Vegan diet increases anxiety - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 09-21-2014, 01:35 PM
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Vegan diet increases anxiety

I've been slowly transitioning into a vegan diet over the past year & learning about the lifestyle.. I generally eat one non-vegan meal a day now. However, I'm 9 months postpartum and nursing, and I've been dealing with postpartum depression and anxiety. (Btw, I am going to therapy and using natural methods to overcome this and am slowly getting better).

Anyway, I mention the depression And anxiety because I've tried twice since my daughter was born to switch to a full vegan diet, and both times, within a week, my anxiety increased tenfold. Instead of having anxiety attacks every few days, I was having several a day.

I would really like to be full vegan, but I'm afraid that cutting out meat is depriving me of something that I need right now. I've considered it to be maybe a lack of zinc, a B vitamin, or other nutrient. I've gone to a Dr who ran several tests, including iron, thyroid, and such which were all fine.

I'm really just at a loss as to why this is happening to me. I'm wondering if anyone else has ever experienced this before. I can't exactly afford to visit a Dr and ask for more testing. And the drs in my area are not very vegan-friendly anyway.. And would probably just discourage the diet change. Does anyone have any advice for me? Thanks!
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#2 Old 09-21-2014, 02:23 PM
 
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Hi. Firstly, good for you for reaching out. That's usually one of the most difficult things to overcome. So your doing well. My ex suffered from postpartum depression and anxiety after both her pregnancy's. Unfortunately she delt with it in unhealthy ways. So again, good on you for trying to do what your doing.

I wish I could say do this and that and you'll be fine, but alas I can't. I can say that making sure your getting all your vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids etc... Is the foundation. It sounds like your pretty much there. Perhaps you need to do more research regarding what to add to your diet that you would be getting from animal products.

Vitamin D is a big one as it's fat soluble. It really contributes to feeling well as well as other processes in the body. B12 is the other big one for vegans. The amino acid Trypophan can be helpful with depression/anxiety as it's a precursor to the production of seretonin.

Could there be an underlying fear of living without animal products? You will get support here. Maybe some local groups. Look on meetup.com for veg groups.

I know the stress of making meals when your busy with kids. I have three non veg kids. So I make at least two different meals at a time. Perhaps planning your meals for the week could be helpful. Keep your recipies simple to start. We can give you suggestions for that daily non veg meal you want to get rid of.

If you can find the time,exercise is great for stress of all kinds. Check out Fitness Blender for free workout routines.

Take it slow, maybe try having your non vegan meal every second day. Then space it out from there.

Keep us posted. Postpatum can be trricky but it will pass.
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#3 Old 09-21-2014, 02:28 PM
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Does it? I went through my worst phase of anxiety and panic attacks (also several per day) when I still ate meat.
Could it be that the reason why your anxiety gets worse is because, like you said, you're afraid it will deprive you of some nutrients, thus your fear causes more anxiety?

"We have enslaved the rest of the animal creation, and have treated our distant cousins in fur and feathers so badly that beyond doubt, if they were able to formulate a religion, they would depict the Devil in human form." - William Ralphe Inge

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#4 Old 09-21-2014, 02:33 PM
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Sounds like your severe issues with anxiety would rise no matter the life change you make. I don't thing it's vegan related, I think it's anxiety centered.

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#5 Old 09-21-2014, 04:00 PM
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Hi Cherrylimeade, I'm sorry you're going through this. Vanilla Gorilla's ^^ post and the others here are spot on, great information.

One other thing, are you getting enough calories? It can be difficult on a vegan diet, the food is mostly higher in bulk and lower in calories especially with a baby, depression, and probably lack of sleep. There's not really one nutrient deficiency that would affect you so quickly after stopping eating animal products. Calorie deficit would make you feel bad after a short time, though.

Supplementing Vitamins D and B12 as well as calcium/magnesium (2/1 ratio calcium to magnesium) especially if you've had leg cramps or restless leg is probably a good idea as a nursing mom.

Hope your depression lifts soon. Meditation is the single best thing for it, imo.
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#6 Old 09-21-2014, 05:33 PM
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Good on you for getting help!

As the others have already suggested, I think looking into 'why' you might be having this anxiety around the veganism is a good idea. It does sound as though you're worried you'll be depriving your body of certain things.

