Sunday, January 5, 2014

Sugar and depression?

Lately I've been thinking a lot about diet and its effect on my depression.  I've been on meds for over three years now but have yet to achieve a stable, maintenance regiment.  Seems impossible, no?  On the one hand, my new psychiatrist tells me that some people are treatment resistant...I'm not there yet, as she has a few remaining tricks up her sleeve, but the mere thought of treatment resistance makes me want to - well, crawl under the covers.  On the other hand, as I do more research, I'm learning a lot about diet, specifically sugar, and its role in mood.  I cook the vast majority of our meals, and we generally eat a very healthy diet.  At meals.  It's the clandestine visits to the pantry that get me in trouble.  A handful of wheat thins?  Sounds perfect.  Perhaps a few chocolate chips?  And then a few more?  Lovely. the end of the day, how are all of these jumps and dips in my blood sugar affecting my depression?  I don't know...but I suspect there's more of a link than I'd care to admit.

A friend recommended the book "Chemistry of Joy".  If the Amazon reviews are to be believed, the author does an excellent job of merging Western and Eastern approaches to the treatment of depression.  Diet is one of the biggest elements.  I was excited to receive the book (ordered it used - maybe it would come with some good chi?).  And yet it has sat next to my bed for a few weeks because it's one of those "meaty" books that I want to read when I can really focus, and maybe even take notes on.  But let's be realistic - who wants to take notes during their leisure reading time?  So the secret to my mental health may be right there under a layer of dust while I wait until I'm 80 and have the time to process it fully. 

And of course I admit there's some resistance to acknowledging the full role that diet may play in my depression.  I already take so much ownership for my lack of mental health, and have such a far-reaching sense of guilt, that do I really want to add the pressure of "Just eat better and you'll feel better"?  Not really.  Plus, even more scary, what if I tried something as ludicrous as a sugar-free diet, and I felt transformed, and...would that really be feasible in my everyday life, with my enjoyment of food, and cooking, and baking?  "Good news, doc - the depression is gone but now in its place I've developed an eating disorder.  Does that count as progress?"  Clearly these are subtleties that would have to be worked out.

Time to finish off that Ghirardelli square and save the sugar analysis for another day.

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