Any/all of this sound familiar?
Early symptoms may include:
Irritable or tense feeling
As the illness continues, the person may have problems with thinking, emotions, and behavior, including:
Problems paying attention
Strongly held beliefs that are not real
Thoughts that “jump” between different topics (“loose associations”)
Hearing or seeing things that are not there (hallucinations)
The condition whose symptoms are listed above is schizophrenia.
What does a serious psychiatric condition have to do with mast cell activation, histamine intolerance and mastocytosis? Very simply – histamine. It’s official – researchers in Finland say that schizophrenic psychosis can be treated with a large dose of antihistamines – H2 receptor blockers (similar to zantac/ranitidine) specifically . While it’s easy to get very carried away jumping to conclusions, we can at this stage say that schizophrenia is either aggravated or caused in part by some kind of histamine involvement. Those of us who have experienced high histamine’s dark side – violent mood swings, temper tantrums, obsessive thinking or irrational fears, can attest to the mind altering effects of what an excess of in other non-mast cell challenged peeps causes nothing but the sniffles.
On a personal level – I’m sad to say that I have at some point experienced all of the aforementioned symptoms.
Irritable or tense: me after a glass of orange juice.
Trouble concentrating: brain fog anyone?
Trouble sleeping: histamine messes with the circadian rhythm. On one end of the scale it can give you never ending insomnia, or put you to sleep for days.
Isolation: my immediate instinct is to dive under the duvet and avoid all contact with the outside world.
Reduced emotion: wanting to crawl out of my skin was often accompanied by an out of body type feeling.
Problems paying attention: seriously? Yes. Big time.
Strongly held beliefs that aren’t real: hmmm, where to start? How about the time I came home to a locked bathroom and became convinced I had disturbed a a burglar who was now locked in there (rather than the door having locked itself as a result of being slammed on my way out). Or the time I was sure that house painters were trying to enter the house at 3am to smoke joints. These two incidents seriously freaked me to the point where I almost called the cops (till I calmed down and common sense prevailed/my histamine level calmed down). Too many weird ones to name.
Thoughts that jump: served me well as a journalist, till I became incapable of stringing sentences together during attacks.
Hearing/seeing things that aren’t there: at times when my histamine was super high I would see things moving out of the corner of my eye, or ghastly faces/ monsters coming out of the dark to get me, or the more benign almost cinema screen like images that would appear just behind my eyelids as I attempted to get to sleep. Even a quick glance at a carpet/curtain pattern would turn into a seriously psychedelic experience. Oh, and let’s not get started on the auditory hallucinations.
An impromptu whip-around of my online groups revealed, once again, that I’m not the only freak in this road show, with many adding their own freaky experiences.
The hallucinations and delusions occurred at times of great stress when I felt what I called “warm brain” which I now associate with a very intense neurotransmitter fluctuation. I have swung from feeling intensely terrifying emotion to feeling nothing at all; almost as if I were watching someone else control my body from afar. Scary stuff that has not been part of my life for years. Interestingly, at the height of my “psychiatric” symptoms (in the run up to the Iraq War while working at CNN) I was given anti-psychotics, just to help me “get some sleep” mind you. Brings to mind the first doc prescribing just a little 0.25mg “baby xanax”. The anti-psychotics turned me into a zombie for two days and promptly found their way into the bin before I was able to convince the doc that xanax would allow me to actually do my job rather than struggle to sit upright to do nothing but drool on myself.
Hopefully for those suffering full blown schizophrenic psychosis the antihistamine treatment will offer a more humane option. In light of this study (and others) I wonder if a diet high in nutrients and antihistamine foods might also offer some relief (as an adjunct to therapy), as outlined in the Anti-Cookbook: High Nutrient Antihistamine & Anti-inflammatory Recipes for Health.
Additional studies on the role of histamine in schizophrenia: