Hi. I am a 27 yr old male and after about a decade of failing to fix my health problems am about at my wits end, so if anyone has any advice or can help in any way I'd be very grateful.
Symptoms: From my late teens I began experiencing some pretty odd psyghological and physical symptoms which an array of doctors diagnosed as major depressive disorder, or one of its variants (bipolar, generalised anxiety). The symptoms were vast & descibing them all would take too long, but essentially it felt like my brain was ceasing to funtion properly. I had the works; councelling, CBT, meditation, an array of antidepressants and drugs, and shock treatment, none of which had any effect. This was severe, it was getting worse as time went on, and frankly I was running out of options.
Then randomly last summer (June 2015) I decided to drastically alter my diet after reading a random BBC article proposing a link between gluten and dairy, and depression. I gave up both and immediately noticed a change - very minor - but a change nonetheless so I decided to stick with it.
Over the next 6 months I gradually began to notice my symptoms improve - I was still pretty far from OK but prior to this I was barely alive and nothing had helped, so this was a big deal. I was back in the gym and predicting a full recovery within 6 months, but then the stomach problems began.
After about 4 months on the new diet, I started noticing a dull ache in my abdomen just above the naval, which would knock me out for a week or so and then subside. The GP diagnosed acid reflux & prescribed omeprazole, but taking these suddenly brought back some depression-like symptoms so I stopped them immediately & decided to try cutting more from the diet - this time any gluten-free substitutes - and wait it out.
Eventually this improved, and after a few months I was back on course to fully recover. I went an active holiday with my family last Easter which would have previously been unthinkable, and genuinely felt a few months away from fully funtional.
Then on return I slipped up & had a gluten-free snack - one of those chocolate brownie subsitutes from Sainsburys' free-from range - and it completely knocked me out. Bad stomach cramps, general ill feeling, very light headed, and a lot of the previous depression symptoms were back. Notably also I was very consipated, and was only going about once a week. I was demoralised but calm - I felt like I just had to wait it out & I'd probably still be on track. But this time it took longer to recover, about 2 months for the cramps & symptoms to subside.
Eventually they did and I was back exercising, but again slipped up. This time i gorged on some bacon, which I hadn't ruled out and frankly wasn't sure would be an issue, but within a few hours all the same symptoms were back, and worse than ever. My stomach was now in real pain, and I spent the next few weeks curled up in the foetal position. Depression, constipation, all back.
Again gradually the symptoms began to subside, but it was taking a lot longer this time. The bacon was in late June of this year, and only by mid September was I approaching the level I was at before. I had nearly recovered when I began to feel like I was coming down with a common cold - no bother I thought - but this brought back all the stomach symptoms in a massive way and felt like I was back to square 1. Real pain throughout the day, I felt really bad. This was about a month ago, and while the worse of the cold seems to be long gone, my stomach is still really painful for large parts of the day. My bowel movements are very infrequent and when I do go look pretty unhealthy; very gooey & full of undigested matter.
Throughout this I've obviously been seeing the doctor. I had some blood tests - coeliac amongst others - which had all come back negative & was referred to a gastroenterologist who I saw earlier this month.
He basically took one look at my chart and said I had funtional abdominal pain. My stomach pain was being caused by my depression, not the other way round, and a biopsy would be pointless. He prescribed anti-depressants and/or cbt, and was told my diet had no effect on my overall wellbeing. To say I was unimpressed would be an understatement.
Afterwards I looked up funtional abdominal pain and it appears a necessary condition is the absense of a change in bowel movements. My bowel movements had obviously changed quite significantly so I began to hunt around for related conditions, and came across IBS which seemed to tick most of the boxes.
I decided to eradicate FODMAPs from the diet about a week ago to see if it had any effect. As of yet there hasn't been a huge amount of change in my physical or mental symptoms, however my consipation does seem to have eased somewhat; while my movements are still looking pretty unhealthy I'm now going once every 2 or 3 days. The pain is still pretty full on & am still feeling generally quite unwell so am relcutant to jump to any conclusions however.
Anyway this is where I'm at now. If you've read this far, thank you. Currently I'm considering quitting more foods just to see if there's any further change (pork? eggs?) but frankly all I'm really eating is unprocessed meat, some light gluten-free carbs (basically rice and potatoes) and a few varieties of low Fodmap fruit and veg, so not sure if there's anything else I can realistically do from here.
Again I have that familiar feeling of running out of options. I know there is a link between my stomach pain and my mental symptoms, but feel deep down that the stomach is the root cause and not vice versa. I know given my recovery from depression over the past year and the subsequent emergence of IBS-type symptoms that my diet is having at least some effect on my overall wellbeing. And it seems given this recent setback over the past month that my immune system is in some way linked, and that a viral infection can cause my stomach symptoms to flare up if they're not fully recovered. What this all means however I'm not sure. My main concern at the moment is whether I can do anything further to speed up my recovery, or help diagnosis through altering my diet even further. Any help with any of this would be massively appreciated because frankly I'm not sure where else to turn.
Again, many thanks.