As you read this post Mental Health Awareness week has finished but the battle that is depression goes on for many people.
Commonly Depression is treated with drugs that flood the brain with serotonin. While it is important to address depression, there have not been scientific studies that show that this drug therapy really works, and in fact, a number of experiments where the serotonin levels in the brain were greatly increased, failed.
However, there are other methods that can be used to help relieve depression.
- A therapist can help you with new ways to look at yourself and your life.
- Adequate sleep makes you less susceptible to the negative messages that seem to swamp you. (I’ll write more about good sleep habits in a later post).
- Exercise three times a week, difficult though it always is to get motivated, always helps lift your mood by altering brain chemistry. It doesn’t have to be at the gym as walking is always good and yoga is great too.
- Structure helps, so getting into a routine is a good idea.
- Keeping in touch with other people who love and support you is worth heaps, and if you can’t do that, then just getting out and being around people, anyone, will help. Even better if they have a laugh with you.
- Getting lots of sunshine is also good as natural light has been proven as a cure for depression.
- There are also lots of mood boosting supplements, like maca, that will help.
Food For Depression
Another major way of fighting depression is through good nutrition, even though because of the depression you may not be feeling hungry.
Preparing and eating a meal might seem pointless but not only do the nutrients contribute to lifting your depression, it will also help you avoid the junk foods that make your depression worse. Don’t even buy or store sugary or salty snacks in your cupboards – it is far better to have simple healthy foods that don’t need lots of preparation to use when you find you are simply not able to face meal preparation.Foods like coffee, meat, alcohol and fatty or fast foods can actually make you feel more depressed and you will feel a lot different if you avoid them.
It really is a case of “you are what you eat”, bad foods make you feel worse and good healthy foods make you feel better.
Top foods to fight depression
1. Fish Oils:
Yes this is another benefit of fish oils as the right kind of fish contain lots of omega-3 fatty acids, often lacking in depressed people. One study showed that taking just one gram of fish oil each day made a 50% difference in symptoms like anxiety, sleep problems, feelings of sadness, decreased sex drive and suicidal thoughts. You can also get omega-3’s through eating other foods including walnuts, flaxseed oil, or chia seeds. Oily fish include sardines, tuna, wild-caught salmon, gemfish plus others.
2. Brown Rice:
A great high-fibre food, brown rice contains lots of Vitamin B, B1, B3 and folic acid, plus lots of trace minerals which you need to function properly. It is also low-glycaemic, releasing glucose into the bloodstream slowly to prevent mood swings due to sugar-lows. You need to avoid any “instant” or “quick-cook” varieties because they don’t have any of these benefits.
3. Brewer’s Yeast:
The “darling food” of the 70’s, brewers yeast also contains B Vitamins (B1, B2 and B3). Don’t take this if your yeast tolerance is not great, but otherwise get your daily dose by mixing a thimbleful into a smoothie. It has heaps of vitamins and minerals in a small package, including amino acids which are great for the nervous system, and awesome for dealing with depression
4. Whole-grain Oats:
Again, you can’t use “instant” or “quick cook” oat varieties as they won’t help. With heaps of B vitamins (folic acid, pantothenic acid, B6 and B1) wholegrain oats help lower cholesterol, soothe the digestive tract and help prevent “sugar crashes,” so they assist with crabby moods and mood swings.
With Vitamin C and folic acid cabbage protects against stress, infection and heart disease as well as lots of cancers (American Assoc for Cancer Research). There are lots of ways to eat it apart from boiled into a nasty mess – try it tossed in a salad or a wrap instead of lettuce, perfect in a stir fry, in a cabbage soup or just juice it. If you have trouble digesting cabbage add some fennel, caraway or cumin seeds before cooking. Or you could drink these spices in a non-caffeinated tea.
6. Other Foods
There are also a few other foods worth a mention here.
- Grains like quinoa, kamut or spelt are better choices than refined grains like white wheat flour. Wholegrains are one great place to find the B vitamins which help improve your mood.
- Foods like raw cacao (not a block of milk chocolate!), dark molasses and brazil nuts, which are high in selenium, are also great depression eliminators
- Make sure your diet is loaded up with fruit and vegetables which will provide lots of vitamins and minerals to help lift the clouds that surround you. And remember that there is a big difference between both the amounts, and the quality, of the nutrients in organic and commercially grown produce. Organic foods have significantly higher levels of the nutrients you need than are found in commercially grown crops.
- It is pretty important to try and keep your blood sugar levels stable and also to get enough B vitamins when you are feeling depressed. Avoiding sugar altogether helps stop blood sugar spikes and dips.
In the end it is important to remember that depression does not last, it is a transient phenomena and will pass. In the meantime take the decision to be proactive and make the changes you need to make to move on. Even just setting this goal is the first step in moving forward.
All information and opinions presented here are for information only and are not intended as a substitute for professional advice offered during a consultation. Please consult with your health care provider before trying any of the treatment suggested on this site.
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© Catherine Bullard and Happy Holistic Health, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Catherine Bullard and Happy Holistic Health with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.