Depression Solutions

Depression can be like a silent passenger in life

This week I am taking a moment to talk about something serious.  This subject is often a chronic illness on its own; but when you suffer from any other chronic illness, you are statistically likely to deal with this as a symptom of the bigger picture. Those with chronic illness are also more likely to have childhood trauma.  Dealing with that trauma and the related present-day manifestations of those issues is a root cause all by itself.  But it can both lead to and be aggravated by the chemistry of our own body and environment.  Our body chemistry can develop in response to this trauma as our brains, especially developing ones, are rewired by the events in our lives.  The depression and anxiety from these events then  often leads to lifestyle that is not supportive of breaking the cycle of depression.  This is not our fault.  Our body was designed to both seek the path of least resistance and also to comfort itself for the sake of survival.  And let’s face it: The world is a crazy place.  That alone makes breaking the cycle challenging, to say the least.  Even if you don’t have a trauma from your childhood to add to your foundational make-up, you may still deal with depression and/or other chronic illness.

Depression can be a touchy subject.  We are so programmed to believe that we cannot change depression: both by the depression’s voice and also by society’s insistence that you cannot change your brain chemistry (or any health condition).  If you believe that you cannot change it, then this article is not for you.  If you want to believe it or do believe it, then keep reading. I encourage you to find a health care practitioner(s) who will be supportive of your desire to find root causes, heal and address these causes and experiment with techniques and habits that may help you to rewire your brain and break the cycle.  It is not a simple one size fits all quest; It is not a simple one and done solution and then you are done (not for most, anyway).  Depression is often what we call a mosaic disease (as are most chronic illnesses), meaning there is often a “perfect storm” of attributing factors.  For this reason, I apologize now if this article is a bit on the long side.  But I didn’t feel like this subject was really a “part one and two” kind of subject.  I also didn’t want to leave anything important out of the discussion; I felt that was disrespectful to the people who deal with this.

“Bio=hacking” is a term used that means that you investigate your own body, its chemistry and its unique history and then apply that knowledge and gathered research to manipulate your body to get any desired result.  Bio-hacking your depression is an example of that.  This means that you will either research, test or experiment to figure out your biochemistry: what chemicals are not balanced and why they are not in the amount and balance desired.  You then experiment with available stimuli (like nutritional supplements or medicinal herbs, dietary and lifestyle changes, and other various techniques like biofeedback or meditation) to manipulate your body into putting things into balance.  You keep what works and move on when it does not work, often looking for the next clue or stimulus.  Because of the nature and seriousness of adverse side effects, I highly suggest enlisting holistic healthcare professionals to help you lead this experiment, especially when using medicinal herbs or nutritional supplements. Some things may not work or even have adverse side effects or consequences.  For example, my functional medicine doctor was able to guide me the best nutritional supplement for my body; she warned me that the other option may not be suitable for me because of my tendency towards anxiety.  As a result, I tried the one and it worked as a replacement for my prescription anti-depressant but with less side effects, long-term consequences and better results.  I was more comfortable with this solution. I felt more “me” and true to my beliefs. But before you get to the point of finding all your solutions, you must first figure out your body’s root causes.  So let’s take a look at some possibilities that may help you find the root cause of this silent passenger. Quick note: there are a few affiliate links below for your convenience to help you find resources that may help you.  For my full disclosure policy, please click here.

For some, medicinal herbs can be helpful in treating their depression.

Possible Root Causes

Our great grandparents didn’t have depression like we do.  They got down or anxious when things got tough, but there was not the epidemic of depression as we know it in our modern society.  A few reasons why: They ate whole, unprocessed foods that were not chemically altered or treated.  To them- a pesticide meant friendly pests, something from their kitchen that the bugs didn’t like, or planting things together that chased off the other plant’s pests.  An herbicide was usually something like vinegar and tobacco protected their peppers from bugs.  They also rotated their crops, grass fed their cows, and the only processed foods they would buy is a limited amount of flour and sugar and coffee (2 out of 3 of those foods have changed drastically since those times due to American farming “innovations”).  They spent more time outside, got more exercise and made all their foods from their garden or neighbor’s farm. This meant that they had less toxins in their body (toxins cause inflammation- and in the brain or nervous system this means dysfunction) (5).  Modern, man-made chemicals  (like pesticides) also damage the gut microbiome where many of our hormones and neurotransmitters, including serotonin, are made. ( This stress can damage the vagal nerve which is integral in our body’s managing its fight or flight regulation, digestion, gut health and the ability to absorb nutrients. (1)

Rotating their crops prevented the soil from being depleted and in modern times we have depleted our soil of important nutrients that are supposed to go into the food that comes out of this soil.  As a result, it has made it challenging to get enough nutrients in our diet, even when the diet is impeccable.

