* Most people suffer from depression like symptoms from time to time, and it is usually caused by the ups and downs of life. These symptoms are transitory and usually dissipate within a week or two. However, depression that recurs in a continuous cycle may result in serious consequences for the body, mind and intelligence.
* There are three types of depression:
– Dysthymia – or mild but chronic depression wherein the patient is not totally disabled from participating in life, but none the less does not feel good about themselves or their life. This depression may recur quite regularly.
– Bipolar Disorder – where the patient experiences cycles of depression and elation. This disorder was previously known as manic depression.
– Major Depression – occurs where the patient’s life is totally disrupted by depression. The patient finds it difficult to work, eat, sleep and carry out other daily life activities. This type of depression does not occur as regularly as dysthymia.
* Depression affects about seventeen million Americans, and over twenty-eight million Americans take anxiety or antidepressant drugs today. Depression is twice as likely to occur in women than in men.
* There are many causes of depression ranging from stress to grief, trauma, heavy metal toxicity, changes in the season, illness and other underlying disorders such as hypoglycemia, anemia, thyroid disorders, or brain chemistry imbalances, nutritional or dietary problems, food allergies, genetics, alcohol and drug abuse.
* May include, but are not limited to low self esteem, feelings of inadequacy, boredom, thoughts of suicide, fatigue, lack of self confidence, withdrawal from social activities, procrastination, guilt, anger, no interest in ordinary pleasures or activities, pessimism, irritability, difficulty in concentrating, hopelessness, despair, loss of appetite, sleeping disorder, head and other body aches, digestive problems, restlessness and sadness.
* Quit Smoking – smoking unfavorably alters the levels of chemicals in the brain – it promotes the levels of cortisol and reduces levels of seratonin in the brain, which are both a feature in depression. Smoking also reduces levels of vitamin C, which may also contribute to depression. Smoking is one of the leading contributors to deaths in America. See smoking for information on quitting.
* Food Allergies – are thought to be one of the most common factors in depression. It is important to have food allergies diagnosed and treated appropriately.
* Dietary Changes – diet may be a highly successful way to treat depression.
– Eat a diet high in complex carbohydrates including soy products, vegetables, brown rice and legumes as a diet low in complex carbohydrates can affect chemical levels in the brain.
– Eliminate meat, as it has many negative effects on the body, including a person’s sense of well-being.
– Avoid wheat products, alcohol, caffeine, phenylalanine, aspartame, sugar products, saturated fats, and fried food, as they are known exacerbate or contribute to depression. It is best to eliminate them from your diet and reintroduce them one at a time to see if you are sensitive or allergic to them.
* Exercise – regular exercise improves moods. When you exercise, especially vigorous exercise, the brain releases endorphins and this has an antidepressant effect. Many studies show that exercise can be just as effective as antidepressant drugs.
* Stress Management – stress is thought to be a major factor in depression. Stress leads to high levels of the hormone cortisol (released from the adrenal glands), which leads to depression, insomnia, nervousness, mania and sometimes schizophrenia. Therapies including daily yoga, meditation, acupuncture, massage and aromatherapy help to relieve stress. It is important to address the cause of the stress and therapies such as meditation and counseling may help.
* Cognitive Therapy – is learning to recognize and change negative thought patterns. This helps to change habitual behavioral practices, which may be the cause or a contributing factor to depression.
* Avoid Chemicals – some chemicals such as heavy metals, pesticides and solvents may cause depression amongst other symptoms. If you think you may be affected, please seek testing and the appropriate treatment.
* Avoid Drugs – drugs such as caffeine, alcohol, prescription and recreational drugs may cause or exacerbate depression.
Treatment for depression
* Treatment depends upon the cause of the depression. Some helpful therapies include cognitive behavior therapy, rebalancing the brain chemical levels using natural treatments such as dietary and nutrition therapy, herbal and aromatherapy treatment, stress management, and ruling out other underlying causes of depression. It is recommended to use antidepressant drugs only as a last resort.
VITAMIN B5 – PANTOTHENIC ACID – Helps in metabolism and the nervous system, helps to increase stamina and is used for the treatment of depression and anxiety. It is considered an anti stress vitamin. Natural sources of vitamin B5 include legumes, whole rye flour, wheat, royal jelly, nuts, torula and brewer’s yeast, fresh vegetables and mushrooms. 500 mg daily may help with symptoms of depression.
VITAMIN B6 – PYRIDOXINE – is used in the absorption of vitamin B12 and is used to maintain healthy nervous system and brain function. A deficiency of vitamin B6 may result in depression and fatigue. Natural sources of vitamin B6 include potatoes, alfalfa, carrots, peas, blackstrap molasses, brown rice, soybeans, avocado, plantains, beans, cantaloupe, walnuts, spinach and sunflower seeds. 150 mg daily in divided doses may help. Note that the use of cortisone drugs prevents the absorption of vitamin B6.
