Why Sugar Is Poison to Depression

Sugar_2xmacroI have a theory: Many people who suffer from chronic severe depression and anxiety are allergic to sugar and foods like white flour that the human body processes like sugar.

Like most of my theories, I have tested this one on my 13-year-old son, because his brain is most like mine in our family (poor guy). After he has consumed three pumpkin muffins, his character completely changes, like the Green Goblin (Norman Osborn) in Spider-Man. Depending on the amount of fructose corn syrup in the muffins, his head sometimes spins around like Linda Blair in The Exorcist, and his pupils can do a 360 in the eye sockets. He is horribly obnoxious for about three hours—twerking at the refrigerator, riding his lacrosse stick like a horse through the living room–and then he starts sobbing: “I hate my life!! Someone please shoot me!” Often the next morning he will wake up hung over, with purple circles under his swollen eyes.

You would think that two somewhat intelligent parents would have picked up on this connection between his behavior and his diet in the first decade of his life, but it has only been in the last year we’ve been documenting the experiment. It’s harder than you think to get your kid excited about vegetables and steer him away from any kind of food offered in a vending machine. Whenever we try to encourage positive eating habits, something seems to go terribly wrong. Like the time we thought we’d have a fun family outing at Potbellies.

Eric: “David, do you think you could get a salad?”

Katherine (11-years-old): “I’m getting a sub!”

David (crying): “It’s not fair! I hate my brain!”

Eric: “Well, Katherine didn’t get the skinny gene.”

Katherine (crying): “You think I’m fat!”

Eric: “Let’s just go home.

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5 thoughts on “Why Sugar Is Poison to Depression

  1. Dear Therese, I read your article and I found everything in it relates to me so much. I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Fibromyalgia as well as Chronic severe depression. Due to the severe pain I am always in I take a bucket load of pills and was diagnosed as borderline Diabetic about 5 years ago but it is well controlled by diet so I don’t even bother checking my blood sugars any more. My biggest problem is that, due to all the meds I am on, I suffer from a very, very dry mouth and always need to be sucking on sweets to keep my mouth moist. I have tried the various gels on the market and they just don’t work. I am also very thirsty all the time and have realised this could be a side effect of the excess sugar I am having. I have a very fat tummy that I just cannot get rid of no matter what exercise I do – which is not much due to my chronic fatigue and pain. After reading your article I now realise I am on a never ending cycle and it is causing so much damage to my body. I have just had an Ultrasound of my abdomen which has shown that I have and enlarged, fatty liver and I am sure this is caused by my diet. Apart from the excess sugar my diet is pretty good. I do’t eat fatty food or takeout, I have a lot of vegetables, a bit of rice and meat for main meals and usually stick with gluten free for cereals for breakfast. As a result of the lack of saliva in my mouth I lost all my teeth over a period of a year 5 years ago and now wear full dentures which are no fun at the age of 55. I feel like I am actually 90 like my lovely neighbour who is also battling fatigue after time in hospital and kidney cancer which seems to be spreading. When I had teeth I used to chew sugar free peppermint gum for the dry mouth but I went to the Allergy Clinic at a large hospital in the city and went through an extensive elimination diet for a year in 2011 and discovered I was very allergic to anything with mint in it – it burned my mouth severely. I had a huge collection of Tictacs mints and the sugar free gum that I ended up giving away. Now I am only allowed to eat a certain brand of commercial sweets or make my own homemade toffees of just plain sugar and water. And I have something in my mouth ALL the time even when I sleep otherwise my mouth becomes extremely painfully dry and even water in not enough to ease the pain. I wake every hour or two to have a drink because I get so dry even at night. So I was wondering if you have any advise you can offer me on what I can do. I am going to see if I can get hold of the book you mentioned in your article and see if that can help me too. Thank you for all the work you put into writing these article for us – they are always very interesting and informative. Yours Sincerely Kathryn Mollenhauer

  2. I don’t see anything wrong with sugar, in moderation. I have GERD (in addition to everything else!) and my stomach is often acidic to the point of much discomfort. A teaspoon of pudding, a very small amount of something else that’s sweet, or a small piece of cheese usually calms my stomach down. Any substance, when overused, will be detrimental to anyone, not just people with depression. Yes, the symptoms for someone with a mental illness will be magnified, but that’s probably because of the difficulty we have in mentally processing what is going on with us. Alcohol contains lots of sugar and is known to exacerbate depression, but in moderation, I find that I can handle it. Alcohol abuse, by anyone, is detrimental, in some way or another. The issue of depression is just one of the side effects.

    I disagree with plowing a child with excess amounts of sugar to prove a theory. Watching a child suffer as a result of this is cruel in my opinion. I would not be happy with my parents if they put me through that. But who am I to judge, I have enough issues with fitting into society. Could that be the norm?

    Kathryn, I’m so sorry about your dry mouth. My sister has almost no saliva, caused by the radiation treatments she had as a result of her nasal pharyngeal cancer. I will check in with her and see how she survives. Maybe she’s found something other than sugar that helps.

  3. Hi Kathryn, I checked with my sister to see what she does about her poor production of saliva, which causes a dry mouth. She drinks water with her food, lots of it. She says there are lozenges that help but she doesn’t use them. She does not suck on candy.

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