Eating whole foods meant that they didn’t have foods that were “low fat”; sugar and calorie free “food” have led to modern products that are devoid of important essential fatty acids and filled with processed chemical based ingredients.  Fat is necessary for every cell in your body and protects your nerves and brain (4, 7).  Without adequate necessary fats found in grass fed and pastured meats, wild fish, leafy greens, wild and foraged foods, and garden vegetables we have a nutrient deficiency that affects every cell in your body.  When we chemically alter foods, we either introduce things that our body doesn’t recognize as food (a foreign invader or toxin) or we throw the balance off.  For example: The coca leaf is not harmful but when you extract the cocaine from this coca leaf, you strip it of other components that balance this chemical.  Without that balance, it becomes harmful.  The same happens when we change the balance of food to make them have more protein (our wheat has 4 times the gluten it had than in 1960), less fat (low fat cheese), or sweeter (high fructose corn syrup).  They also ate whole foods that ensured a nutrient dense diet made up of the animals that local farms pastured, the food from their garden and maybe a little bread to sop up the gravy.  Today we eat a plate filled with pasta, processed rice or low nutrient potatoes and then cover it with more meat than we need and maybe one serving of fruits or vegetables. We snack on low fat foods, crackers, chips, cookies, fast food cooked in toxic oils and are overfed and undernourished.

They worked outside which meant they had plenty of vitamin d, fresh air to help them detox, and exercise to keep them active and healthy.  We sit at desks and computers, only getting sun when we go to and from our car and if we are disciplined, try to make up for it on the treadmill in a room full of recycled air.

Our forefathers spent time in the garden which replicates meditation, activating their parasympathetic nervous system , a relaxed state and balancing their stress.  They didn’t spend all day racing towards deadlines, rushing kids to soccer while trying to get everything done.  Their lives were simpler and their stress not constant.  These breaks from stress allow your body to heal.  Without them, we accrue damage with little time to heal.

addressing depression in modern times
a hundred years ago, people’s food came from their gardens

Addressing Depression in modern times

A lot of those factors, we cannot change.  We cannot always change our job or how we spend our time (sometimes we can).  We can try to get the best quality food we can afford and make good choices.  We can try to get outside regularly and more on vacation.  We can implement good stress management techniques.  But let’s face it: if it was that easy we wouldn’t need help and everyone would be doing it.   Those ARE good ideas and are a great beginning.  But usually we need targeted, specific things addressed.  What your body needs may be slightly or greatly different than my body.  As you can see, there can be a lot of moving parts to address.

So let’s break this plan down into simple categories:

I often coach clients to address these four categories in order to address depression. We do the best we can for these four categories and then see what will heal while we figure out what may or may not need additional support beyond what we can accomplish through these.  We then look at supplements or medicinal herbs to help finish the job.  Medications (including herbs and supplements) are used (by direction of their doctor) to support or finish the process as needed on this journey.

  1. Gut health
  2. Brain and Nervous system health
  3. Hormonal health
  4. Nutritional deficiencies ( I will optimize nutrient intake that may be lacking)

Gut Health

Many hormones and neuro-transmitters are made in the gut, as well as many toxins that are released by “bad” gut bacteria that may be present in excess amounts.  We have beneficial bacteria and “bad” bacteria that are part of a healthy gut and GI tract.  But when we do not receive the “good bacteria” through normal experiences like vaginal birth, exposure to germs in childhood, and then combine that with high stress and  the unnecessary use of antibiotics (like in the case of using it for viruses, or as a placebo) then we kill the good bacteria and then a poor diet will feed the “bad” bacteria and an imbalance will occur.  All of these things can  cause a chain of internal events which then affect the ability to regulate mood, anxiety and energy (and who feels good when they are tired all the time?).

