A talk I did in January of this year "Dealing with Depression" hit home with many; whether you suffer its affects, or a family member or a friend does, everyone feels the pain of depression.
Notes from the Dealing with Depression Talk/Presentation
Symptoms of Depression
Some Causes of Depression
Situational depression (loss of job, death, relationship ends, etc.), meds, drug use, PMS, cancer, MS, Parkinson’s Disease, RA, any limiting or degenerative disease, vitamin B-12 or B-6 deficiency, and heredity.
The longer a person stuffs his emotions and doesn’t deal with the root cause of the depression, the harder and longer the later recovery will be, and at a very high cost—lost years. Every decision you make is based on your current way of thinking and mindset. Your life will take shape and direction from this starting point. You may not like where you are in two, five, or even ten years if you make decisions built on your current emotional state. These are all things to consider.
Depression is caused by many known factors, many at the same time. A counselor will help you to determine whether negative incidents led to the present situation, or a chemical imbalance is the culprit. Many times both are to blame. Allergies to chemicals, medications (some medications create nutrient deficiencies), or even foods can cause a depressed state. A safe area to start change is your diet. Eating a healthy, well-balanced, and well-varied diet is never a waste of time or effort. You may even feel improvement immediately.
The problem isn’t only tooth decay and empty calories; sugar is like a drug in the bloodstream. The sugar high is all too short and followed by a crash that leaves you lower than when you started. It’s a false energy boost. Sugars can be addictive, making depression worse because of the struggle to overcome the need to have more of it, and the inevitable increased intake of sugars and starches.
Simple carbohydrates (such as pasta, snack chips, cakes, candy, and even breads) break down quickly in the digestive system and rush into the bloodstream, where the brain is affected first. Remember that false energy boost? After your energy and emotions have been on a roller coaster ride, the offending “sugar” now imbalances mineral levels (especially calcium-which also could contribute to insomnia), dissolves B vitamins (which are especially necessary for nerve health), depresses the immune system, exhausts the pancreas, and contributes to weight gain. It also plays a negative role in diabetes, hypoglycemia, heart disease, cholesterol levels, nearsightedness, and indigestion.
Nutrient deficiencies throw the body out of balance. The body’s chief role is to survive and seek balance. Each day humans are met with an onslaught of toxins, radiation, processed and refined foods (virtually devoid of nutrition), chemicals, hormones, antibiotics, viruses, bacteria, and so on. Some are greeted in the air we breathe, water we drink, and from out-gases in our buildings (homes included), but many are eaten by way of the standard American diet (S.A.D.); such disruptions to health imbalance us. Simple changes (over time) in our way of eating can relieve, and even reverse many health concerns.
A short list of foods high in fiber, EFAs (essential fatty acids), vitamins & minerals, and enzymes (notably for brain health):
Brown rice, wheat germ, tofu, tempeh, beans, almonds, sunflower & pumpkin seeds, walnuts (particularly for prevention of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease), sea vegetables (nori, kelp, etc.), oranges (and other citrus), apples, and sprouts.
A fresh salad of raw veggies (baby spinach, red peppers, onions, carrots, cucumbers, seeds, sprouts, fresh herbs) and an outrageous dressing added daily is a great start to any healthy beginning. Soy yogurt withwheat germ and fresh fruit makes a satisfying breakfast. Snacks of seeds and nuts (not salted & roasted— raw only), or fresh fruit are a better alternative than dangerous packaged snacks.
Half the brain’s weight is essential fatty acid. A low-fat diet, or an over-processed one, is lacking EFAs.
Enzymes are necessary for every function of the body. They are replenished by eating fresh foods. Cooked (and heated foods) are dead. The enzymes are lost, the first to die when cooking food. The secret is to eat fresh, raw fruits and vegetables whenever possible.
NOTE: Food coloring and preservatives are known carcinogens (cancer-causing). They also may contribute to frequent headaches and mood swings (as well as other maladies).
- Water is an important nutrient to the body. Six to eight glasses of pure water daily are necessary for proper hydration, waste removal, and organ function.
- Sunlight contributes to a healthy mind and body. At least fifteen minutes a day is necessary for the body to synthesize vitamin D (used with vitamin A to utilize calcium).
- Exercise promotes fluid movement and drainage in the lymphatic and elimination system, oxygenates the blood, sparks the digestive system, curbs the appetite, and releases endorphins (happy hormones)—among other things.
- Yoga, T’ai Chi, Karate, and Pilates are forms of exercise that truly serve the participant. They offer more than simple exercise. They have time-tested benefits of relaxation, discipline, peace, and calmness.
- Hypnotherapy, biofeedback, and acupuncture offer additional methods of relaxation. Learning deep relaxation has helped some people to overcome chronic depression, in conjunction with lifestyle changes.
- Adequate sleep is crucial to overall good health. Eight hours a night allows your body to not only rest, but to heal. Your body heals when you sleep! Depression can make sleeping a challenge and lack of sleep can worsen depression.
A list of foods to avoid (negative effects on mood and overall health):
A list of supplements that are rich in enzymes, EFAs, amino acids (protein), vitamins, and minerals:
- Blue-green algae
- Chlorella and spirulina
- Barley, wheat, and alfalfa (grasses)
- Royal Jelly— (from bees-not vegan) a powerhouse of B vitamins, the eight essential amino acids, and more.
- Probiotics— beneficial microorganisms –necessary to intestinal health for proper nutrient assimilation and elimination of wastes. Also, needed for manufacturing a few B vitamins.
- Fish oil—Omega-3 fatty acid is an important nutrient to the body but especially the brain (helpful in depression and assisting anti-depressants to do their jobs better). Fish oil is the better form of Omega-3 (compared to flax seed oil) for depression.
Toxic Colon = Toxic Brain
Highly refined and processed foods (white flour, pastas, etc.) form a type of sludge in the colon. When fiber (whole foods, vegetables, grains, beans) is absent from the diet, or insufficient, the wastes are not moved through the colon, and the elimination passage narrows. Animal products also “gunk” up the colon. Foods that are left behind putrefy (causing a noxious odor when passed as gas), and then petrify (forming desiccated pebbles). Nutrients are unable to be assimilated because of these obstructions. Increased nutrients will not help, as they will not be properly absorbed.
Lifestyle choices that benefit mental health:Exercise, sunlight, fresh air, proper diet, adequate hydration, laughter, love, interdependent relationships, spiritual peace and practice, friendships that encourage and support, enjoyable work and interests, doing for others (service), smiling, joint projects or tasks with others, uplifting music, involvement in movements or ministries that matter to you or to someone you care about, playing/petting animals, visiting nursing homes, singing, writing/journaling, art (painting, drawing,carving), playing/learning an instrument, crossword puzzles, game night with people who are a hoot, and anything else that makes you awesome!
- Bach’s Rescue Remedy-especially good to calm high anxiety, sullen mood, and aid in depression
- B-Complex Vitamins-nourish the nervous system and calm the body and mind; they also improve the efficacy of prescription anti-depressants.
SAMe (S-adenosy-L-methionine): Has the advantage of working morequickly 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.
I cannot stress the need for lifestyle change and the addition of counseling or group therapy enough! Keeping silent and being isolated will not improve your condition. Depression doesn’t just disappear, or go away. You may find as you work through your depression that you discover many wonderful things about yourself.
The world is waiting…