I've just finished reading "Vegan For Her" it's a pretty comprehensive book about how to stay healthy on a vegan diet (and covers things like times when you're pregnant and breastfeeding). If you can, I definitely recommend picking it up. It doesn't mean you HAVE to go vegan straight away, but it could really help you with the transition and give you some insights into your own health, which might help you feel more comfortable with going vegan.

Hope you're feeling better soon.
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#7 Old 09-21-2014, 06:05 PM
 
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I don't have much to add other than to say that grains and seeds are a good source of tryptophan. I'm sorry you're going through this and hope you find a solution soon.
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#8 Old 09-21-2014, 09:26 PM
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Do not supplement anything. You will just worsen your case. They cannot sell us meat anymore and now they want to sell us pills? Don't buy this advertising.

Just eat various foods, at the start it can be difficult, but your mental problems are not having anything with diet. I would say that Vegan food will make your mental state better. It is also possible that you are cleaning your body from all that meat. There is some science about humans that eat meat also raise in cortisol level, something like they eat animal stress hormone.

I suggest if you are in fear that you are missing something important to your body, go see your doctor. Also, if you are missing some small parts of vitamins or something else don't panic and don't supplement because you are probably fine.

For fear and depression you should ask the doctor. But recipe is simple, natural food, meditation and please for god sake don't watch TV, especially commercials if you can not handle all that commercial fears that are there to sell you something.
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#9 Old 09-21-2014, 11:10 PM
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Do not supplement anything. You will just worsen your case. They cannot sell us meat anymore and now they want to sell us pills? Don't buy this advertising.

First, supplementing something won't 'worsen' her case. If anything, supplementing with things like Vitamin D and B12 might even make things better for her. (There's no guarantee, but they're things you should be aware of).

Secondly, it's not 'advertising' it's science.



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Originally Posted by beegan View Post

Just eat various foods, at the start it can be difficult, but your mental problems are not having anything with diet. I would say that Vegan food will make your mental state better. It is also possible that you are cleaning your body from all that meat. There is some science about humans that eat meat also raise in cortisol level, something like they eat animal stress hormone.

I suggest if you are in fear that you are missing something important to your body, go see your doctor. Also, if you are missing some small parts of vitamins or something else don't panic and don't supplement because you are probably fine.
.
This part I agree with, to a point, that you should go and see your doctor if you feel you're missing something. However, the doctor will probably point you towards supplements as well, if your levels are low.

Vitamin D is a problem for a lot of people, it's not a 'vegan' thing, it's a people thing. Vitamin D is hard to find in food sources, it's best source is the sun. But we know what happens with too much sun exposure, so if you'd rather not take the risk....Take a vitamin D supplement instead.

Calcium is important for bones, women's bones in particular need to be looked after. There's nothing wrong with taking a supplement, if you feel like maybe you aren't getting 'all' that you need to.

B12 isn't in most vegan foods, unless they're fortified. But, B12 helps you in a lot of different ways. There's nothing wrong with taking a B12 supplement if you feel you might not be getting enough (there are vegan ones out there).

Of course, you probably don't 'NEED' any supplements as long as you're eating a varied diet all of the time. If you're eating foods that are fortified then even better!

But here's how I see it, I'm not willing to bet my health on my ability to eat right all of the time. And I'm just one person, who's not had a kid and is only looking after herself (in general, I have a partner but he tends to be more self-sufficient than a newborn, it's one of his selling points ).
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#10 Old 09-21-2014, 11:34 PM
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Well, I just wanted to say that she should not take supplements on her own.

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if you feel you might not be getting enough
Don't take pharmaceutic pills on the feeling, that will I guarantee worsen your case.

If you really care about your health you would never use any vitamin supplements or any other industry made stuff (food, pills, sodas). You will make sure you get everything from nice healthy food. Just run on any nutrition website and read. You want vitamin D, google: food rich with Vitamin D (out of my brain: almond milk, banana, sun). As you see, you don't need pills, you don't need to give money to get the poison.

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Secondly, it's not 'advertising' it's science.
And it is not science, science is something else, this is capitalism.

P.S. I would rather risk with nature sun than with artificial made pills.
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#11 Old 09-22-2014, 12:02 AM
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Well, I just wanted to say that she should not take supplements on her own.

Don't take pharmaceutic pills on the feeling, that will I guarantee worsen your case.

