Dr Robert Atkins

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I have treated about 45,000 patients in my career. In just about every community around the country, psychiatrists are doing a sort of knee-jerk reaction to the problem of anxiety and depression. They never bother to ask, "Why is my patient having a problem?" Instead, they immediately ask, "What is the name of the problem and what's its standard orthodox treatment?" They are bypassing the most important question of all: "Why is my patient sick?"

I would classify anxiety and depression under the general category of "diet-related disorder." By this I mean, there is something in the diet that is actually contributing enough to this problem so that if we correct the diet, the problem will disappear. The first question you have to ask is whether the symptoms change from hour to hour. Is the depression worse for an hour, and then it suddenly lifts? Does the anxiety change from hour to hour? That is the cardinal thing to look for because if the depression or anxiety are changeable, then they are almost definitely diet-related.

What are the mechanisms of diet-related disorder? There are three major ones. The first--and the most important one--is blood-sugar instability. The old name was hypoglycemia, but that really doesn't describe it. It's the condition in which the blood sugar is capable of rapid escalations and rapid falls, so much so that the body is putting out other hormones--particularly adrenaline--to help regulate the blood sugar. Adrenaline is called forth when the blood sugar is on a free fall, which it usually does if something made it go up very fast, like a candy bar or a sugar- and caffeine-laden cola drink. You can make your blood sugar go up very fast and if you have this problem, which, I would say, at least half the population has to some extent, then adrenaline is released and you get a panic attack. That is really the basis of most anxiety states. Panic attacks can turn into an absolute phobia. You get a panic attack two or three times, and then become phobic in relation to whatever it was you were doing at the time you got your panic attack.

The second mechanism is food allergies, which works a little differently. First you eat the offending food--which is often a grain, or milk, or sometimes some of the protein foods. Usually, the foods you are allergic to are whatever you eat most often, and since in our culture so many people eat bread with every meal, you have to suspect wheat. A lot of people drink milk with every meal, so dairy is a prime allergen. After eating foods you are allergic to over a long period of time, you may develop a leaky gut syndrome, and then you will develop the inability to handle the protein complexes that are characteristic of that food. So you get a reaction after you eat it. With the blood sugar instability, on the other hand, you get your reaction before a meal, if you haven't eaten, or if you have eaten sweets and then you haven't eaten anything else, which is the classical way to get it.

The third mechanism of this triumvirate is yeast, specifically candida albicans. The yeast itself is capable, through biochemical intermediaries, of making people a little flaky right from the very beginning, but it also makes you more likely to have food intolerances and it also frequently arises in people with sugar imbalances. Very often we will see people with all three of those conditions and they are going to a psychiatrist who is not trained to diagnose diet-related disorders. So even though you have psychiatric symptoms, you have a good chance of being incorrectly diagnosed because the person you are seeing does not specialize in diet-related disorders.

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