For many years I have watched as friends of mine suffered through depression and wondered if there was any relief for them? My friends who are depression sufferers have told me that there is no cure. Their doctors convinced my depression-suffering friends that the only way to relief for depression is medication. I still did not believe only medication is the answer, so I turned to research to find answers for my friends.
I found that the key to relief from depression is nutrition. Although nutrition has been twisted and confused on what it is or how it is applied to those who suffer from depression. I feel like there is no substitute for infusing the body with proper nutrients, however one might argue, can we get proper nutrition from our foods?
Receiving proper nutrients from food is a topic still open for much debate. For this post I am moving in the direction that when I speak of nutrients and food, that these foods I speak of are the best food items we can get on the market or from farmers markets.
You may be asking, what is it like to experience depression and why is it so hard to treat?
Dr. Andrew Weil weights in on this condition. Depression is one of the most common types of mental disorders, affecting about 340 million people worldwide. Interestingly, about half of all cases of depression go undiagnosed and untreated, yet depression is the most treatable form of mental illness. Depression occurs in all age groups, social classes and cultures. It is far more common in women, affecting 25 percent of women versus about 10 percent of men. Additionally, depression also affects one out of every 20 teenagers.
It is very important to make a distinction between situational depression, which is a normal reaction to events around us, and clinical (also called endogenous) depression, which is triggered from within and is not related to external situations. Situational depression is quite common and normally follows stressful situations or losses. Rather than suppress these feelings, it is best to work through these periods with help from psychotherapists or counselors. Clinical depression is a medical diagnosis and often requires other forms of depression treatment.
So back to the question, can depression be treated naturally? Being depressed can make one feel helpless. Many articles speak to getting therapy and go on medication. These suggestions however good they might be still don’t feed the body. I have believed for years that if you feed the body, your body will then heal itself and push away feelings of illness. Depression is a full body illness and cannot be simply treated with actions, therapy, and medication, alone. We need to approach this condition in a whole cycle.
A study was done in where school breakfast and lunches were studied. The researchers of this study found the foods presented for meals being processed foods, lacking the proper nutrients needed for cognitive study and energy to make it through the school day. Other studies lead to these school foods leading students to obesity. When given nutrients rich foods, the results were nothing short of amazing! Students responded better than peers who ate the processed foods. The food being nutrient rich improved the students’ moods, behaviors and gave better focus.
With this nutrient rich model in mind, how much more could nutrients have on depression?
Dr. Andrew Weil weights in on this topic of using nutrients to treat depression!
Nutrition and Supplements
• B vitamins. The B vitamins, especially folic acid and vitamin B6, can be helpful in mild depression, and you should know that B vitamins can increase the efficacy of prescription anti-depressants.
• St. John’s wort. St. John’s wort is an herbal remedy that has long been used in Europe as a treatment for mood disorders. Standardized extracts have shown an effectiveness equaling Prozac in the treatment of mild to moderate forms of the disease. It should not be taken with anti-retroviral medications, birth control pills, or antidepressant medications, especially SSRIs like Prozac or Celexa. Try 300mg of an extract standardized to 0.3 percent hypericin, three times a day. It’s full effect will be felt in about eight weeks.
• SAMe (S-adenosy-L-methionine). Has the advantage of working more quickly than St John’s wort. Use only the butanedisulfonate form in enteric-coated tablets, or in capsules. Try 400-1,600 mg a day on an empty stomach.
• Fish oil. Recent preliminary studies suggest that omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil may be helpful in maintaining a healthy mind. I think that reasonable doses of fish-oil supplements (1,000 – 2,000 mg per day) might be useful in addressing mild depression. Fish oil is an excellent source of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an essential fatty acid found in nerve and brain tissue.
• In addition, follow a well-balanced diet and include an antioxidant multi-vitamin/mineral supplement to ensure you are meeting your nutritional needs for all the essential nutrients.
Great words from Dr. Andrew Weil! I agree that eating healthy is an important key to assisting in being free of depression. There is no magic diet that fixes depression. It’s a good idea to watch what you eat, though. If depression tends to make you overeat, getting in control of your eating will help you feel better. Although nothing is definitive, there’s evidence that foods with omega-3 fatty acids (such as salmon and tuna) and folic acid (such as spinach and avocado) could help ease depression.
It is also said to get into some form of routine. Depression can strip away the structure from your life. One day melts into the next. Setting a gentle daily schedule can help you get back on track. When you’re depressed, you may feel like you can’t accomplish anything. Not feeling like anything can be accomplished makes you feel worse about yourself. To push back, set daily goals for yourself.
Start very small, and make your goal something that you can succeed at, like doing the dishes every other day. As you start to feel better, you can add more challenging daily goals.
Exercise temporarily boosts feel-good chemicals called endorphins. It may also have long-term benefits for people with depression. Regular exercise seems to encourage the brain to rewire itself in positive ways. How much exercise do you need? You don’t need to run marathons to get a benefit. Just walking a few times a week can help.
Different forms of exercise can lower stress, relax you, and help reduce symptoms of depression. Exercise can also increase your energy, balance, and flexibility. In general, exercise is a safe, effective, and easy way to improve your wellbeing. From aerobic and cardio exercises, Strength training, yoga, Tai Chi, running, walking, or trampoline! Check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program.
Getting enough sleep is crucial. Depression can make it hard to get enough shut-eye, and too little sleep can make depression worse. Start making some changes to your lifestyle. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day. Try not to nap. Take all the distractions out of your bedroom — no computer and no TV. In time, you may find your sleep improves.
Take on responsibilities. When you’re depressed, you may want to pull back from life and give up your responsibilities at home and at work. Instead, staying involved and having daily responsibilities can help you maintain a lifestyle that can help counter depression. They ground you and give you a sense of accomplishment.
If you’re not up to full-time school or work, then think about going to a part-time schedule. If that seems like too much, consider getting involved in volunteer work.
Challenge negative thoughts. In your fight against depression, a lot of the work is mental — changing how you think. When you’re depressed, you leap to the worst possible conclusions. The next time you’re feeling terrible about yourself, use logic as a natural depression treatment.
You might feel like no one likes you, but is there real evidence for that? You might feel like the most worthless person on the planet, but is that really likely? It takes practice, but in time you can beat back those negative thoughts before they get out of control.
Do something new to you. When you’re depressed, you’re in a rut. Push yourself to do something different. Go to a museum. Pick up a used book and read it on a park bench. Volunteer at a soup kitchen. Take a language class. “When we challenge ourselves to do something different, there are chemical changes in the brain! “
Trying something new alters the levels of the brain chemical called dopamine, which is associated with pleasure, enjoyment, and learning. Allow yourself to have fun. If you’re depressed, make time for things you enjoy. What if nothing seems fun anymore? “That’s just a symptom of depression,” You have to keep trying anyway.
So there is a lot of information to take from this post. Keeping in mind, every person works differently so what works for one may not work for another, however that is why experimenting and experiencing with your life is a key factor in finding relief from depression and enjoying life to our fullest! Again, Check with your doctor before embarking in this Journey!
Thank you for reading!
Neil Saint Angeland
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These statements have not been evaluated by, the US Food and Drug Administration. Eniva Health products do not treat, reduce, cure or prevent disease. Proper weight management should be accomplished with a good diet and exercise. Eniva Health supplements are meant to assist the body’s efforts in weight management and do not guarantee weight loss. Consult your health care provider before starting a supplementation program.