These are some examples of gut “issues” which would need to be addressed:

  1. sibo
  2. dysbiosis
  3. candida
  4. leaky gut
  5. microbiome diversity
  6. food intolerances
  7. enzyme production
  8. parasites
  9. and detoxing your GI tract to prevent the above and ensure that all organs are working at their full capacity.  Your liver can lose 80 to 90 percent of its function before anything shows on a test!

Your functional or integrative medical doctor can easily and simply test you for any of these.  They may only test you for what they think is likely.  It would be extremely unlikely for you to have more than 2 to 4 of these.  They are simple to address by dietary and lifestyle protocols.  Herbs and focus foods are often used in these treatments.  (Focus foods means concentrating on certain foods to bring about a desired effect)

Food Intolerances

Food intolerances are linked to inflammation and depression
Food intolerances are linked to inflammation and depression

I once read a study where 50% of the bipolar patients in a mental hospital were released after they removed grains and dairy from their diet.  It is not uncommon for these foods to cause neuro-inflammation.  Neuro-inflammation causes neuro-dysfunction.  This can cause any type of imbalance in brain chemicals. (5)

Now of course (Murphy’s law) I couldn’t find that study when I went looking for it,  but there was plenty of information on the role of foods on brain health and depression.  Here were my search results.

An elimination diet, such as the AIP diet can be especially helpful in identifying food intolerances. If you need help executing or navigating this process, feel free to contact me for a free consultation.  This offer applies to any protocol you read about in this article.

Brain and Nervous System Health

nutrient dense foods, healthy fats including coconut and targeted nutrition are important in maximizing brain health
nutrient dense foods, healthy fats including coconut and targeted nutrition are important in maximizing brain health

You can promote brain and nervous system health easily with diet.  I particularly like the Wahl’s Protocol to address brain health.  The basics of brain and nervous system health include:

  1. Eat plenty of good, quality fats: At least 30 percent of your calories is suggested.
  2. Balance blood sugar– having a palm sized portion of protein at each meal balanced with a plate full of vegetables of a variety of colors while limiting or avoiding high glycemic foods like grains, sweets, and white potatoes.
  3. Eat a nutrient dense diet.  If you are not sure if your diet is nutrient dense, then use something like cronometer.com to track your nutrition for a week to get an idea of what your nutrition looks like on average.  It would be unlikely that you wouldn’t need to make some changes like adding some focus foods.
  4. Consume targeted nutrients: Things like organ meat, green vegetables, coconut oil (and other good fats) and superfoods are a great place to start.
  5. Address nutrient deficiencies.  You may need more of a nutrient to heal than if you are healthy.  You may need more than the person next to you.  We will talk more about specifics below.
  6. identify and remove food intolerances.
  7. Remove toxins
  8. Seek nutritional supplements or medicinal herbs that may help
  9. Seek Medical guidance and a health coach for help.

Nutritional Deficiencies

Put simply (and a bit oversimplified), if you body doesn’t have the raw materials to make the chemicals that make you happy or the chemicals to keep you from being sad, then it cannot make them.  Period.  Even on a great diet, it can be challenging to get the nutrients necessary due to soil mineral depletion and modern stress levels.  Being ill will only increase the need your body requires to heal.  Most of us don’t have great diets.  And depression creates a nasty cycle of craving the very foods that are harming us.  We often turn to nutrient void foods like processed grains and sugar because they give us an instant boost in our brain chemicals that make us feel good for a short while but leave us depleted long-term.

Dark leafy greens are a good source of brain healthy nutrients
Dark leafy greens are a good source of brain healthy nutrients

Magnesium, Iodine and B Vitamins are all nutrients to examine in your quest to help your body balance it’s brain chemistry. (1) A low fat diet can also contribute to depression (2)

Magnesium helps with anxiety and stress, heal the adrenals and relax the body (necessary to heal).  A deficiency or low levels are hard to recognize/diagnose through a blood test but if you have been under a lot of stress, you will need more.  This stress could be physical or it could be mental.  This mineral is found in green leafy veges but it is common to need to supplement when the need is higher than foods can provide. Other deficiency symptoms may or may not include constipation, anxiety, slow healing, adrenal insufficiency, or insomnia.

