Believe it or not, what you EAT affects your mood BIG TIME. In fact, some recent studies have shown the elimination of sugar, and starchy carbs lift depression as well or better than drugs…and thank you to Kitchen table medicine for some nice specifics. Indeed, try even this one habit change! Within a day you will be convinced that treating depression naturally is the way to go.
Many people are fast food “addicts”; eating on the run, not even really enjoying the food! Enjoying healthy food is part of treating depression naturally.
Common “pick-me-ups” for those with a depressed mood come from all sorts of transiently mood-upping carbs.
Examples of this include a glazed donut with a coffee, cream, and sugar. The “up” comes from caffeine and then sugar. The high carb content of the donut adds to the “up” because it is a short-term way to increase a happy brain chemical called serotonin.
The problem with eating this way is it actually will end up decreasing happy brain chemicals. As a result, it will cause inflammation in the body which is related to many diseases including heart disease, cancer and yes, depression.
So, get ready to learn how to start treating depression naturally, on your own.
A caution I must insert: if you are experiencing more than transient or mild to moderate depression, please consult your doctor. If you have thoughts of hurting yourself or others, please call 911.
First things first where diet is concerned:
The biggest thing is to take the inflammatory foods OUT of your diet. This means slowly take out sugar, starchy carbs, fast foods, processed foods and you will start to improve all sorts of health parameters, not just your mood. Treating depression naturally usually involves a big time change in your diet.
Many people lose weight without even trying by altering the composition of their diet to anti-inflammatory=anti-aging eating.
There are plenty of articles on this blog about exactly how to eat an anti-inflammatory diet, but most of the rules are in the article linked for you.
Then we really healthy-it-up and add things to decrease oxidative stress, and help your health, not just your mood. In fact, you can directly correlate your health improvement with the ways we are treating depression naturally because they directly parallel each other.
I know you want to lose the mood issues for life, but you also want to live a healthy and long life so I can’t just SKIP these things.
Healthy people tend to be happier people anyway! Let me also emphasize oxidative stress (opposite of the # of fruits and veggies you eat) does indeed worsen depression. Inflammation, which is made worse by being overweight and by eating inflammatory foods, also makes depression worse. Depression is often a cause of unexplainable weight gain. The chicken-egg effect is obvious, isn’t it? Often, supplements we use for depression double as metabolism boosting supplements too.
So, what’s next? Exercise!
Next, if you are a bit depressed, I know you don’t feel much like exercising. However, when your doctor clears you, at least start taking walks. Then, go from there. Move, move, move – any way possible!
Cardio is a good mood-booster, but often it’s hard to push yourself to break a sweat. Lifting weights any way you can (see the ways to weight train article for tons of ways) is often the “way to go” to ease into a nice sweat-breaking routine.
Pictured is our gym-in-a-bag which is the easiest way to accomplish a weight training routine. I like to stress weight training for those who are depressed because much of the time they have gained weight which certainly doesn’t help them feel better about themselves.
If you are not getting deep and restful sleep, then THAT will depress your mood.
I’ll go through the “biggies,” but note that this is crucial for switching out the bad mood for a permanently good mood.
Treating depression naturally requires good sleep.
If you read through what is written below and still need help falling asleep, staying asleep or getting refreshing sleep then, you need to do more. You can search this blog and/or scroll to the footer to get a free copy of my “sleep book” when you’re done reading this.
Remember these things all go hand in hand: energy levels, depression, sleep.
There is even a need for probiotics! It’s true. Your GI microbiome is in charge of many things including your mood!
Make your bedroom “sleep friendly”: How old IS that mattress? Eight years is the average “limit.”
Is it truly comfortable? Are your sheets “high-thread”? Those are a lot softer and more comfortable.
Is the room quiet, low-lit prior to bedtime and then completely dark when you turn out the lights including covering your LED’s?
What about your pillow? When surveyed, a surprising number of people said their pillow was uncomfortable yet did nothing about it. They had no idea how to find a great pillow, so we did all the work for you! In fact, I can get this for you cheaper than you can get it from the manufacturer!
Also, you are NOT using the TV or computer to watch or do work on in bed, right?
No TV or computer use for 2 hours pre-bedtime.
Some people are very sensitive to sunrise and need a sleep mask.
Others have spouses or dogs like mine who snore, so earplugs are in order.
Silicone earplugs work best. I know this from personal experience.
Some people are highly caffeine sensitive and need to stop that by noon.
Digestion should occur 2-plus hours before bed and should not be a “heavy” dinner.
Alcohol is tempting to use as a sleep aid, but it actually reduces REM sleep and should be avoided for a good 2-plus hours pre-bedtime.
Exercise can inhibit “sleep initiation” and should be completed 4 hours pre-bedtime. By this time, I HOPE any smokers reading this have stopped, as nicotine will seriously upset sleep patterns.
Being stressed can raise cortisol and adrenaline which can then impair sleep initiation. It can make you wake up in the middle of the night and make your sleep unrefreshed. If energy is starting to go down this might be the start of “adrenal fatigue,” so please check the blog if you need to!
Tense situations can cause stress which can definitely exacerbate depression and anxiety. Examine your life. You can usually spot the problem areas yourself. Here are some breathing techniques to stop symptoms, but this is obviously not enough.
