Mental Illness and meditation

Norman G King, modified 10 Years ago at 4/20/12 4:36 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 4/20/12 4:35 PM

Mental Illness and meditation

Post: 1 Join Date: 4/20/12 Recent Posts
I suffer from schizoaffective disorder. I learned Buddhism and Meditation to try and recover from it. The illness makes it hard to make friends and have others be around me. There are side effects like flat effect where I cannot smile or I frown a lot. It is a rare mental illness.

How does one recover from a mental illness? I keep trying meditation. I feel awkward in meditation class because I cannot smile as others do, and I never seem to fit in anywhere.

What advice or suggestions can you give me to get better? I have become disabled because of my mental illness and cannot hold a job.
Tom Tom, modified 9 Years ago at 12/27/12 5:14 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 4/21/12 1:55 AM

RE: Mental Illness and meditation

Posts: 466 Join Date: 9/19/09 Recent Posts

I would recommend that you check out the works of Dr. Abram Hoffer and one of his books is: Orthomolecular Treatment for Schizophrenia

Dr. Hoffer recommends high doses of vitamin b-3 (in his career he treated over 5,000 patients in this way). He reports that schizoaffective disorder is usually the easiest to treat using this method (among the three: bipolar disorder, schizoaffective, schizophrenia).

If you're seeing a psychiatrist, then most definitely talk to your psychiatrist about this beforehand.

Hopes this helps.
katy steger,thru11615 with thanks, modified 10 Years ago at 4/21/12 1:56 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 4/21/12 1:39 PM

RE: Mental Illness and meditation

Posts: 1740 Join Date: 10/1/11 Recent Posts
Dear Norman G. King,

I do not have this disorder, but I have used the ketogenic diet for myself and coached people through it for various mental ailments (e.g., Parkinson's disease, depression, cancers). It is also pretty damn amazing with some aggressive cancers.

Here is Duke University on the subject:
Nutrition & Metabolism

Schizophrenia, gluten, and low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diets: a case report and review of the literature Bryan D Kraft1 and Eric C Westman*2

Address: 1Department of Medicine, Duke University Medical Center, DUMC Box # 31179, 2301 Erwin Road, Durham, NC 27710, USA and 2Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, Duke University Medical Center, 4020 North Roxboro Street, Durham, NC 27704, USA

Email: Bryan D Kraft - b[redacted]; Eric C Westman* - e[redacted] *
Corresponding author
Published: 26 February 2009 Received: 14 August 2008
Accepted: 26 February 2009

Nutrition & Metabolism 2009, 6:10 doi:10.1186/1743-7075-6-10 This article is available from:

© 2009 Kraft and Westman; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

We report the unexpected resolution of longstanding schizophrenic symptoms after starting a low- carbohydrate, ketogenic diet. After a review of the literature, possible reasons for this include the metabolic consequences from the elimination of gluten from the diet, and the modulation of the disease of schizophrenia at the cellular level.

If you would like some support in doing this I will be happy to post with you daily and you can track symptoms on paper or an excel spread sheet. Do talk with your health care provider about this. I am not a health care provider and just a person who tries things. Ketogenic diets are one of my favorite "first" steps; exercise in conjunction with the KD is superb.

If you have any diabetic condition, then this requires very very close medical supervision, maybe even 24-hour. I am not aware of persons with diabetes type I doing this diet; it may be very dangerous to do this diet for some persons. Do check with your doctor. The diet is getting more attention at universities these days. Oxford is trialing it with Parkinson's these past twlve months. It is consistent in alleviating arthritic pains as far as I can tell. I had back surgery 20 years ago and when I do this diet I have no aches in my back.

The diet mimics fasting because all sugars are removed from the diet. After 2-4 days the brain must tell the body to start converting fat into fuel (because there are no more sugars available to fuel the body's caloric needs).

Less than 20 g of net carbs are consumed per day. "Net" carbs means that you can deduct the fiber grams from the total carbohydrates.

Here's the behavioural progression I see:
Day 1-2: feel about the same

Day 2-3: carvings for anything sugary (bread, potato, etc) come up

Day 4: very grumpy, peak carb cravings; this is the day the liver is drained of the last the body's sugar stores and the brain begins to think it is starving. The body and brain are is not starving, but because the brain is used to getting its energy from carbohydrates, the absence of carbohdrates makes the brain think the body is being starved; meanwhile the person is eating adequate protein and high fats (e.g., eggs grilled in coconut oil). The Eades (MD couple) have a recipe book for this diet.