Iodine, famous for regulating thyroid hormone production (a sluggish thyroid can cause symptoms that affect mood.  This would still be applicable even if your tests come back “normal”.  Anger, for example,  is not an uncommon side effect from thyroid inefficiencies.  Some say that anger and depression are the same emotion.  Depression is anger turned inward. (This may explain why more women are depressed.  They often don’t feel permission to express anger).  Modern American diets are often low in Iodine.  Even if you use iodized salt, it is better utilized by the body from a whole food source such as seaweeds or shellfish.  This nutrient is not for everybody and should be used with caution or direction from your doctor if you suffer from thyroid disease.

B Vitamins are necessary for neurological function and can affect stress, anxiety and depression.  They fuel the brain and the nervous system.  It is not uncommon to be lacking these vitamins, especially in those with an mthfr gene mutation (50% of the population).  This can be especially problematic if you have been supplementing with synthetic vitamins as they can then cause increased anxiety in these individuals. Even if you choose to supplement, it is best to get these from whole foods such as this one here. (check ingredients to make sure it is compatible with your dietary needs or restrictions and your body)  If you can find a whole food one that is liquid, then that would be even better. (liquids are more available and therefore better absorbed)

Vitamin D3  Also called the sunshine vitamin, Vitamin D is actually a hormone.  It is created by the body when exposure to sun turns our cholesterol into the hormone. Low levels can result in an inadequate immune system and also in seasonal defective disorder.  This is when the depression only shows up during low sun exposure months (winter).  But the same thing can contribute to depression year round as a result of sunscreen use (anything over an spf 8 blocks your vitamin D absorption), and low exposure (like when you work inside all day).  With our modern lives, this makes it a challenge to get enough any time of the year.  Sun exposure also has a lot to do with our energy and circadian rhythms (whether or not we are night or morning people). I prefer that people get this from the sun instead of a supplement when possible. Fair skinned people need 45 minutes a week of sun exposure and dark-skinned people need about 2 hours a week of sun exposure.  Generally, I recommend people aim for 20 minutes up to an hour a day. A supplement is recommended when daily outside exposure is unavailable.

getting outside and being in the sun can help your vitamin d levels and your mood
getting outside and being in the sun can help your vitamin d levels and your mood

Other nutritional deficiencies (or for some, low levels) include zinc, selenium, iron, amino acids, and folate. (3) and healthy fats like omega 3’s, dha and epa.

Low fat diets are fairly new in our society.  Just 100 years ago, we ate whole foods with their natural fat levels.  We didn’t “create” new foods by separating the fat from the milk or processing corn to create our oils.  We cooked in lard, ate eggs and beef with what came from our garden and didn’t think about fat, a necessary nutrient for many bodily functions. A lack of fat can cause a malfunction in almost every cell in your body and especially your brain cells, which are mostly fat. Pastured cows (and other animals that are eating their natural diet, not corn or other grain), wild fish, leafy greens  at most meals (which most of us rarely eat), nuts and seeds: these all contain necessary fats for brain function.  Omega 3 fats (found in those foods) are linked to better mood regulation in studies. Specifically, EPA and DHA fats are called out as necessary.  (2)  Dr. Terry Wahls mentions that fat is a necessary component in brain function and actually uses these foods and also MCT sources (including coconut oil and palm oil) to heal the brain. (4) I can attest from my own experience  (Her protocol has also been through clinical trials and is used in her own traumatic brain injury clinic on patients with MS, Parkinson’s, ALS, brain injury and more) that this is very helpful.

Balancing Blood Sugar

This type of breakfast can lead to unbalanced moods and nutritional deficiencies

When blood sugar is constantly spiking and/or dropping, it can aggravate moods.  While this alone can make someone moody, it can aggravate the moods of someone who is depressed even greater. It can attribute to manic depressive disorder, depression, anxiety and concentration as well as inflammation.  When blood sugar spikes it may feel good or even feel like a “high” for some people.  For others, they may feel a little “off”.  Whether or not it is spiked by primarily fructose or glucose may affect which of these two feelings the person gets from a blood sugar spike.  For some people, sugar may make them feel high but an apple, which is higher in fructose than it is sucrose, can make that same person feel “funny” or “off”.

When the blood sugar crashes, one can also have a wide range of reactions.  For example, a person may get tired, or cranky, or even sad. An extreme drop in blood sugar could even cause psychosis, hysterics, or extreme feelings of “fading” or feeling “faint” (or worse in very extreme cases).

