Depression, even the word evokes deep feelings. Depression is one of those illnesses that can be hard to pin down - it's not like having a broken arm which is easy to define and treat.
Depression affects the whole body; it involves the body, nervous system, moods, thoughts and behavior. It affects the way you eat and sleep, the way you feel about yourself, and the way you react to and think about the people and things around you. Symptoms can last for 1-2 weeks, several months or years. There are a number of types of depression, and each has variations in symptoms, the severity of the symptoms, and the persistence - sadness, postpartum, premenstrual, bipolar, manic, and unipolar, to name a few.
People who are depressed tend to withdraw from their world. Interests in the things around them are lost, and they are unable to experience pleasure. Symptoms typically include chronic fatigue, sleep disturbances (insomnia or too much sleep), appetite changes, body aches and pains, digestive problems, irritability, hot temper, and feeling worthless or inadequate. Many depressed people consider suicide.
Even with today's advanced technology, the causes of depression are not well known. Depression may be caused by stress, chemical imbalances in the brain, thyroid disorders, nutritional deficiencies, illnesses, some medications, lack of exercise, to name a few. Drug management of depression is common, using SSRIĂs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), Tricyclic Antidepressants, Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors, lithium and others.
Appropriate drug therapy in combination with psychotherapy is effective in treating many patients with ˘significant÷ depression. For those individuals who are clinically depressed, medical help is essential to provide relief. Common side effects of these drugs are varied, including hypo/hypertension, numbness, tingling in the extremities, dry mouth, skin rash, constipation, weight gain or loss, headache, and fatigue to name a few.
Clinical depression basically means a person needs drug intervention to break the cycle. Two of the most common causes of mild depression are nutritional deficiencies and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). For people who experience depression in a milder form, nature has many ways to help.
Foods greatly influence the behavior of the brain. A poor diet, especially eating junk food on a regular basis, is a common ˘cause÷ of depression. I use the term ˘cause÷ loosely here because, truly, a lack of critical nutrients can cause the body NOT to produce vital neurotransmitters. So it'ss not the junk food itself that causes depression, it is the lack of nutrients.
Feeding the brain to produce adequate amounts of brain neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine is the
critical link to prevention of mild depression. Feeding the brain is a misnomer because, obviously, we cannot send specific nutrients to the brain exclusively. So feeding the whole body is the focus. Maintaining homeostasis within oneself is the key for avoiding depression and reaching optimal wellness.
Recommendations: Every day, eat a diet high in raw fruits and vegetables and high quality protein. The regular addition of adequate amounts of vitamins, minerals and proteins to your body are essential for good health. (A little known fact: If you do not eat adequate protein to provide for its daily needs, your body will begin to break down its own muscle tissue as a protein source!) Include a high quality soy protein powder product to supplement your protein intake.
Soy powder gives you protein value without animal fat. Depending on your body size and activity level, you need between 45-80 grams of protein a day. Complex carbohydrates (from whole fruits and vegetables and whole grains) contain tryptophan, which increases the amount of serotonin made by the brain. Serotonin has a calming effect. High quality proteins (especially from soy) promote the production of dopamine and norepinephrine, which promote alertness.
Begin a high quality food supplement regimen. Supplementing is no longer an option. It is not possible to get adequate amounts of all the vital nutrients we need to reach and maintain optimal wellness from the food that we eat. Using whole food nutritional supplements provides nutritional insurance. They are a guaranteed supply of essential nutrients on a regular basis in a convenient form.
- Avoid sugar, alcohol, caffeine and processed foods.
- Keep your mind active.
- Get plenty of rest and regular exercise.
- Avoid stress.
- Avoid negative thinking and negative thinkers.
Herbal therapy can be helpful in alleviating mild depression. However, it is my opinion that one must address basic nutritional needs of vitamins, minerals and proteins before attempting to use herbs.
If we ignore the basic nutritional needs of the body and, instead, take herbs, in this case for depression, it is the same as taking a drug. Instead of remedying the underlying cause of the problem, drugs often work to alleviate the symptoms only. This is a short- term solution.
Many people have overcome depression simply by changing their eating habits, alleviating stress and adding whole food nutritional supplements to their diet.
(For information about how to set up a nutritional program for you or a friend or a family member, please email Dr. B at firstname.lastname@example.org. Consultations are free.)