Followup to anxiety question, diet and depression

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Preston Crawfor

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This is going to be a repost of something I posted elsewhere, so please bear with me, but I figured
it was worth asking people here. I apologize for doing this, but I value the opinions of those here.
Once again, those familiar with my anxiety issues on my California trip or my questions about heart
rate, dehydration and all the other times I've felt odd and not known why will recognize some of
what I'm talking about here.

------------------------------------------------------

I have a strange problem. Hopefully someone can shed some light on this. I've had problems with
anxiety off and on for the last few years. It's been much worse, though, since I became a
vegetarian. Often the anxiety is related to my health as I've gone from 400lbs to 250lbs in 1.5years
on a vegetarian diet. Recently it resulted in some major anxiety and insomnia. I'm started to get
treated for clinical anxiety, but before I go too far down that path (i.e. before I take the Paxil,
etc.) I have an important question to ask. Ever since I started losing the weight I've had these
anxiety problems, felt a little off. In fact, I've probably felt worse (emotionally, mental acuity,
sleep quality) since becoming a vegetarian. I've never given it much thought, though, and assumed it
was probably just my sleep apnea. I recently got some blood work done, however, that's caused me to
think about a possibility. I'm not saying this is what's happening, but the test was abnormal in
that I had so-so B12, but REALLY high Folic Acid. On the lab report 3 or more (3 of what I can't
remember) was considered normal, but my rating was 21. So I started researching and discovered that
high folic acid can sometimes mask B12 deficiency. So my questions are as follows.

#1 - Is it possible that my numbers of B12 on a standard blood count test
could show up sort of normal, but I could still be B12 deficient?

#2 - If this is possible, what's a reliable test to do to check actual B12
count?

#3 - Since B12 deficiency can cause weight loss is it possible that some
of this weight loss was because of B12 deficiency?

Please don't respond with a reply about how nothing is wrong with a vegetarian diet, because I know
it can happen to people. I'm not saying it happened to me, but before I start letting a
psychiatrist toy with my mind, I'd like to rule this out. Since I take Prilosec (a drug that can
cause B12 deficiency or absorbtion problems) and since I have this high folic acid reading it's
possible it seems.

Any help or advice is appreciated.

Preston
 
B

Buck

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"Preston Crawford" <[email protected]> wrote in message <snip>
> Please don't respond with a reply about how nothing is wrong with a vegetarian diet, because I
> know it can happen to people. I'm not saying it happened to me, but before I start letting a
> psychiatrist toy with my mind, I'd like to rule this out. Since I take Prilosec (a drug that can
> cause B12 deficiency or absorbtion problems) and since I have this high folic acid reading it's
> possible it seems.

I can't speak to any specific deficiency because I never had my blood tested, but I can speak to my
general health as a former vegetarian. First of all, I went vegetarian for all the wrong reasons and
yes, a girl was involved. Over the long haul, I discovered how difficult it is to be a vegetarian
and maintain a proper diet.

After I made the switch, my health started to decline. While I had always suffered from slight
allergy problems, I decended into allergy hell once I made the switch. I didn't realize it at the
time, of course, but I found that I needed allergy medications much more often to get me through the
day. During the two years I was a vegetarian, I developed severe bronchitis every fall which turned
into walking pneumonia the first time around because I didn't get medical attention in a timely
manner. The worst part was my dog. I always had dogs while growing up but suddenly found myself
allergic to them. I had to kick my buddy out of the house. The allergy problems were partly
attributable to the building I was working in - mold would build up in the a/c system during the
summer due to poor moisture management, then dry out and flake off when they switched over to the
heater in the fall. This was the worst time of the year for me.

I also discovered that I had low energy, felt lethargic and sick all the time. I had trouble
sleeping at night and would often find myself just starting at the wall at 2:00AM. I couldn't get
motivated to exercise at all. Despite being within easy commuting distance, my bike stayed parked
all the time. I was a sad sight.

The girl dumped me and I ate a burger just to spite her. I was amazed how much better I felt the
next day. I was emotionally wracked for a long time, but my health started improving as I scrabbled
my way back from being a vegetarian. That fall, I had no respiratory problems despite working in the
same building. Most of my allergies have completely disappeared now, but I still can't let the dog
lick my hand without getting all itchy. I still have a little trouble with mold, but all of the
other airborne allergens don't bother me at all.

Going vegetarian is a delicate business. If you aren't EXTREMELY aware of your dietary needs and
focus on meeting those needs daily, you will find yourself deficient in something. A deficient diet
can result in chemical imbalances in your body that may lead to other problems. I know it did for
me. Switching back has made me much healthier and my diet is no longer the focus of my life. It's
surprising how much effort I had to put forth just to maintain a vegetarian lifestyle. Despite
these efforts, I still couldn't keep myself healthy.

If you went vegetarian for moral reasons, then stick with it and watch your diet carefully. If you
went vegetarian to lose weight, you might consider the occasional piece of meat to get a more
balanced diet. Sure, some people will tell you that it isn't necessary and you can maintain your
diet through supplements. But it didn't work so well for me. Now that I eat red meat once or twice a
week and fish or chicken almost daily, I am much healthier than I was as a vegetarian.

