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Anybody have issues with protein foods actually CAUSING depression?

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So i've had this issue for awhile now, where protein-rich foods worsen my depression, especially when eaten alone (without any carb/veggie source).

For instance, this morning I woke up feeling pretty well.  Good mood, good energy, optimistic.  I cook up 3 large eggs in coconut oil, and eat the eggs alone.  Within about 10 minutes, I start taking the plunge.  I hit suicidal depression, tears welling up, and this takes about 4 hours to start leveling back out, at least today.  This is accompanied by sweats, seemingly brought on by adrenaline rushes (my guess, at least.)


After 1 full cup of oats (about 55g of carbs) along with some vitamin b-6 and my daily dose of 50mg Lamictal, I'm feeling a bit better now, at least well enough to type up this post!

If it's of any importance, I also suffer from adrenal fatigue issues.

I seem to have the same effect from beef, chicken, and nuts, especially when eaten alone.  Amino acids also worsen my depression I've found: tyrosine, and phenylalanine, and possibly others. 

Even when mixed with carbs, protein-rich foods still seem to have a negative effect.  For some odd reason, I seem more tolerable of them towards evening.  Maybe this has something to do with my adrenal issues (which usually cause low cortisol in the a.m., and high levels at night?)  I dunno, a lot of guesswork here without having insurance to schedule doctor visits.  =/


From what I've read, protein competes with tryptophan, preventing serotonin from entering the brain.  Perhaps protein-only meals are pushing my serotonin levels way down?

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I'm not sure that protein intake can immediately cause serotonin levels to plummet (although, I'm not an expert on the subject). Could it be LDL cholesterol? Mostly what you've mentioned has a lot of animal cholesterol in it (besides nuts). Oats have a good amount of iron and protein in them, although not as much as meat and eggs, obviously. Three large eggs would amount to double the maximum amount of cholesterol "recommended" for daily intake. A good way to figure out how diet affects your mood is to create a food plan and eliminate/add different foods and monitor your reaction. You could have an intolerance/sensitivity to the things you're eating that happen to be high in protein. I know I have a friend who has food allergies and she knows her food has been contaminated or come into contact with allergens because she has terrible mood swings and a general feeling of being unwell/unstable within 30 minutes of ingesting the food item. In general it's always a good idea to eat a varied meal - protein, veggies, whole grains, natural sugars. 

Edited by radicalfeminist
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How was your adrenal fatigue diagnosed? I have experienced several bouts of exogenous adrenal insufficiency after prolonged glucocorticoids therapy. I recognize the signs and symptoms and understand what action needs to be taken.


There are dozens of sites on the WWW that speak about adrenal fatigue and most recommend a diet of frequent small meals each consisting of fat, protein and complex carbohydrates. A well-balanced diet keeps blood glucose stable and prevents insulin highs and lows. In maintaining blood sugar levels stable, the adrenals (and the pituitary) are better able to function.


However, after having read your intro, anything I can say will undoubtedly be of little use.

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You know, you might want to consider that the timing of when you take your Lamictal might be the real problem. I know there are people here that feel TERRIBLE if they miss their Lamictal by 30 minutes. From the example you gave, I'd suspect needing to take your Lamictal a little earlier might help rather than protein causing depression. I'm not a professional. Everyone's body is different. If you find something that works for you then stick with it. I'd keep a mood/food/med chart and see if there is really a pattern.

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I'm taking a nutrition class this term, and it seems unlikely that you could actually be absorbing any protein with in 10 minutes.


There is no protein breakdown in the mouth or the stomach. Hydrochloric acid opens up the proteins so another enzyme, protease can start "hydrolysing" the proteins and breaking them apart into amino acids.


You don't actually absorb any protein until it gets to the small intestine, which takes about two hours.

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  • 3 months later...

I've found having a protein rich diet helps keep me energetic and in a more active state rather than being lethargic and inert.  Eating a balanced diet with a reasonable amount of all macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates, and fats) and a variety of foods of has given me some relief.  I try not to have too much of any one thing.  

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