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Will the Paleolithic Diet Help Anxiety and Depression?

Yes, indeed the Paleolithic diet will help anxiety and depression, as your food choices have a profound impact on your mental and physical health. We explore this topic further by answering the following question from a site visitor.

I am on psych meds because I have had a problem for 10 years with anxiety and depression. This caused me to have me life fall apart—divorce, loss of job etc. None of this has helped. I think it is related to diet and I want to go on the paleo diet. My question—when this all started I was drinking a huge amount of coffee each day. How bad is coffee for you? I still am drinking it but I am trying to cut back. I also feel worse when I have alcohol, even one beer. The next day the anxiety is worse. I want to really go on the paleo diet and kick the coffee habit. I have know idea if I have candida but I say no. I have no other symptoms other than the mental health battle.

  1. So, how bad is drinking coffee?
  2. Will the paleo diet be of help?
  3. Is it possible that diet, drinking coffee and alcohol all could be a big part of the problem.

Thanks Tom

Hi Tom,

Yes, absolutely, the diet, coffee and alcohol can be the sole underlying cause of the problem. Anxiety and depression are caused by a disruption or depletion of neurotransmitters in the brain that regulate our moods and autonomic nervous system.

Coffee, alcohol, sugar and other junk food disrupt and then deplete these neurotransmitters. They temporarily give you a boost in these neurotransmitters, which is why everyone feels that heightened sense of energy or mood when these substances are consumed, but then later as the substance is processed the neurotransmitters then come crashing down.

When this process is repeated over and over, it eventually leads to depletion of the neurotransmitters, and thus why cravings for coffee, alcohol, sugar or other addictive substances ensue. The brain now needs the alcohol, coffee or sugar in order to function properly and keep feelings of depression and anxiety at bay.

Additionally, this same process occurs in our autonomic nervous system. Norepinephrine is triggered when we consume these substances which triggers our stress response system. For a while we are in a heightened state and then later we crash. Initially this process results in high levels of cortisol, and then as this process continues over time, it leads to depletion of cortisol.

Psychiatric medication perpetuates the cycle of anxiety and depression and results in addiction, because they too disrupt then deplete neurotransmitters.  You can read more about that on my Why Antidepressants are Ineffective page.

So, in response to your first question, coffee is very bad. It is one the worse substances you can consume when trying to overcome anxiety and depression. You can read more about coffee on my page, health effects of caffeine page.

Yes, the Paleo diet will be of significant help. Some people can completely overcome their anxiety and depression with changes in their diet alone. I did and I share everything you need to know in my book, What Your Psychologist Hasn’t Told You About Anxiety and Depression.

Alternatively, you can find an overview of everything on the following pages:

Causes of Anxiety

Tracking Down the Symptoms of Anxiety

Physiological Causes of Anxiety

Causes of Depression

Literally, my anxiety and depression disappeared almost over night by removing alcohol, sugar, caffeine and nicotine. Not only that, I also overcome addiction to alcohol, drugs, sugar and carbs with these changes in diet.  I have 23 years of craving-free sobriety.

Nicotine must be avoided as well, as it does the same thing to neurotransmitters in the brain as alcohol, coffee and sugar.

Although it doesn’t sound like alcholism is a factor, you can find a lot of information about the impact of alcohol on neurotransmitters at my other site for alcoholism, here’s one page on Alcoholism and Depression.

There are other things that can contribute to anxiety and depression too like nutritional deficiencies, Candida overgrowth, environmental toxins, chronic stress, hormone imbalances, adrenal fatigue however, the diet is the foundation on which everything else is built. If the diet is changed, then long-term improvement will not be achieved.

The Paleolithic diet removes all substances that disrupt neurotransmitters, the autonomic nervous system, hormones, insulin and blood sugar. It also helps replenish the nutrients needed for the brain to start producing neurotransmitters on its own.

So not only will it help alleviate anxiety and depression, but it also normalizes weight, prevents or reverses insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes and obesity, cancer and protects you from most of the degenerative health conditions that plague our society today, because it is the diet that you are genetically designed to eat.

{ 2 comments… add one }

  • Sia December 21, 2012, 9:52 pm

    I was diagnosed with Type II Diabetes a month ago. I’ve noticed that the Paleo Diet has normalized my numbers and improved my depression & anxiety. I’m proof of it! Happy & Healthy in 2013! :D

  • Christina Heggins December 15, 2014, 8:50 am

    Since I’ve rid my diet of grains, and incorporated more veggies and healthy fats, I’ve felt my chronic depression and anxiety subside.

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