Depression impacts about 120 million people worldwide. The World Health Organization predicts depression to become the second most burdensome disease by 2020.(1) Heart disease is the first. Antidepressants are the most highly prescribed type of drug of all time. Over 160 million antidepressant drug prescriptions are written every year. However, these drugs have little to no effect on the actual cause of depression and they are extremely dangerous. Learn what you can do to prevent and reverse depression naturally.
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Facts about Depression and Suicide
Last week, I attended a workshop on depression and suicide prevention. The facts that we learned were staggering. In 2010, there were 38,364 completed suicides in the U.S.(2) That’s over 105 deaths by suicide per day. Over 90-95 percent of the people who die by suicide suffer from a major psychiatric disorder. These illnesses are treatable; however, the medical model has overwhelmingly failed in treating these disorders. In fact, medical treatment with antidepressant drugs has led to even more suicides.
Even more staggering is the fact that antidepressant drugs are so widely prescribed despite their extreme danger.
Dangers of Antidepressant Drugs
The biggest problem with antidepressant drugs is that they do not deal with the underlying cause of depression. Further, they are some of the most dangerous and deadly drugs. CCHR International is a mental health watchdog group. Here is a 30 second video from them over viewing side effects of psychiatric drugs. There is also a link to their amazing search engine on psychiatric drugs.
Antidepressant Drug Warnings
Wellness Lifestyle Approach to Depression
Depression is NOT caused by a lack of drugs in your body! Depression, diabetes, obesity, heart disease and cancer have all been shown to directly result from your lifestyle. The way you choose to live and the things you do on a daily basis either cause disease or create health and wellness. The way you eat, think and live each day has the power to heal you or harm you. The choice is yours.
Beat Depression with Food
As a result of the Standard American Diet (SAD), most people have suboptimal levels of most nutrients that prevent depression. This lifestyle also causes inflammation and hormone imbalances. These dietary changes will help you defeat depression by providing your body the nutrients it needs to feel good, restore neurotransmitters, balance hormones and conquer inflammation.
Eliminate Refined Sugar
Many studies have linked the use of refined sugar to depression. While it quickly elevates your mood, sugar just as quickly depresses your mood. With long-term consumption, your body will be depleted of vitamins and other nutrients that are necessary to prevent depression. William Dufty creates a strong argument for avoiding sugar in his book Sugar Blues. Sugar Shock is another good book discussing how sugar causes brain fog, fatigue, mood swings, depression, heart disease and even cancer.
What to use instead: Whole food sources to use in strict moderation include raw honey or maple syrup. However, it is best to stick with natural sweeteners that will not affect blood sugar levels such as whole leaf stevia or xylitol.
Inflammation depletes your body’s supplies of omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, probiotics, vitamins and minerals. These nutrients are necessary for your body to produce neurotransmitters that prevent depression. While an anti-inflammatory diet is a healthy way to eat as a long-term lifestyle, it is restrictive. However, if you are dealing with depression, weight loss resistance, diabetes, heart disease or cancer – an anti-inflammatory diet is vital to your healing. Learn more about the anti-inflammatory diet here: 8 Tips to Beat Inflammation with Your Diet.
Recent research(3) has shown that a common strain of probiotic (Lactobacillus rhamnosus) can create the neurotransmitter GABA within the gut while also enhancing brain receptors for it. Naturally produced GABA is a safe alternative to dangerous psychiatric drugs. It calms the nervous system, promotes tranquil sleep, minimizes anxiety and alleviates depression.
Food sources: yogurt, kefir, miso, tempeh, kimchi, sauerkraut, pickles, Kombucha tea.
Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are necessary for good brain health. Studies have linked depression with low dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids. In countries with higher fish consumption, such as Japan and Taiwan, the depression rate is 10 times lower than in North American.
People suffering from depression have lower levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the blood. One study showed that the lower the level of EPA, the more severe the clinical depression.(4)
Another study showed that fish oil supplementation reduced suicidal tendencies and improved well being.(5)
Food sources: Flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, cold water fish (salmon, sardines, and anchovies).
Vitamin D has been shown to increase levels of serotonin in the brain. Every tissue in the body has vitamin D receptors, including the brain, heart, muscles, and immune system. This means that vitamin D is needed at every level for the body to function. Vitamin D activates genes that regulate the release of neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin, that affect brain function and development.(6)
Because vitamin D is produced in the skin through unprotected exposure to the sun, its deficiency is likely the cause of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) as well.
Sufficient sun exposure is critical to maintaining optimal vitamin D levels. Most people simply do not receive enough sunshine to produce sufficient levels of vitamin D. Therefore, it is important to supplement. Garden of Life Vitamin Code RAW D3 is a good source.
Folic acid, or folate, is a B vitamin that is often deficient in people who are depressed. It’s one of the most common vitamin deficiencies because of poor diet. Also, chronic conditions and various medications such as aspirin and birth control pills can lead to deficiency.
Food sources: Folate is found in green leafy vegetables, other vegetables, fruit and beans.
Vitamin B6 is needed to produce the mood-enhancing neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. Several drugs can produce B6 deficiency such as oral contraceptives, hormone replacement therapy, and drugs for tuberculosis.
Food sources: Bran, dried herbs and spices, pistachios, hazelnuts, garlic, sunflower and sesame seeds.