If you really care about your health you would never use any vitamin supplements or any other industry made stuff (food, pills, sodas). You will make sure you get everything from nice healthy food. Just run on any nutrition website and read. You want vitamin D, google: food rich with Vitamin D (out of my brain: almond milk, banana, sun). As you see, you don't need pills, you don't need to give money to get the poison.


And it is not science, science is something else, this is capitalism.

P.S. I would rather risk with nature sun than with artificial made pills.
You're right, almond milk can be a good source of vitamin D.... If it's fortified with vitamin D. That's not the same as it actually containing vitamin D. The best source is still the sun and you're just going to have to forgive me if I recommend for someone to not spend too much time out in the sun, what with the whole 'cancer' thing.

B12 can't be found in most whole foods. You could try not washing your food, but I just can't bring myself to not do that. As I said, I eat quite a few foods that are fortified in it, but I also like to take a B12 supplement as well, every few days.

Calcium is available within vegan foods. But for me, I feel a lot more comfortable in the knowledge that some of my regular foods, like my soy milk, have been fortified with calcium as well. To me, there's very little difference between fortifying a food or supplementing myself, in the long run it's just adding a vitamin to something, isn't it?

See, that's science that has informed those suggestions. You can call it capitalism if you like, it doesn't stop you being wrong, but you can call it capitalism.
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#12 Old 09-22-2014, 09:53 AM
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Originally Posted by beegan View Post
Do not supplement anything. You will just worsen your case. They cannot sell us meat anymore and now they want to sell us pills? Don't buy this advertising.

Just eat various foods, at the start it can be difficult, but your mental problems are not having anything with diet. I would say that Vegan food will make your mental state better. It is also possible that you are cleaning your body from all that meat. There is some science about humans that eat meat also raise in cortisol level, something like they eat animal stress hormone.

I suggest if you are in fear that you are missing something important to your body, go see your doctor. Also, if you are missing some small parts of vitamins or something else don't panic and don't supplement because you are probably fine.

For fear and depression you should ask the doctor. But recipe is simple, natural food, meditation and please for god sake don't watch TV, especially commercials if you can not handle all that commercial fears that are there to sell you something.
B 12 deficiency is serious and can cause permanent nerve damage. There is no B12 in veg foods unless they are supplemented, so long-term vegans, especially older ones, are at high risk of deficiency.
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#13 Old 09-22-2014, 02:26 PM
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Thanks everyone for the advice. I thought that cutting out meat would help with my anxiety, too. But the idea that switching to a vegan diet isn't physically causing me anxiety, but emotionally.. Being afraid that I'm not getting everything I need... That is something I hadn't really considered. A lot of my anxiety is hypochondria-based.. Something my therapist is helping me work on.

I'm not against taking nutritional supplements.. But I do try to use food to give myself everything I need as well.

I may just try eating one non-vegan meal every other day. Maybe it will help ease my mind into it a little more. Thanks!
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#14 Old 09-22-2014, 04:43 PM
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I'm not against taking nutritional supplements.. But I do try to use food to give myself everything I need as well.
And, I think, that's the healthiest attitude you can have to going vegan!

If you don't mind me asking, where are you on your transition to vegan?

Are you vegetarian every day of the week? Or are you still eating animals?

It's just that where you are in the transition, really can point to the best thing for you to do next. For me, I went vegetarian overnight (but it was something that had been in my head for weeks). But I didn't cut eggs for a year and dairy I only cut a few months ago. Apart from the occasional honey, I eat a plant-based diet (I'm not a vegan, but that's another story).

As for the anxiety, I think that's pretty normal for most of us (I assume, I suffer from anxiety too, so what's normal? :P). It really helped me to read as much as I could on the matter, so I could feel like I was getting enough of all of the good stuff.

This is still my favourite thing to show people who are just starting out-

http://www.vrg.org/nutshell/MyVeganPlate.pdf

Though, I'm sure you mentioned you were breastfeeding? If that's the case, then there's probably more specific nutritional needs you'll need to meet. Either way, vrg.org was really great for me.

