Depression: does it affect you?
As a society, statistics show we are becoming more depressed as time moves on. Why? The American Psychiatric Association (Psychiatry.org) reports that anti-depressant use is on the rise as a way to “treat” depression and related disorders. Five percent or 350 million people worldwide experience depression. In the U.S., 16 million adults or 6.9 percent of the population have had at least one major depressive “episode” since 2012.
Why not take antidepressant drugs?
Seratonin reuptake inhibitors, aka SSRIs and other pharmaceutical drugs designed to treat depression don’t treat the underlying root cause of the disease.Side effects are a concern as well, and can contribute to further health issues:
Side effects of SSRIs (seratonin reuptake inhibitors) including Prozac, Paxil, Lexapro and Zoloft:
- dizziness or confusion
- agitation, feeling nervous or shaky
- digestive challenges including diarrhea, constipation, stomach pain
- loss of sex drive
- appetite loss
Side-effects of antidepressants such as Effexor, Wellbutrin and Cymbalta:
- dry mouth
- heart arrhythmia
- weight gain
- challenges in passing urine
One reason we are becoming more depressed is that our diets lack the nutrient-dense foods our brains and nervous systems need to function optimally. Conventional medical / health sources tell us to avoid traditional fats and consume more grains and plant foods. We are not told to avoid processed, industrially-produced foods which can contain harmful and physiologically-altering chemicals that might contribute to further mental health and depression challenges.
Dr. Weston A. Price, DDS world traveler and researcher and dentist, observed that all traditional populations consuming their native diets experienced robust health, and were largely void of modern diseases including heart disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer, and mental illness including depression and schizophrenia. He recorded his incredible discoveries in his groundbreaking book of research, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.
Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride, author of Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) has written and researched extensively into the impact of the lack of nutrient-dense foods in our modern diets and the impact this has had on the increase of brain and mood disorders including autism, ADD/ADHD, depression, dyspraxia, schizophrenia and others. In her clinical experience, removing processed foods and including nutrient-dense foods such as those consumed by our ancestors that Dr. Weston A. Price talks about in his book have a profound healing effect on the body and enable those experiencing these conditions.
What are modern dietary guidelines doing to our mental state?
Modern dietary recommendations actually further the incidence of depression because they recommend avoiding the very foods which supply cholesterol. Cholesterol is important in the production of seratonin, a critical hormone and neurotransmitter that regulates a variety of functions in the body including memory, mood and behavior.
Dietary and other recommendations for healing from depression and other mental disorders:
- Consume more traditional animal and other fats daily including grassfed and grass-finished meats, pasture-raised poultry and eggs, raw dairy foods from cattle raised on pasture, olive oil, coconut oil and palm oils. Read more about how to source quality foods from local, mindful farmers and questions to ask when selecting. Lack of Vitamin D, found in pastured animal foods, is a contributing factor to depression and other mental illness.
- Consume or sustainable-produced organic fruits, vegetables, legumes, and grains. If you have been consuming grains, consider reducing or eliminating these from your diet unless eaten sparsely and are traditionally prepared via soaking, sprouting and fermenting. Excessive consumption of grains can contribute to chronic health issues. Grains can cause inflammatory conditions in the body when we are already compromised by toxins and nutritional deficiencies from less-than-optimal lifestyle choices, as well as the fact that many grains come from industrial environments where they are hybridized and sprayed with toxic herbicides such as Roundup.
- Avoid processed and packaged foods. Read more here about the health risks of these products. Read more here about the dangers of and how to avoid genetically-modified foods, which are pervasive in our modern food supply.
Sleep deprivation is another contributor to depression and mental illness conditions. When we keep odd hours or don’t get regular sleep, expose our eyes and our brains to electronic devices and screens (computers, phones, etc.), we make it more difficult for our brains to wind down and our bodies to get enough rest and at the optimal times.
It is recommended to go to sleep before 10 p.m. as often as possible. Have a light-free room that is also free from noise and disturbance. Turn off or unplug devices and remove them from the bedroom area, including phones, tablets. Avoid having electronic devices such as stereos, televisions, clocks or other electronic devices that can also cause disturbance in sleep patterns due to the temptation to use them before bed or having them plugged in during the night to emit radiation or other EMF (eletro magnetic frequencies) that can contribute to poor sleep cycles. If possible, turn off or remove routers or modems that would transmit Wifi and other signals during sleep hours. Research shows these can interfere with proper sleep.
Sun exposure is another factor. When we deprive our bodies of Vitamin D, which we manufacture from exposure to the sun’s rays, we are enabling conditions to arise which contribute to chronic diseases of all types, including depression. Regular, moderate exposure to the sun’s rays is recommended to maintain adequate Vitamin D levels and avoid chronic conditions such as depression.