You need to become more “stress resistant, ” and it’s all learn-able. It is a crucial way to balance your mood and a large part of treating depression naturally.
How to become more resistant to stress: the basics
I guarantee you are not stress-resistant enough if you are experiencing mood issues. When you take two groups of people: one who tends to get sick and depressed vs. those who tend NOT to get sick and depressed here are the facts: The people who report little illness or mood issues tend to maintain reasonable personal control in their lives.
If a problem comes up, they look for resources. They might read or look on the internet to find and then try a solution. If the first one doesn’t work, they try another.
People who report being frequently ill or depressed are more likely to approach problems passively.
For instance, they leave it to a spouse to discipline the children or decide where they will go on a weekend evening.
They might, for instance, be uncomfortable about speaking to the boss when something is wrong at work.
Those with the least illness do, of course, have stronger immune systems, but that is because they control their cortisol levels.
These people personally commit to a goal of some kind.
The goal might be completing a college career, being a better parent, or engaging in a hobby.
These people spend 4 – 6 hours out of the 168 hrs in a “normal” week doing something that provides a sense of challenge and enhances their sense of the “meaningfulness” of life.
It isn’t that everything goes well for them during these hours, but rather that the activity has personal significance to them.
Take life by the reins
The bottom line is you need to “get control” of what’s going on in and around your life. If you need a therapist’s help, go for it! An anxiety and depression free life should be everyone’s “reward” for putting up with all the hassles we put up with so do what you need to do.
Decide to be happy!
Engage with people and pets!
Celebrate everything and everyone especially yourself!
Have a great support system and if you don’t have one, make one!
My “secret sauce” kicks in immediately!
Not enough doctors, even smart Anti aging doctors, are versed in brain chemistry well enough to treat anxiety and depression (not bipolar) with brain supplements.
Most people simply don’t know what is going on with the brain so I’ll make this as simple as I can.
We are emotionally ruled by brain chemicals called neurotransmitters.
They are released mainly by neurons (special brain cells), and some people have less of what they need.
Others have enough, but the chemicals don’t stay around in the brain long enough. Both situations cause deficiency states which have their own set of symptoms. Acetyl-choline is a neurotransmitter involved in cognition (thinking) and neural transmission speed (how quickly we retrieve information mentally).
It can be affected adversely when we are depressed. In fact, many people report short term memory loss when they are in a state of depression. The adrenal glands produce Epinephrine and too much causes anxiety.
Serotonin is a happy neurotransmitter as is dopamine and nor-epinephrine. We are all 100% affected by our neurotransmitters!
Anti-depressant drugs: (But do NOT stop any drugs without consulting your doctor, please!)
Most of the time all these blasted drugs are doing is inhibiting your ability to make your OWN neurotransmitters and numbing you out, perhaps relieving a little depression.
Again, everyone is different. When I work with AWS annual consultation members on anti-depressants, I make sure they are also working WITH their doctors. I DO believe in treating depression naturally, but some people need pharmaceuticals.
With patients and members, I use a questionnaire (see HOME/Mood Self-Assessment Questionnaire) and a conversation to determine which brain chemicals are low.
I used to do 24-hour urine tests, but I have been doing this for so long it is usually unnecessary.
Serotonin, the happy neurotransmitter is needed for proper sleep.
Serotonin’s necessary to maintain a state of non-depression.
It’s also necessary to avoid constipation.
It is important for memory consolidation too. Too little of this is associated with a higher chance of getting Alzheimer’s disease. It is needed for appetite and cravings control. Note with low levels of it, minor pains feels like major pains.
You are now aware people with fibromyalgia are low on serotonin. This makes natural serotonin replacement (we’ll talk about how) a great fibromyalgia natural treatment. I’m mentioning this here because there is a significant amount of mild to moderate depression that affects those with painful fibromyalgia.
Now, the other major mood neurotransmitter: dopamine. You need it for everything. It’s especially essential to avoid addictions and cravings for toxic things such as cigarettes, drugs, and excessive alcohol. When you are deficient, you might have anger issues stemming from depression or anger masking depression.
Of course nor-epinephrine plays a role, too, so I balance that as well. Isn’t it amazing that we can achieve better “happiness results” with the elevation of happy brain chemicals by treating depression naturally? Now you know!
Treating depression naturally – the final step=supplements
The ONLY things for treating depression naturally that are perfectly safe, even if you are on other anti-depressants, is L-tyrosine and SAMe.
PharmaGABA is safe too. Specifically, that’s the anti-anxiety one.
You CAN take 4 SAMe’s and 2-4 L-tyrosines each breakfast and dinner to start increasing your dopamine (if NOT manic-depressive), and nor-epinephrine.
If you are NOT manic-depressive and not on anti-depressants, we can also add the supplement to increase serotonin.
However, this is a little tricky, and I prefer you let me guide you.
Basically, if you take too much during the day, you’ll get sleepy. If you take too much at bedtime, it can give you lower GI cramping and loose stools.
I’ll give you the guidelines on what to do and just be careful, okay?
You can take 100-200 mg of 5-HTP 3x/day and at night start with 400 mg. You may then up by 100 mg per night until you are sleeping, feeling great and NOT having GI side effects.