Discover more from Clues Dot Life
Treating mental illness with the ketogenic diet. "March Madness" and why Bipolar Disorder presents itself more in the spring. Why some people find it easy to change and others find it hard.
Aloha from Hawaii! I’m here on the big island for the next couple of months for the next steps in my wellness journey.
There’s a talented healer on the island that I’ve worked with before, and after a few years break since my last sessions with her, I’m back at it again to help unpack a part of my subconscious that’s holding me back from what I want next in my life. Wish me luck!
That said, let’s get into it! And don’t forget to share with others that you think may benefit from reading my writing.
Treating mental illness with the ketogenic diet.
I recently spoke with Dr. Christopher Palmer, the Director of the Department of Postgraduate and Continuing Education at McLean Hospital, and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Palmer's clinical practice focuses on treatment-resistant cases using psychopharmacology, psychotherapy, and complementary and alternative treatments.
He has been researching the interface of psychiatric disorders and metabolic disorders such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and inflammation. Dr. Palmer is pioneering the use of the ketogenic diet in psychiatry, based on his experience treating patients and his extensive research. He has written a book called Brain Energy that explores the connection between our lifestyle choices, eating habits, and mental health.
It also doesn’t take much reading between the lines to capture his meta-message: we shouldn’t just throw pills at everything, and a diagnosis isn’t a lifelong sentence — full remission of mental illness is possible with the appropriate lifestyle changes!
His message is powerful and worth listening to. Thank you Dr. Palmer for spreading your wisdom with us.
“March Madness” and metabolic disorders arising in the Spring
We’ve all noticed how our mood changes according to the weather. For some, the mood shift is much more pronounced, and some recent research reveals why that may be the case, especially for those with bipolar disorder.
The study looked at seasonal patterns associated with the onset of bipolar disorder and its underlying mechanisms. It measured targeted metabolomics (the large-scale study of small molecules) to understand metabolic changes in patients with bipolar disorder before and after the spring equinox.
The results showed that 27 metabolite levels changed significantly as a result of changes in solar radiation (how much sun we get) and the lunar cycle. The metabolic changes, inspired by shifts in the season, reveal more about the human experience, and how much we’re closely tied to our natural environment.
Maybe this is why animals also become more onery and spastic with a fresh spring sun?
Why is change easy for some and hard for others?
Have you ever been frustrated by a friend or family member that can’t seem to change their ways? Or, bumped into an old friend only to find that they’ve radically changed, leaving you a bit befuddled as to what happened?
Some recent research on the subject of personality change has given me a deeper perspective on the topic.
There is a concept known as “personality stability”, which refers to how consistent a person's typical thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are over time. While personality is relatively stable, it can still change due to different factors, such as the natural aging process, major life events, and daily interactions with other people.
There are what’s called the "Big Five" personality traits: extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness. These traits can change over time, with agreeableness typically increasing with age and neuroticism decreasing. However, individuals vary in how they change. Some people remain stable, while others show decreases or increases in certain traits.
Those with a stable personality profile tend to maintain their own typical levels of consistency across time, suggesting that the stability of one’s personality can itself be a dispositional characteristic. In other words, some people are more capable or less capable of changes to their personality.
There are three processes that underlie personality stability:
Developmental constants (such as genetic or biological factors and early life experiences)
Environmental factors (such as a long-term career, partner, and dwelling)
Stochastic or random factors (such as unexpected life changes that can reduce stability)
Recognizing the quality of personality stability can help us better understand ourselves and others. People who are more stable in their personalities may be less likely to change, while those who are less stable in their personalities may be more open to change. However, most people fall somewhere in the middle, which allows them to change a little bit while still maintaining their core personality. But there are outliers. I consider myself one of them given the radical amount of change that I’ve undergone a few times in my life, especially over the last 3 years.
Here’s the clue that I take from it:
Most people have a steady personality over time, but some are more capable of change, including drastic change. Early life experiences and unexpected events can impact personality stability. Those who have been through more hardship may feel less stable in their sense of self and undergo more changes. Understanding this can help in the pursuit of self-understanding and self-acceptance.
I’ve often asked myself, “Why can’t I be like others?” on certain personality traits. I tend to beat myself up over my differences, especially when they go against social norms. But by understanding that we’re all wired differently, I can move a step closer to full self-acceptance.
Updates to Clues.Life
I shipped a bunch of updates to clues.life recently. Here are a few that I think you should check out:
A wrote a first draft of a post on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I plan on creating a course on this eventually, but it’s a good start.
That’s it for this week’s clues. Again, if you find my writing useful, please consider subscribing or sharing it with others.