To help with your sleep, try taking a class on meditation. This will also help control the anxiety.
Recognize that many mental problems are the result of chemical imbalances in your body that are
partly genetic, partly diet. That's why many neuroses run in families. Do what you need to do to get
healthy. Oh yeah, don't forget to keep cycling!

Good luck to you, Buck
 
J

Jym Dyer

Guest
=v= ObDisclaimer: I am not a doctor, dietitian, psychologist, or psychiatrist. I'm just a bicyclist
posting to a newsgroup.

=v= One does get less B12 on a vegetarian diet, and even less on a vegan diet, but the body actually
needs very little B12, and can store it for years. B12 deficiency is a very serious matter
(pernicious anemia), but it's extremely rare and not correlated to diet. I believe it's usually the
result of some congenital, physical, or chemical condition that limits absorbtion, but let me stress
again that this is very rare.

=v= Diet can certainly have an effect on mood, sometimes via a vitamin or mineral deficiency, but
more often due to an excess of foods with a high glycemic index, which send your endocrine system on
a rollercoaster ride. These are simple carbohydrate foods (e.g. refined sugar and white flour) or
complex carbs that break down quickly.

=v= A diet high in these foods, vegetarian or not, can have powerful effects on one's emotions. It
couldn't hurt to eliminate them from your diet and see what happens. Resources for diabetics and
hypoglycemics may be of use, such as this:

http://www.glycemicindex.com/

=v= There are fad diets out there, oversimplying the above to argue that "all carbs are bad" and
offering ketosis-inducing high-protein alternatives. I'd recommend looking further for
nutritional advice.

=v= As for the psychologist/psychiatrist thing, I only have anecdotal evidence. Folks I know who've
had panic attacks have chosen not to use psychopharmaceuticals. Those with the more serious anxiety
attacks are now using them, though. (FWIW, most of these friends are omnivores, one is a vegetarian
who occasionaly eats fish, and none are vegans.)

=v= It's been suggested that you bike more and enjoy the mood- elevating endorphin-producing
benefits of exercise. This works for me when I'm depressed. If it doesn't work for you, there may be
something chemical blocking the way. <_Jym_
 
P

Preston Crawfor

Guest
"Jym Dyer" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...
> =v= A diet high in these foods, vegetarian or not, can have powerful effects on one's emotions. It
> couldn't hurt to eliminate them from your diet and see what happens. Resources for diabetics and
> hypoglycemics may be of use, such as this:
>
> http://www.glycemicindex.com/

I generally follow this, actually. I usually it sprouted or cracked wheat. I eat brown rice and I
try to stay away from sugar, pop, etc. Although I have been drinking more root beer (1 every other
day) and been less active the last 6 months.

> =v= It's been suggested that you bike more and enjoy the mood- elevating endorphin-producing
> benefits of exercise. This works for me when I'm depressed. If it doesn't work for you, there may
> be something chemical blocking the way.

That's part of the problem. A lot of my anxiety in the past, was health related brought on by how
I'd feel when I'd exercise. So I'm not sure if that's purely the answer either.

Preston
 
F

Frank Miles

Guest
In article <[email protected]>, Preston Crawford
<[email protected]> wrote:
>This is going to be a repost of something I posted elsewhere, so please bear with me, but I figured
>it was worth asking people here. I apologize for doing this, but I value the opinions of those
>here. Once again, those familiar with my anxiety issues on my California trip or my questions about
>heart rate, dehydration and all the other times I've felt odd and not known why will recognize some
>of what I'm talking about here.
>
>------------------------------------------------------
>
>I have a strange problem. Hopefully someone can shed some light on this. I've had problems with
>anxiety off and on for the last few years. It's been much worse, though, since I became a
>vegetarian. Often the anxiety is related to my health as I've gone from 400lbs to 250lbs in
>1.5years on a vegetarian diet. Recently it resulted in some major anxiety and insomnia. I'm started
>to get treated for clinical anxiety, but before I go too far down that path (i.e. before I take the
>Paxil, etc.) I have an important question to ask. Ever since I started losing the weight I've had
>these anxiety problems, felt a little off. In fact, I've probably felt worse (emotionally, mental
>acuity, sleep quality) since becoming a vegetarian. I've never given it much thought, though, and
>assumed it was probably just my sleep apnea. I recently got some blood work done, however, that's
>caused me to think about a possibility. I'm not saying this is what's happening, but the test was
>abnormal in that I had so-so B12, but REALLY high Folic Acid. On the lab report 3 or more (3 of
>what I can't remember) was considered normal, but my rating was 21. So I started researching and
>discovered that high folic acid can sometimes mask B12 deficiency. So my questions are as follows.
>
>#1 - Is it possible that my numbers of B12 on a standard blood count test
>could show up sort of normal, but I could still be B12 deficient?

I'm not a nutritionist, and probably most other respondents won't be, either. You should get trained
guidance. OK? It has been said that it is possible with some of the B vitamins to mask by
imbalances, but I don't really know if this is an issue with B12.

