc) is geared toward speeding up the our physical and mental process. Sometimes not enough time is spent relaxing and enjoying life itself. Of course this is not the answer to something that stems much deeper that just being in a bad mood but perhaps a few days a week just "chilling out" might do you some good. Sadly, most of the time it takes a major event (usually an unfortunate one) for the reminder to pop up in my head telling me to "stop and smell the roses." I'm sure our ancestors can teach us a few things about modern day depression and sleep deprivation as well. They didn't try to complicate thier lifes much more than it already was, much unlike most of us today who carry way too much on their plates.

Try designating at least an hr a day either meditating, reading a book, talking a walk around the neighborhood with wife/kids, or just gibber jabbering in a circle in your house or if its nice outside, at the local park.

Just some food for thought....

Ps Enjoy reading your articles in the CrossFit Journal. Good stuff!

Dave Van Skike
03-20-2007, 02:18 PM
Timing...

Sleep.....Mmmmmm Sleeping.

http://scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?articleid=708AAAE6-E7F2-99DF-35D643E46E5A831D

Greg Davis
03-20-2007, 03:31 PM
Jesse- I can relate to what youre saying here and can offer some advice from personal experience.

One thing I've realized after being out of college for a while now is that binge drinking is a terrible agitator of bipolar states & messes up hormones so I try to avoid alcohol. But thats fairly obvious.

The other stuff relates to diet but not just what you are eating, actually how you are eating. For example these help in terms of consistent energy levels:
a) try keep caffeine drinks confined to the AM (especially espresso!)
b) have your last meal well before going to bed (3-4 hours)
c) avoid that feeling over being really full- i find once i start on a food binge theres no stopping and ill keep overeating which probably has a similar effect to eating a high carb meal

Another thing that works for me is to accept that there will be highs and lows. By that I mean when I'm feeling really good I'll take advantage by doing whatever I need to get done that week. And then when I feel lacklustre (sometimes depressed) I won't fight it... just take it easy by getting some extra sleep, watching a movie (something I rarely do is watch television- might as well save it for when you don't have the energy to do anything else).

Hope that helps..

Steve Liberati
03-20-2007, 03:38 PM
No doubt adequate sleep is critical for sound mind and body, but does anyone else get super tired during the day on 10 hours of sleep or more?
8 hours seems more practical (at least for me). 10 hours and I'm dead man walking.

Mike ODonnell
03-20-2007, 05:11 PM
Outside of physical things....the mind is a great muscle and needs exercise too....most people are usually depressed due to not having some of the following in their life:
- specific short term and long term goals
- positive outlook on everything that happens around them
- positive role models
- inspirational reading that brings out excitement and thoughts of mental fortitude
- time alone to really sit back in quiet and see where their life is going
- feel like there is a greater purpose in what your are supposed to do

etc....I say find some good books on positive thinking, have a list of positive affirmations on what you will do today, and start the day that way....most people's day are a direct results of their actions, their actions are a direct result of their attitude, and their attitude is a direct result of their overal mental outlook for the day....so start the day off right, get excited about something...accomplish things and then start the next day the same. It's usually when we are running around just with the flow of life and bombarded by negative images and energies from others that we react more than act upon what is best for our own happiness.

Yael Grauer
03-20-2007, 05:34 PM
The problem is that once you get in that negative mindset, it's hard to separate yourself out from it and see it as a passing phase even when it's clear as day that it is once you get out of the funk... You don't even realize it is happening. I guess that's why it's good to have a support system of people to talk to. For me just about any event can be terribly depressing and spiral down into darkness (to the point where I don't even want to talk about it because what would be the point), or with a slightly different mindset I can spiral up with my thought chain towards the light. The trick is to realize what's going on when it's happening.

Robb Wolf
03-23-2007, 06:50 AM
The problem is that once you get in that negative mindset, it's hard to separate yourself out from it and see it as a passing phase even when it's clear as day that it is once you get out of the funk... You don't even realize it is happening. I guess that's why it's good to have a support system of people to talk to. For me just about any event can be terribly depressing and spiral down into darkness (to the point where I don't even want to talk about it because what would be the point), or with a slightly different mindset I can spiral up with my thought chain towards the light. The trick is to realize what's going on when it's happening.

I've found that an evening spent watching "Family Guy" can both halt the downward spiral AND catapult the upward spiral. Has anyone seen two droids...

kevin mckay
03-23-2007, 10:26 AM
I have had similar issues and have similar family history mother is obese has mood swings brother is a recovering alcoholic and if I go off the "program" I get moody and fat really fast, one common thread is brain serotonin.

I have the most stable mood and health I have ever had by constantly eating paleo, 12-6 IF, no drinking, no drugs, regular exercise, and keeping carb levels very consistent.

Probably all stuff you already know but wanted to put it out there.

Mike ODonnell
03-23-2007, 10:29 AM
Droids? You talking about the "Grind my Gears"?...anyways....I agree Family Guy
http://youtube.com/watch?v=areyUfCNFxY

As for the mind...it's a powerful weapon...learn to master it and you can do anything...but like anything you master...it takes daily practice...it's just doesnt happen overnight...people work on their attitudes every day...do what it takes to get where they want to be.....

Frank Needham
03-23-2007, 05:35 PM
Jesse, have you given consideration to the fact that your schedule runs from early morning to evening each day (from what you say in another thread)? If you are having these difficulties wouldn't it be worth considering backing off a bit and slowing things way down?

Jesse Woody
03-24-2007, 04:28 AM
As nice as that would be, it would mean shutting down the gym that I just opened. The best of days have me heading home around 7pm (when Mark is at the gym to finish the advanced Parkour class) but finishing the evening trying to get food for myself and the kids, pack up for the next day, and grab a shower occasionally. There might come a time in the next year or so where the gym is sustainable enough to leave for some bit of time, but we just opened in January, so we're not there yet ;)

I have to second the Family Guy sentiment, as I spend any extra time I have at the gym watching clips on youtube :p

I appreciate the thoughts on positive thinking, goals, etc. The problem lies in the fact that I've gone that route specifically for quite some time, and without a good foundation (i.e. semi-stable brain chemistry) it's almost more of a downer when I get hit with depression and scrap everything, then get manic and change every single plan, writing manifestos on my new schedule and working everything out for the next two months to the letter...only to go through the cycle again and toss it all in those moments where I couldn't care less. I'm hoping that I can take care of the underlying transient chemical and hormonal state, then graft my understanding of goals, planning and positive attitude on top of something more solid!