Dr. Daniel Amen, neuropsychiatrist and author,  talks about balancing blood sugar to control brain chemistry and refers to The Zone principles to help specific brain chemistry.  This method of balancing proteins, carbohydrates and fats at each meal or snack is a method used to control blood sugar, inflammation, health and performance through controlling and managing the chemical processes of the body.

Neuro-inflammation

Several things can cause nuero-inflammation.  Injury, body chemistry, and toxins can cause neuro-inflammation and dysfunction.  Food intolerances  and MSG are an example of toxins in the brain, especially gluten and dairy.  Leaky gut (see gut health) can lead to leaky brain and allow food particles that were never meant to reach the brain get past the blood brain barrier and cause inflammation and dysfunction in the brain chemistry.

Environmental toxins can also do this, especially if you have MTHFR gene mutation, which is present in 50% of our population.  Not all of this will lead to depression as it may inflame another part of the brain or body but depending on the toxin and the person, damage may incur.  It can also occur due to viruses.  This list is not exhaustive.

Body chemistry could also cause dysfunction.  This may be because of an imbalance in hormones, a nutrient deficiency, or result of a dysfunctional gland or body system such as the gut or the HPA axis, or central nervous system.

Toxins

Toxins are in our soil, our furniture, our cosmetics and toiletries, and even our walls.  They are getting into our body and causing inflammation everywhere, including our brains.  They are affecting our gut health and burdening our liver, and even traveling to our brain and causing inflammation and havoc there.   The burden on our liver taking precious energy away from expelling the toxins our body normally makes as a part of daily existence.  We are consuming so many that it is more than our body can handle and therefore we store them.  While we cannot rid our environment of all toxins, we can reduce our toxic exposure by choosing organic foods, non-toxic products and supporting our body’s detoxification pathways by eating the right foods.  The Wahl’s Protocol is a great protocol that addresses this need by recommending daily requirements of detoxing foods.  Additionally, doing regular detox protocols are also a great way to help our body’s out in our modern environments.

Foods that detoxify will help your brain function. Dr. Terry Wahl's recommends specific foods and specific amounts to heal your brain and maximize function
Foods that detoxify will help your brain function. Dr. Terry Wahl’s recommends specific foods and specific amounts to heal your brain and maximize function

Hormonal Imbalances (including Adrenal Fatigue)

I had a client who had a history of sometimes severe depression.  This woman had also suffered from chronic adrenal fatigue for decades but had experienced a full reversal of her depression (for the first time ever) when she was first treated for Adrenal Fatigue.  Although she later had to address other factors to maintain this progress (because those factors became bad enough to contribute to her tendency towards depression), it gave her a major breakthrough in what she considered to be a “genetic” and therefore permanent burden on her life.  Supporting her adrenals are apart of her continuing protocol.

This imbalance was affecting her ability to deal with stress and when she was under stress she felt she was in a situation that was more than she could handle.  As you could imagine, this sense of having “more to bear than you can handle” can lead to feelings of hopelessness and overwhelm which so often are the description of depression.  This led to a cycle of stress, anxiety, depression and related symptoms and problems.

Other hormones will also play a role. Hormones are neurotransmitters.  You will see a mood shift in puberty and menopause and any change in life because our bodies are complex hormonal machines.  The wrong shift in these chemicals and all hell breaks loose (just witness a 13 year old when her blood sugar is low and she has bad pms!).  The not-so-funny thing about these things is that if you throw off one of these things, it throws off a whole chain of them.  Adrenal Fatigue, for example, throws off insulin, cortisol, and thyroid hormones.  So then you have AF, the thyroid is not functioning at its prime (even if it is normal) In addition, sugar handling such as hypoglycemia enters the picture.  Hypoglycemia by itself causes fluctuations in mood and an inability to stabilize energy.  Then you add that the adrenal glands cannot make the nuero-transmitters for the hypothalamus and pituitary to function at its prime. These two now under-supplied parts of the brain are sitting right in the middle of the part of the brain that is responsible for our outlook on life.  That alone is a recipe for disaster without external stressors.  Add the right stress and it becomes disaster. (5)

Since all hormones are made from cholesterol, it is necessary to have both adequate levels of cholesterol to create good hormonal health.  Hormones have a LOT to do with moods. Another reason to have a balance of both macro- and micro- nutrients.