It would certainly be easy enough to supplement your B12 to test whether B12 insufficiency might be
a problem. I don't know, and cannot advise you on potential absorption efficiency or toxicity
problems. Again, get competent advice.

[snip]

>#3 - Since B12 deficiency can cause weight loss is it possible that some
>of this weight loss was because of B12 deficiency?

It's certainly possible that the magnitude of weight loss (generally requiring significantly lower
caloric intake relative to outflow) can foster a variety of mental symptoms. I've never heard of B12
deficiency as a way to reduce weight -- that seems counterproductive, as the only person I know of
with bona fide B12 deficiency could not expend energy due to problems that this deficiency created.

>Please don't respond with a reply about how nothing is wrong with a vegetarian diet, because I know
>it can happen to people. I'm not saying it happened to me, but before I start letting a
>psychiatrist toy with my mind, I'd like to rule this out. Since I take Prilosec (a drug that can
>cause B12 deficiency or absorbtion problems) and since I have this high folic acid reading it's
>possible it seems.

Millions of people around the world are vegetarian, or if nearly so -- make that billions) without
your symptoms. Having been vegetarian for over 30 years, and doing advanced graduate work and being
reasonably active during this time, I can personally attest to this. I'm careful about what I eat,
though mostly this is simply a matter of avoiding junk food. I do use a yeast-based supplement to
ensure that I get enough B12.

Your story may be different. Only trained medical professionals can do the kind of tests that may be
necessary to determine what's going on with your particular body. We are all a little bit different.

It makes sense to avoid drugs whenever possible, some of them can have nasty side effects even when
they work. On the other hand it might be worth trying a medication as an experiment. You aren't
compelled to continue on it if it doesn't work for you. The latest studies that I've seen (for
example, studing the effects of long-term antidepressants) show mostly positive effects.

I don't know anything about Prilosec, but if you think it isn't working for you, maybe you could
convince your doctor to prescribe a different medication with the similar benefits but
(different/hopefully lesser) side-effects.

>Any help or advice is appreciated.
>
>Preston

Good luck!

-frank
--
 
B

Billchin

Guest
This is way off topic, but I found a self-help group useful in dealing with my anxiety and
depression. If you are interested in giving this a try follow the links to find a local meeting:

http://www.recovery-inc.org/

The Recovery Method is not a silver bullet--it is not for everyone. However, it has helped me a
great deal. Recovery is not a 12-step program, nor is it faith-based. One way to describe it, is to
retrain the brain into new habits, new ways of thinking and acting. Some might categorize it as
Cognitive therapy. The Recovery method has helped many people with severe symptoms, where virtually
all else failed. It is also useful for those with milder symptoms of anxiety.
+ Bill
 
M

Mike Kruger

Guest
"Preston Crawford" <[email protected]> wrote in message
news:[email protected]...
> I'm not saying this is what's happening, but the test was abnormal in that I had so-so B12, but
> REALLY high Folic Acid. On the lab report 3 or more (3 of what I can't remember) was considered
> normal, but my rating was 21. So I started researching and discovered that high folic acid can
> sometimes mask B12 deficiency. So my questions are as follows.
>
To me, the interesting question is why the heck your folic acid count is so high. I thought folic
acid was a B vitamin, and B vitamins were water soluble and extra got excreted in the urine.

Have you been a vegetarian long enough to even have a chance of a B12 deficiency? I thought the
body typically stored pretty good quantities of this vitamin up, so you would have to be veggie
for quite some time to have even a chance at a deficiency. Plus, you are probably taking a
multivitamin with B12.

Having said that, I will add that I'm asking this out of curiosity (I have two vegetarian daughters)
rather than out of expertise.
 
P

Pbwalther

Guest
Going to a nutritionist might be a good idea.

A friend of mine came down with diabetes. His physician sent him to a nutritionist to get dialed
into the right diet (physicians generally know very little about nutrition). The interesting thing
was that a lot of his diet was trial and error. Apparantly, what will spike one person's blood suger
will not affect another person's.

A nutritionist might not be able to help you but I suppose they probably won't be able to hurt
you either.
 
P

Preston Crawfor

Guest
In article <[email protected]>, Pbwalther wrote:
> Going to a nutritionist might be a good idea.
>
> A friend of mine came down with diabetes. His physician sent him to a nutritionist to get dialed
> into the right diet (physicians generally know very little about nutrition). The interesting thing
> was that a lot of his diet was trial and error. Apparantly, what will spike one person's blood
> suger will not affect another person's.
>
> A nutritionist might not be able to help you but I suppose they probably won't be able to hurt
> you either.

Saw a nutritionist on Friday. According to her my diet looks fine. Great, she said. And all my
numbers from my most recent blood test were fine. The only abnormality being that I had a REALLY
high Folic Acid reading and my iron looked a little low. So right now one thing I'm trying is to not
take my Prilosec (I have Gerd) in the morning, so that hopefully my multi-vitamins get digested and
absorbed as much as possible. She said the Prilosec would definitely interfere with that.

Preston
 
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