So it is coincidence that my vegetarian transition coincided w/ my mental illness?
There do seem to be a fair number of depressed people on here....
I think it's too simplistic to argue this...but also, think of some key things.
First of all. Sensitivity. Highly sensitive people are MORE LIKELY to get overwhelmed and long term stress can overtime change biochemical production...hormonal production. Hence, long term stress often leads to burnout and with it, massive depressive episodes.
I also think that those who are very concerned with animal rights, with environmentalism, with politics and global food distribution...I think you are going to have a larger number of individuals with these interests who are also very sensitive. Afterall, who is going to become consummed and passionate about things that don't directly impact them? More sensitive people. Not all the time, but usually, and sensitive people might also be more prone to depressive disorders because it's like being a highly receptive recorder. A little noise...and SCREETCH. TOO LOUD. If you can understand my lame-brain analogy.
Secondly, being more sensitive can lead some people...without the strongest network of friends, or a solid family...to feel isolated. Loneliness can worsen depression, I think. When I'm down, a call from a friend, a hug...these boost my spirits.
Now, other posters have also mentioned that mental disturbances can worsen during the late teens and early 20's (my idea? Yup - you got it
Sleep disturbances, ulcers, worrying about getting to your second job, worrying about student loans, and writing that honors paper, oh shoot...I'm five minutes late for that babysitting gig! ahhh!). I think college students who actually sleep are a rare breed. Most of my friends pop sleeping pills/ wake up pills or some type of upper, and average far less than we know is best for 'optimal health'. But they have a lot to do, and also have worries about jobs and current (and future!) finances (since they are, dang, now in debt!) and everything else. I think for that reason, 18-24 year old's are more than susceptible to frazzled-nerves-syndrome!
Finally, biological health. If you become a vegetarian, but simply cut out animal products, and that is it...you'll wind up in trouble. This is what happened when I was 13...although I had been vegetarian for 5 years prior to that... But I started living off of junk food, like lots of teens, and meat I guess, had been my buffer. It has enough iron, and lots of relative protein, and overall it 'bridged' the gap that my high chocolate-low veggie intake would have generated. Without it, and without a real sense of nutrition, I became highly anemic at 13. The problem was remedied when I was 14, and started taking iron pills and eating better foods (I was dangerously low in the iron department...I also have a congential absorption problem...just fate. Not caused by vegetarianism. Not caused by an ed. Just a flaw since birth...and I don't absorb nutrients very well. I don't digest food wholly.). Anyway, deprive the brain of oxygen...as is the case in anemia (whether pernicious or iron deficient related)...and you wind up in trouble.
Muddled thinking, crying spells, dizziness...which can LEAD to fears and LEAD to panic attacks. So many psychological disorders can be triggered by poor health.
So I'd say that b12 is a good idea too, and lots of b vitamins in general, and watch iron, and generally try to eat many different kinds of lentils and veggies and whatnot.
In essence, I don't think vegetarianism CAUSES any mental disturbance...only that there might be a clustering of traits that certain people possess... There might be certain pre-dispositions that cause people to become interested in certain issues, and maybe there is a genetic basis for this...and also for certain mental illness.
Additionally (I think this is fascinating) but certain groups are often more likely to have physical 'strengths' and 'weaknesses'. There is a spiking of OCD amongst germanic peoples, and celiac disease is more common among the irish. Tay Sachs is common to a particular Jewish segment in very high numbers compared to the general population, and African American peoples are more likely to develop sickle cell anemia. There is a biological reason for all of this... But depression, including bipolar, schizophrenia, and a bunch of other mental disorders were studied...and there is also some thought that viral exposure is a key player or could be a component. In one recent study, 78% of the participants came back with flagged blood tests...positive for the borna virus (it was a study on manic depression). So it could also be that, in the future, we may learn that certain conditions...certain times of sickness...that seem to 'trigger' a disorder. That a virus, or a prion is, in fact, the root cause. The body is pre-disposed, given genetic sensitivities, comes in contact with the virus. The virus is latent (as some viruses remain latent in tissue for years!) and then a disorder is 'activated' by extreme stress...and this could explain why there is a disproportionate number of 20somethings showing the first real signs of mental disturbance.
Additionally, I read about a rare syndrome of pediatric anorexia cause by a virus...or was it strep? Something like that - a moneran or something similar...fascinating article.
There are so many possibilities...so many 'attributable potential causes'...but I'd say that the vegetarianism didn't cause the mental disturbance that currently plauge you... I have never read that the correlation of any mental disturbance is higher amongst vegan/ vegetarian groups.
I just hope you feel better soon!