The Truth about Antidepressants and Healing with Lifestyle
Beat Depression with Lifestyle
Stress is the underlying cause of most diseases including depression. However, stress is also a normal part of life. It cannot be completely avoided. How we manage and respond to stress will determine whether or not it will cause disease or depression. Therefore, stress relieving lifestyle activities such as meditation, reading scripture, prayer, gardening, and regular laughter are vital to preventing and reversing depression. See 5 Stress Management Tips to Conquer Stress & Restore Your Health for more great help with stress management.
Exercise is the most important lifestyle activity to prevent and reverse depression. When you exercise, the body naturally releases chemicals called endorphins that trigger positive feelings in the body and mind. Exercise also decreases stress hormones like cortisol. Regular exercise is one of the most effective and inexpensive ways to improve mood.
In one study (British J. of Sports Med., April 2011;35:114-117), researchers looked at the results of subjects with a major depressive disorder. Participants exercised by walking on a treadmill and performing interval training for 30 min/day for 10 days. Researchers found that walking for 30 minutes each day improved a patient’s symptoms faster than an antidepressant drug.
Another study (J. Sports Med and Physical Fitness, December 2001;41:539-545) looked at 80 men and women who answered a mood questionnaire before and after exercising. The researchers determined that 52 of the subjects qualified as being in a depressed mood. After exercising, that group reported increased vigor, and reductions in anger, depression and anxiety.
This article will show you how to get these natural antidepressant exercise benefits in as little as 12 minutes per day: Best Exercise to Reverse Metabolic Syndrome and Diabetes.
Toxicity is another major underlying cause of depression that is overlooked in conventional medicine. In fact, the pharmaceutical drugs used to treat depression are a major source of toxicity, making the problem worse. Toxicity inhibits the production of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine. Removing toxicity allows your body to function better and your mind to function more clearly.
Toxicity is something that we encounter everyday. Like stress, it is also something that cannot be completely eliminated. In order to prevent and reverse depression, it is important to understand how to live a lifestyle that will allow your body to detoxify naturally. 14 Healthy Tips to Detoxify will give you many tools to help you get started.
The relationship between depression and sleep is complex. Many people with depression develop problems with sleeping later. Insomnia is highly related to depressive disorders. However, restorative sleep is necessary for your body to heal normally and replenish serotonin and dopamine levels.
Unfortunately, many people are sleep deprived, trying to survive on four to five (or less) hours of sleep each night. This just sets you up for many serious health conditions from weight loss resistance to diabetes and even depression.
The sufficient amount of sleep varies from person to person. However, on average seven to nine hours of sleep is necessary to restore the body and mind and allow them to heal normally.
Belonging to a Community/Church Membership
Often, depression starts from a lack of belonging to a group or community. Humans are designed to be social. Unfortunately, in this age, our socializing often does not extend too far beyond Facebook, Twitter and other online social networks.
Belonging to a community, such as a church, fills this basic human need. It is normal to feel depressed or anxious at times. Having a group of people you can turn to prevents you from feeling isolated and provides resources for coping.
Natural Supplements to consider for Depression
It is important to note that taking herbal remedies and other supplements for depression doesn’t deal with the underlying cause. However, they can be helpful for short term use while your body and brain are healing. Be sure to incorporate as many dietary and lifestyle changes as possible. They actually address the underlying cause of depression and help prevent depression as well.
St. John’s Wort
St. John’s wort is known to help digestion, act as an antiviral, has anti-inflammatory properties and supports thyroid function. It also gently balances the neurotransmitters GABA, norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine.
5-hyrdroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is an amino acid. It is the molecule the body uses to make serotonin, which helps elevate mood. While many antidepressant drugs artificially stop the production of enzymes that breakdown serotonin, 5-HTP gives the body more of the raw materials it needs to make more serotonin.
SAMe stands for S-adenosylmethionine. It’s a chemical that’s found naturally in the human body and is believed to increase levels of neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. SAMe tends to work quickly, often lifting mood within days rather than weeks.
Saffron is used for its ability to help the digestive system heal. Because most neurotransmitters are made in the digestive tract, this might be the reason saffron has been shown in studies to elevate low mood. It is high in carotenoids and B vitamins. In studies, saffron has been compared to both Prozac and Imipramine, and found to work at least as well, or better, with less side effects.(1)
Question: Who do you know who is affected by depression and can benefit from this information? Will you do them a great favor and share this with them today? It just may save their life!
References for this Article:
(1) LoGiudice, Pina and Bongiorno, Peter. “Best Natural Antidepressants” 12/02/2011.
(2) U.S.A. SUICIDE: 2010 OFFICIAL FINAL DATA http://www.suicidology.org/c/document_library/get_file?folderId=262&name=DLFE-635.pdf
(3) Deans, Emily. “Do Probiotics Help Anxiety? More evidence of the gut-brain connection” Evolutionary Psychiatry. Published on June 17, 2012. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/evolutionary-psychiatry/201206/do-probiotics-help-anxiety
(4) Nemets, Boris, Ziva Stahl, and RH Belmaker. “Addition of omega-3 fatty acid to maintenance medication treatment for recurrent unipolar depressive disorder.” American Journal of Psychiatry 159.3 (2002): 477-479.http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/article.aspx?articleID=175405
(5) Hallahan, Brian et al. “Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation in patients with recurrent self-harm Single-centre double-blind randomised controlled trial.” The British Journal of Psychiatry 190.2 (2007): 118-122. http://bjp.rcpsych.org/content/190/2/118.short
(6) Greenblatt, James. “Psychological Consequences of Vitamin D Deficiency. Vitamin D supplementation may help depression” The Breakthrough Depression Solution. Published on November 14, 2011. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-breakthrough-depression-solution/201111/psychological-consequences-vitamin-d-deficiency