I regularly see a psychologist having suffered from depression, anxiety and paranoia of varying degrees over the last 6 years some of which was due to a trauma I suffered in 2012. Although I refused medication my symptoms did get incredibly severe at many points in this time. I found that seeing a psychologist slowly helped in relation to the trauma and eating “clean” and doing very regular exercise helped overall, but I still wasn’t anywhere near well. It wasn’t until last year when I saw a dietitian for bowel, fatigue and skin problems that I realised what I was eating could be affecting my overall mental health. Although I saw my dietician regularly at the start of my diet change, I rarely saw her after the first 6 months. The fed up website, Facebook group, “Tolerating troublesome foods” and the RPAH elimination diet book were the best resources for me; my dietician usually referred me back to them anyway. I only speak to her when I need specific advice as I found just talking through symptoms with my partner and family, keeping a food diary (essential!) and regularly seeing my psychologist were the best ways for me to see changes and keep tabs on my symptoms. Having said this i would definitely recommend having a professional supervise you when starting out.

I did the elimination diet/challenges and found I felt much better when fs, proving that salicylates caused many symptoms I hadn’t realised I had, to name a few: fatigue, inability to concentrate, terrible motor skills, foggy head and sleepless nights. As you can imagine these symptoms all contributed negatively to my mental health. I'm still working on finding what foods aggravate depression for me as I’ve been yo-yoing on and off the diet. I suspect my dairy and sals intolerance together being the main foods contributing to my depression but I really can’t say that for certain yet.

I recently found that soy severely triggers anxiety attacks for me. Caffeine also has a severe effect on my mood sometimes even decaf leaves me agitated and restless so I'm starting to think legumes could be a major issue for me. Of course the severity of my symptoms does change with the environmental factors and stresses that I’m experiencing at the time, however I am certain now that the soy mocha coffees that I used to drink every day, the rich tomato sauces, dark green vegetables, loads of fruit and juices that I loved so much (which I thought at the time were so healthy for me!) all very negatively impacted my mental health.

Now while maintaining a low–moderate salicylate, dairy, soy and caffeine free diet I feel much better mentally and physically. I’m always encouraging my family to try the diet as I know they have very similar symptoms to me and I’m almost certain it will be due to the same intolerance. I still have a long way to go in testing other food chemicals but just by removing some foods I feel like I’ve changed my entire life! - Sue

See factsheet on depression and story collection on depression