Day 5: getting easier

Day 6: family and friends usually see an improvement in the perso's behaviour and outlook

Day 7: the person usually reports feeling better (in Parkinson's the diet alleviates PD-induced constipation, for example)

Now the body is largely fueled on 'ketone bodies', energy made from fat. Ketone bodies are shown to have neuroprotective effects (see the work of Mary Newport MD with her husband Steve and his Alzheimer's condition)

I hope this helps.

vHere is the link to the study in Bio Med Central for you and your doctor to consider.

I encourage exercise throughout this week,, always having a protein shake or hard-boiled egg on hand before the exercise and after the exercise to prevent massive energy drop.

I would guess that by Day 8 meditation and mindfulness and life will be a very different experience for you, positive. But I don't know. You would be one of the few persons with schizoaffective disorder testing this.

(Edit: thanks to Gabriel for tipping me off to the KD)
Gabriel S, modified 10 Years ago at 4/21/12 4:11 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 4/21/12 4:11 PM

RE: Mental Illness and meditation

Posts: 28 Join Date: 9/24/10 Recent Posts
Hi Katy,

I'm glad you looked into it... I hope dad's doing fine and enjoying good health.

Norman, in the same vein as what Katy and Cloud suggest, it wouldn't hurt to consider the following articles as well (from a psychiatrist):

Schizophrenia and the Gut

Infections and Schizophrenia Risk

Wheat and Schizophrenia

Magnesium and the Brain

The Meditator, modified 10 Years ago at 4/21/12 7:16 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 4/21/12 7:16 PM

RE: Mental Illness and meditation

Posts: 153 Join Date: 5/16/11 Recent Posts
Hi Norman
if you write that you can not fit in anywhere. I think everyone can fit somewhere. I suppose there are many people who can not smile.
Take care
Bruno Loff, modified 10 Years ago at 4/24/12 10:59 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 4/24/12 10:49 AM

RE: Mental Illness and meditation

Posts: 1094 Join Date: 8/30/09 Recent Posts
Hi Norman,

I think that using meditation to alleviate and maybe cure mental illness lies in the finest tip of the cutting edge, as far as dharma is concerned. The possibilities meditation brings to normal, relatively stable minds, are still far from clear or consensual, and I think people are pretty much in the dark regarding the use of meditation to help with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, etc... there is some promise, but little evidence for (or against) it, and a few quite real risks. I do not know of any "meditation for bipolar disease/schizophrenia" online resource.

If you look for "meditation schizophrenia" in google you will find a few links, including some people who claim having gotten completely rid of schizophrenia through meditation [1]. Perhaps you will profit from looking through those. However it is known that meditation can trigger psychotic episodes, particularly in those people who are prone to that kind of thing [2]. Also, although this might change in the not-too-distant future, currently most psychiatrists will sooner medicate you than show any interest in a meditation-based approach, and if one were to have such a psychotic episode caused by a meditation practice, I expect there will be little hesitation by a psychiatrist in putting one into a mental hospital, with a prescription for anti-psychotic drugs.

I suffer from a bipolar disorder myself, and I have had some success in smoothing the ups and downs using meditation, exercise and energy work, and introspection in general. The gist of it — for me so far — is seeing how the emotional highs are actually unsatisfactory and unpleasant (so that I don't chase after them), how the lows are actually necessary for learning all sorts of stuff, and not as bad as they feel (so that I do not fight them), and how the obsessive commentary running in my head is inaccurate at best, and sometimes completely false (so that I do not blindly believe in what it says).

It is a bumpy ride, as my meditation practice has been the cause of several 2-5 week-long manic periods, plus two powerful, severe, 3 and 6 month long, manic periods, and more depressive periods than I can count. You will find evidence of these in the posts I have made all over the walls of this forum. Balance is hard to come by, but it does seem to get gradually better.

Best of luck,

[1] I found this link very optimistic, though I recommend a degree of skepticism, as some "success stories" I read in there reminded me of my manic phases.

[2] As Cloud A V mentions above, but this has been documented also in the literature, e.g., Walsh R, Roche L. Precipitation of acute psychotic episodes by intensive meditation in individuals with a history of schizophrenia. Am J Psychiatry. 1979 Aug;136(8):1085-6 (link).