Aside from that, books like 'Becoming Vegetarian' helped me start eating a bit healthier (they have vegan nutrition in there too and there's a book 'Becoming Vegan' written by the same people which, if it's anything like 'Becoming Vegetarian' is a great book!).
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#15 Old 09-23-2014, 02:15 PM
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Yes it sounds like you are dealing with the comfort of what you have been eating. If you grew up eating frog's legs, snails and dog and sheep penis, it could cause stress eating something else. I just learned that a restaurant in Beijing, China sells seal penis for $500 a dish. They believe eating it helps your thing if you have one. They also have penis hot pot with the penises of 7 animals. You can try yoga or meditation or something that helps you to relax and feel peace.

Also it matters what you are replacing the meat with. If you are replacing it with more wheat, it could cause lots of problems.

Here is an article on LinkedIn, the 10th biggest website in the country. It has on it the CDC, Harvard School of Public Health and American Heart Association saying to eat more fruits and vegetables. It is called

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#16 Old 09-23-2014, 03:11 PM
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After 6 months of being vegan, I got extensive blood work done. All factors you mention were fine with my results. I did great without meat, or dairy, etc.

You don't need meat to be healthy.

I can't explain your anxiety....maybe it's not diet related? If you are switching to a HEALTHIER diet, that would relieve any anxiety.......right?

GOOD LUCK.

All animals should be respected & should have the ability to lead a natural & enjoyable life. This means not eating them, or abusing them in any way.
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#17 Old 09-23-2014, 04:39 PM
 
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Worsened anxiety could possibly be diet related if your not getting enough of the right nutrients. While a vegan diet is the healthiest option, not everyone gets optimal nutrition even though they tend to get better nutrition than others. A B-12 supplement or supplemented foods is absolutely necessary. You do need to make sure you get enough vitamin D, whether from sunlight, food, or supplements, with sunlight being optimal. And you have to be purposeful about getting enough Omega-3.

People shouldn't automatically discount diet as a cause of health problems just because someone is vegan. People's bodies are different and process nutrients differently even if the person is supposedly doing everything right. The good news is, diet related problems can be easily fixed, so that's what we should hope is the problem.

It's harder to find the cause and solution for non diet related problems. I do believe natural remedies are far better than pharmaceuticals and that pharmaceutical drugs cause more problems than they solve.
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#18 Old 09-24-2014, 09:17 PM
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Originally Posted by neo77 View Post
Yes it sounds like you are dealing with the comfort of what you have been eating. If you grew up eating frog's legs, snails and dog and sheep penis, it could cause stress eating something else. I just learned that a restaurant in Beijing, China sells seal penis for $500 a dish. They believe eating it helps your thing if you have one. They also have penis hot pot with the penises of 7 animals. You can try yoga or meditation or something that helps you to relax and feel peace.

Also it matters what you are replacing the meat with. If you are replacing it with more wheat, it could cause lots of problems.
Ew gross..

It may be a comfort thing... I know that part of my anxiety stems from feeling like i lack control over my life. (I have a 2 year old AND a 9 month old, so my life is chaotic, regardless). I really do, or I think I do (but maybe deep inside i have a little bit of fear on the matter) believe that veganism is a completely healthy lifestyle. And perhaps the "detoxing", what with having read about side effects of cutting animal products, like how it can cause mood swings, probably isn't helping.

On one hand, i want to think the anxiety attacks "caused" from switching to a vegan diet are all in my head, because that would mean that i'm physically capable of being vegan. BUT on the other hand, i wish it was a simple vitamin/nutrient fix... Because it's scarier and much more challenging to face something that's "all in your head."

Maybe i really do just need more assurance of veganism being a healthy choice. Or just a little more support.. Like from posting on this forum

I'm glad i asked this here because talking it out helped me understand it a little more. No one i know really agrees with veganism, and it kind of makes me doubt myself. I do go to therapy, but honestly i'm a little afraid of bringing it up with my therapist for fear that she will deem it an unhealthy choice, too.

It would be lovely if i had a vegan friend to talk to, you know. So i can differentiate what's real and what's probably all in my head!
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#19 Old 09-24-2014, 09:33 PM
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Oh, AND I guess I should mention I decided to take it a bit slower by just going veggie first.

I do try really hard to replace my meat not with wheat, but with beans, tofu, hummus, veggies, and the like.

I'm going to look into the resources, too! Thanks, everyone <3
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#20 Old 11-20-2015, 01:29 PM
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A year later...how are you? Did you go vegan? How is your anxiety etc now?
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