VITAMIN B12 – CYANOCOBALAMIN – helps to prevent anemia, used in metabolism, protects nerves and helps to make neurotransmitters used for memory and learning. A deficiency of vitamin B12 may cause depression, fatigue, headaches, moodiness and nervousness. Natural sources of vitamin B12 include milk, dairy products, brewer’s yeast, alfalfa, soy products and seaweed – nori, kombu, kelp and dulse.
VITAMIN C – an anti stress vitamin. Used for healthy adrenal gland function and metabolizes tyrosine and folic acid. Natural sources of vitamin C include citrus fruit, berries, persimmons, paprika, alfalfa, fennel seed, parsley, dandelion greens, kale, pineapple, peppermint, seaweed – dulse and kelp, silverbeet, tomatoes, mangos, papayas, rose hip and water cress. 2,000 – 5,000 mg daily in divided doses may help with symptoms of depression. Do not use more than 5,000 mg daily if pregnant. Use esterified vitamin C if you use aspirin. Large doses of vitamin C may cause diarrhea, may deplete the body of copper and affect the reliability of oral contraceptives.
CHOLINE – is used for transmission of nerve impulses from the brain. A deficiency in choline may lead to memory and brain function problems. Natural sources of choline include legumes, milk, whole grain cereals, soybeans and lecithin. 200 mg daily in divided doses, taken with soy lecithin may help relieve symptoms of depression. Do not take if you suffer bipolar depression.
FOLIC ACID – helps with depression, anxiety, apathy, fatigue, insomnia, paranoia and anemia. Natural sources of folic acid include brewer’s yeast, oranges, root vegetables, whole grains, brown rice, dates, green leafy vegetables and cheese. Do not take folic acid for prolonged periods if you have hormone related cancer or a convulsive disorder.
IRON – used to prevent anemia, nervousness and fatigue, improves energy levels, and is used in red blood cell production, which carries oxygen to the body. Natural sources of iron include lentils, dandelion, lemongrass, peppermint, prunes, dates, avocados, brewer’s yeast, sesame seeds, soybeans, fenugreek, parsley, pumpkin, kelp, peaches, leafy green vegetables, whole grains and blackstrap molasses. Take according to label instructions. To attain optimum absorption, avoid taking iron supplements with food or with the following: zinc, vitamin E, calcium or antacids.
ZINC – used to treat depression. Natural sources of zinc include torula and brewer’s yeast, alfalfa, fennel seed, seaweed – dulse and kelp, soybeans and lecithin, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, mushrooms, legumes, parsley, chamomile pecans and lima beans. 50 mg daily of zinc gluconate lozenges may help with symptoms of depression. Excess zinc intake may cause copper deficiency. For prolonged periods of zinc intake, copper is recommended ie: 30 mg zinc with 2 mg of copper. Do not use more than 100 mg daily as excess zinc may depress the immune system.
BERGAMOT – essential oil. Used for depression and stress in a burner – add 6 drops to a deep dish ceramic burner, filled with filtered water. Bergamot is also used in carrier oil and massaged onto the body. Essential oil should equal three percent of total oil content. A blend of bergamot, sweet orange and clary sage may be used in massage oil or in a warm bath. Add essential oil to the bath after the water has been drawn and agitate the water before getting in. Do not apply before exposure to the sun. Do not use clary sage if pregnant or if drinking alcohol.
GERANIUM – essential oil. Geranium is used for depression in a massage oil, bath or burner, and may be blended with other oils used for depression. If you have sensitive skin, do a patch test before using geranium.
GINKGO, MAIDENHAIR TREE – increases circulation to the brain, and is used for depression and headaches. Use according to label instructions. Take for at least two weeks for optimal result.
GINSENG – Ginseng/Siberian Ginseng. Strengthens the adrenal glands, improves appetite, energy levels and stress and is used to treat depression. Use according to label instructions. Do not use if you have a heart disorder, high blood pressure, or hypoglycemia.
GRAPEFRUIT – essential oil. Used for stress and depression in a burner, bath or massage oil. Grapefruit may be blended with other oils used for depression.
KAVA KAVA – a relaxant used for depression, insomnia and anxiety. Use according to label instructions. Kava may cause drowsiness.
ORANGE – essential oil. Used in massage oil, warm bath or burner for
SANDALWOOD – essential oil. Sandalwood is used in massage oil, burner or in a warm bath for depression, stress and nervous tension. Sandalwood may also be blended with other oils used for depression.
ST JOHNSWORT, ST JOHN’S WORT – used for depression, anxiety, sleep problems, nervousness, sadness and exhaustion. Use according to label instructions and take for a few weeks for optimal result. High doses may cause photosensitivity. Do not use if pregnant or taking antidepressant drugs.
YLANG YLANG – essential oil. Used in a burner, warm bath or massage oil for depression, anxiety, fear, anger and frustration. Ylang ylang may be blended with other oils used for depression.