Is Lactose Free the Way to Be?

I’ve been conducting a few small experiments and it seems the combination of seroquel and stress/anxiety has rendered me temporarily lactose intolerant.

Thankfully this is something I recognize to be temporary because it has happened before several times. Living with IBS and intense and constant anxiety has often meant that the smallest thing (whether that be stress or chemical) can throw my body completely out of whack. It has happened with stressful jobs I’ve had, antibiotics I’ve taken, medication I’ve tried for acid reflux (which is a little ironic), and as a kid the simple joy or excitement of staying the night at a friend’s house could set it off.

I didn’t understand the connection until I was in my early twenties and in a high-stress job in the fashion industry. I found myself getting exponentially more ill as the job progressed, and when I went to see a doctor (who was by no means a specialist) I was told (without any tests being administered) that I must be gluten intolerant. That diagnosis was all the rage at the time.

I was mortified, because if there is anything I love more than cheese (and it feels a little blasphemous to say this because of how much I love cheese) it is a well crafted donut or beautiful fatty-fat slice of homemade bread.

After nine months of adhering to a strict gluten free diet (and expelling a LOT of tears about having to part ways with most of my favorite foods) it was clear the diet wasn’t helping. I skipped the first doctor and went straight to a specialist, who told me within three minutes of entering his office that I wasn’t gluten intolerant at all.

I left his office and immediately found myself a maple bar straight away.

It appeared at the time that my problem was actually lactose intolerance, but within three months of quitting the high-stress job I had no problems with eating dairy anymore.

Even though this isn’t really new to me, it can be both frustrating and inconvenient to avoid certain foods (especially when they are already in my fridge).

I’ve discovered that many times I can kind of see the problem coming because the first indicator I’ve noticed that something is wrong is that I will suddenly be unable to tolerate caffeine. While I don’t drink much of it (I usually treat myself with a cup of tea here and there) I find that once caffeine begins to wreak havoc on my digestive system, other problems are not far behind.

As I’ve mentioned, this also makes things challenging when trying medications. There have been a handful of psychiatric drugs that I’ve tried that have completely disrupted my digestive system, and unfortunately it appears that seroquel is one of them. At this point I am still taking 25 mg, but I don’t expect things to remain that way for long once I meet with my gastroenterologist.

While cutting down the seroquel from 50 mg to 25 mg did improve a lot of the pain I was experiencing, the other aspects of the digestive problems seem just as prevalent as before. -And even at 25 mg I haven’t felt hungry in six weeks.

The only reason I am waiting to contact my psychiatrist about cutting it out completely is that there may be something the gastroenterologist can do. However, if the only suggestions she has are to put me on one of the drugs that has already had a similar effect on my stomach the decision to eliminate seroquel completely is an easy one.

Though I do also realize that stress is a contributing factor in this situation, having somewhat settled in to my new apartment has helped my external stress level go down a bit. Even though the stress I have been feeling has been reduced slightly, my digestive problems have been getting worse… leaving seroquel to take most of the heat as the culprit here.

I think one of the big factors that people forget about when it comes to treating psychiatric disorders is the fact that many people have other medical conditions that can make them good or bad candidates for certain types of treatment or medications. It is a part of the puzzle regarding why one treatment doesn’t fit all, and I believe it is an element often overlooked when addressing that topic.


2 responses to “Is Lactose Free the Way to Be?

  1. I get where you’re coming from. I also have IBS and the slightest bit of stress/anxiety just sends it off. I tried Seroquel a while back, but it turned my stomach upside down. I’m gluten intolerant 😦 so think of me when you eat doughnuts, and have an extra one for me….. I hope your appetite returns soon and your tummy settles down

  2. Pingback: Complication Damage Control | bi[polar] curious

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