Time to get serious. I’m going to test for food allergies which can be a major factor in mood problems. I’ve been given a blood test for food allergies, but from what I’ve been reading lately blood tests are not accurate. When I had mine several years ago I came up clean except for kidney beans which my nutritionist at the time said was very mild and not a concern. I know, however, that I am allergic to peppers and those did not test as allergic, so I’m buying that the blood test is less than accurate. Peppers, a member of the nightshade family, which are often allergic foods, give me diarrhea. I’ve known this for years.
I’m using the guidelines for food elimination from “The Mood Cure,” which I’ve mentioned before. Julia Ross recommends cutting out grains with gluten which include wheat, rye, barley, spelt and oats. Corn can be another offending grain but for other reasons. When cutting out gluten you have to read all ingredients as gluten is hidden in many foods. For example “hydrolized vegetable protein” or “modified food starch” can have wheat or soy in them. (Soy is also to be cut out.) I already don’t eat soy as it has phytoestrogens in it and any hormone can cause problems. For example, Soy infant formulas can cause developmental problems in children because of the high estrogen levels. Boys may develop more slowly and girls can start menstruating at alarmingly early ages. I intend to stay away from soy in general as I don’t need hormonal upsets. I have enough of those during my premenstrual phase.
A note on gluten intolerance. Celiac disease is a disease caused by gluten intolerance. I’ve known for quite some time that this can cause dramatic psychiatric symptoms, but I recently had a brief correspondence with a woman with celiac disease who told me her story to drive home the point. She was repeatedly hospitalized for floridly psychotic episodes and diagnosed schizophrenic at an early age. She discovered she had celiac disease and within a week of cutting out gluten she became symptom free. It can be that dramatic.
All cow’s milk products need to be cut out too. Allergies to milk can be to lactose only, or to other of it’s properties as well. If only allergic to lactose, lactose free products are fine. Most people who are allergic to cow’s milk for other reasons can eat goat and sheep milk products.
Chocolate, peanuts and eggs are other potential offenders, but not as commonly. The plants in the nightshade family; tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, and tobacco need to be eliminated as well. Since I already know I’m allergic to peppers, I’m hoping I won’t find the others (excluding tobacco–I don’t want to use tobacco in any case) problematic. Can you imagine a life without tomatoes? I can’t. The last and probably least likely offender she recommends you cut out is oranges. She notes that oranges are usually only a problem for children, as are peanuts, chocolate, corn and eggs. I’m simply choosing to do everything to cover all the bases. While I’m at it, to minimize any confusion, I’ll have to cut out my beloved black tea, which I should have cut out a long time ago. That is going to be the most difficult thing for me.
I was planning to start the diet tomorrow, but since Ross recommends not testing foods while premenstrual I figure I’ll start next month once I ovulate. Since I’ll only be testing while in the first half of my cycle that seems to make the most sense. I don’t want this to go on longer than it needs to. You can only test a food every three or four days. This may mean that the whole process might take a few months, but as long as I’m not allergic to something I can add it back into my diet once determining I’m not allergic.
I realize that since I’m in active withdrawals my results could be quite inconclusive as withdrawal symptoms may confuse things. I may not be allergic to something but have symptoms due to withdrawals that I could misinterpret as a food allergy. It’s possible I will have to do this all over again once I’ve completed my withdrawals, but since that could be a couple of years from now, I’d like to at least try to rule out foods that may potentially be making my withdrawal process more difficult.
The allergy reactions I’m looking for can all mimic withdrawal reactions–most commonly (as taken from “The Mood Cure”)–irritability, angry outbursts, glum lethargy, teariness, hyperactivity, stress and depression or just diarrhea which can be the cause of ongoing nutritional malabsorption. Of course there are people who have much more severe psychiatric symptoms as well. Since I sometimes exhibit all these symptoms I can hope that I am allergic to something that is the cause of the symptoms. It is possible as well, however, that any of these symptoms might be caused simply by the withdrawal. There is also a wide array of physical symptoms more classically understood as allergic reactions; diarrhea, as mentioned above being one of them.
To do the elimination diet you cut out everything that may be offending for two weeks then add food and wait four days. A reaction can take up to 48 hours to occur. Then you wait until that passes and try another food until you’ve worked through all the foods.
On a different note, I’ve just begun to taper my Risperdal again. I had a really nasty accumulative withdrawal effect the last time I was tapering Risperdal. I was plugging along at cutting 1/8 mg a week of Risperdal. I began this last taper at 4 mg. (I was at one point on 11 mg, but cut out the first 6 mg about three years ago) When I started at the 4 mg level things went very smoothly for several months at the rate of once a week–going more slowly if I had to travel or had any other stressful event. All of a sudden at 7/8 mg I got very sick. I was stressed to a huge degree and had pain in my back, neck and shoulders. It was quite excruciating. With the advice of an expert on withdrawal I realized that my pace should have slowed down, but since I was sleeping I used that as an indicator of it being okay to continue, even after not feeling so good once I reached the 1-1/2 mg dose. The withdrawal effect accumulated and I needed to reinstate to 1-1/2 mg where I have remained since the end of January. In March I cut out 100 mg of the 400 mg of Lamictal I was on. That went smoothly. I’ve now had a one month break in any withdrawal. I plan to go very slowly perhaps taking two weeks to a month between Risperdal tapers this time around. And I’ll have to start making the decreases smaller.
The reason I’m returning to Risperdal now is because I’ve learned that high levels of prolactin, which is caused by Risperdal can aggravate and cause PMS. I’m feeling an urgent need to get off of the Risperdal now as my PMS is often quite intolerable. I challenge my marriage two weeks out of every month! The damn hard part of this is that it could conceivably take up to even a year to get off the rest of the Risperdal. The smaller the dose, the smaller the tapers have to be. No more than 10% of the current dose should ever be cut at one time. This, of course, in theory could go on forever, but at a certain point you take the plunge and jump off a tiny remaining amount.