Let’s also look at estrogen.  Estrogen dominance is rampant in our culture and is often paired with low progesterone.  Add in xeno-estrogens that we ingest from factory farmed foods, soy, plastics, and cosmetics and the relationship between these 2 becomes even more off balance.  I remind you that it is  not uncommon to have all the hormones mentioned in this section off balance in the same person.

Fatigue

Often fatigue both comes with depression and can aggravate depression.  This can be a result of the aforementioned stress on the adrenals, a suppressed immune system (common in Adrenal Fatigue, Chronic viruses, Thyroid disease, and Autoimmune Disease, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and much more) by itself can cause fatigue.  Supporting Adrenals, Immune System, and the thyroid with targeted nutrition can often help with fatigue.  This is a little more specific than “eating right and exercising” (although that is a good idea also).

Stress

Stress is a major factor in depression and addressing this means learning stress management techniques, making hard choices to remove sources of stress from our lives, and drawing boundaries can all be examples of how to reduce stress.  Nutrition, exercise appropriate for your body, and supporting the adrenals (even if you do not have adrenal fatigue) are all parts of this part of the picture.

Anxiety and ANTS/Getting stuck in the ugly cycle.

Dr. Daniel Amen talks about ANTS (automatic negative thoughts) and how we get stuck in these cycles of negative thoughts.  They start as a survival mechanism.  This part of our brain tries to protect ourself from harm by always being on guard for something that may cause us harm but then our brain rewires itself to think this way all the time.

Anxiety is defined as fear of things that have not happened yet.  So if you are anxious you are living in the future and if you are angry, then you are living in the past.  Starting a mindfulness practice to literally “practice” being “present” can aid in changing this mindset.  Take time to check in with “right now”:  I use the “who what when where and why” trick to help myself do this.

Who:It reminds me that I am me, and not what someone says I am.

What: I am not what I did or didn’t do in the past.

When:  It reminds me that I am here today not tomorrow or a year ago

Where: I am in this room not in a state of danger or under attack

Why: I am hear because I chose to leave that situation or be here at this time. I can choose where I am at any time.

It sounds ridiculously mundane and simple but it removes my thoughts from the past or future and puts me in a room where I am completely safe and my true self. But I have to consciously choose where my mind is at those times.

 So What should you do?

Let’s go back to that first list: 1. Gut Health, 2. Brain health, 3. Hormonal Balancing and 4.Address Nutritional needs. More specifically it would be:

  1. Test for gut health issues with your functional or integrative health care provider.  While you are there get tested for other underlying health issues like adrenal fatigue and hormone imbalances.
  2. Heal the Gut  and then Support Gut Health continually for the rest of your life.
  3. Try an Elimination Diet to see if food intolerances are playing a role
  4. Eat a nutrient dense diet full of whole, unaltered foods in their natural, original forms. Get adequate but not excessive amount of healthy fats, proteins and carbohydrates and exercise.
  5. Eat to balance blood sugar and reduce inflammation.
  6. Support Detoxification of your body by eating sulphurous and green vegetables daily like the Wahl’s Protocol Suggests.  Add a detoxification protocol to your routine regularly whether one day a week, one weekend a month or a full 2 to 4 week protocol each 3 months.  Do this under the direction of your health coach and/or medical practitioner.
  7. Focus on foods that are specific to your body’s needs.  Your health history should give some clues as to what those are.  A little research can help you find the foods you really need. (see resources for a start)
  8. Enlist help if needed.  A functional medicine doctor, a holistic health practitioner and a health coach are all great places to start this journey.  A coach can both work with your doctor/practitioner and help you with your journey.

Foods to Definitely  Avoid:

High glycemic load foods like processed flours and sugar are harmful to our brain health or gut health
High glycemic load foods like processed flours and sugar are harmful to our brain health and gut health

Some foods can specifically cause problems in people such as (3)

Gluten-can cause neuroinflammation in many

Dairy– can cause neuro-inflammation in many

Caffeine– stimulates and burdens the adrenals, therefore creating a cycle of low energy and mood disruption that only increases problems long term.  Consider caffeine to be “borrowed energy”.  It is not a replacement for listening to your body and giving your body what is asking for when it is tired.

Refined Sugar– creates blood sugar instability and makes it hard to control mood and brain chemistry.  It is also devoid of nutrients.

Refined flours and starches– Your body metabolizes these similar to sugar.  They also are low in nutrients.  This includes “whole grain” processed foods like pasta, crackers and cereals.

Processed and Factory Farmed Fats and Oils– This includes cottonseed, canola, soy, corn, canola, rapeseed, and fats from factory farmed or conventionally raised animals.  These fats are full of toxins and highly processed with chemicals and can create neuro-inflammation.

A Note about fats: I would caution about eating “bad fats”.  The information  concerning missing fats from our diet should be used to encourage high quality fat sources but is not an excuse to gorge yourself on factory farmed fatty cuts of meat. (yes, you may find it delicious!)  The toxins from conventional farm feed (full of pesticides) stores in the fat and bones of the animal.  So If you cannot get organic or pesticide free, grass-fed meats, then lean cuts may still be the best for your health.  Also, moderation is key in any macro-nutrient (this term refers to fat, carbohydrate or protein).  Too much or too little of anything is not good.

Soy– and endocrine disruptor, it can throw off your body’s ability to regulate its own chemistry.

Supplements to ask your health care practitioner about:

Note: please consult an herbalist, a functional medicine doctor or other healthcare provider before using any medication, or removing a medication from your regimen.  One man’s cure is another man’s poison.  Depression is nothing to mess around with!

Fish oil containing EPA and DHA- to promote proper brain function and health

5-htp– taking this may help your body to address a serotonin deficiency

SAMe– often used for depression

St. John’s Wort– increases a sense of well-being.

Turmeric– some claim for this to be as effective as antidepressants

Coconut oil– helps repair and increase brain function

Magnesium– helps the body heal, enter healing states and relax.

B Complex– important for neurological health and moods

Vitamin D– deficiencies are related to depression and immune function

Saffron– shown to help with depression

Deal with the Pa

If you suffer from depression, it can be a long journey to find a solution that is best for your situation.  My own involved both things from above as well as some intensive therapy for childhood and family dynamics.  So that is one thing that is not mentioned above that is helpful.   There can be a lot of unresolved self-blame, shame, anxiety and anger based on fears or events from the past  Talking alone will not help someone resolve these things, especially if talking about them just makes the person relive the trauma.  I found that I had to analyze, forgive, meet unmet needs, create new positive experiences to replace old negative ones, and seek more answers than anyone could ever list. Journaling about my feelings was integral in becoming aware of patterns and dynamics so that I could get to the root cause of my emotions (past events or series of events) so that I could deal with that: I had to identify the root of the emotion, recognize the wrong that was done to me, choose to forgive them and find a way to heal the person that went through it so that I could accept it and move past it.  Moving past it meant looking forward to a future that didn’t involve repeating those dynamics and didn’t involve anyone that would do to me things like what had been done.  I had to look at my own choices and make better ones and I even had to cut some people out of my life in order to protect my future. I also had to deal with feelings about myself: cutting out the negative thoughts those experiences had imbedded in my mind and instead replace those thoughts with the truth: this also meant I had to find those truths.

I hope this helps someone in their journey.  If it doesn’t help you then I hope someone does help you. I encourage you to never give up hope and never stop looking for the answer. I truly believe it is out there for the finding.  If you like this content and would like to receive other health related articles, recipes and offers to help you on your journey, please sign up for the newsletter at the top of the page.  Feel free to email me or comment below with any feedback; I love to hear from my readers! I also encourage you to check out my related post on Anxiety solutions.  Anxiety can often trigger depression.  Even if you don’t have anxiety, the suggestions and solutions for that will often help depression.  Here is the link.

Sources and Resources for further reading:

How to address depression naturally-
how to address depression naturally
  1. http://www.ancestral-nutrition.com/why-your-ancestors-didnt-have-anxiety-or-depression-and-you-do/
  2. http://www.everydayhealth.com/columns/therese-borchard-sanity-break/nutritional-deficiencies-that-may-cause-depression/
  3. http://www.rootedblessings.com/5-foods-to-ditch-if-you-struggle-with-anxiety-or-depression/
  4. Dr. Terry Wahls The Wahl’s Protocol
  5. Dr. Daniel Amen, Change Your Brain, Change Your Life
  6. The Zone by Dr. Barry Sears
  7. The Paleo Approach by Sarah Ballantyne
  8. Life Changing Foods by Anthony Williams
  9. Breaking Free by Beth Moore
  10. Toxic Parents by Susan Forward

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