Depression

Common Illness

We all suffer from depression at some stage. Depression ranges from feeling blue, unmotivated and apathetic to feeling unable to cope with life at any level, or even suicidal.

More of us suffer from depression in the winter with SAD – seasonal affective disorder, or the winter blues. This stems from a lack of light reaching the pineal gland and can be helped by ensuring you get outside for at least 20 minutes a day and using full spectrum lights and light bulbs which can help to give your body the light levels it requires during the winter.

Anger Without Enthusiasm

Depression can often be termed anger without enthusiasm ie. something in your life isn’t working and needs dealing with. Does your job or your relationship not let you express yourself, have you lost touch with your dreams, are you living in a way which betrays who your really are or could be? If this is the case, seeing a counselor or a life coach may help you to get back in touch with the underlying causes of your depression.

Nutritional Causes

Another, often unrecognized, cause of depression can be lack of optimum nutrition. This can not only help to improve mood and energy, but give you the motivation to make the necessary changes.

A common factor in most depression is poor control of blood sugar levels. Swings in blood sugar directly impact on our moods. Glucose is required by the body for energy production, but too much released quickly into the blood is dangerous and the body scrambles to balance the levels by releasing insulin, leading into dips in glucose levels, and energy lows. This is a common effect of eating fast-releasing carbohydrates ie. sweet, sugary foods. Slow-releasing carbohydrates have the effect of releasing their glucose content over a longer period and therefore not giving sudden sugar swings. The measure of how high a food raises your blood sugar levels is called Glycaemic Index (GI). Eat a low GI diet and your blood sugar will balance out (see Blood Sugar Fact Sheet).

Deficiencies of essential nutrients are also recognized as directly affecting mood and motivation. Most important of these are:

Vitamins B3, B6, folic acid, B12, C, zinc, magnesium and essential fatty acids (especially the Omega 3s)

Supplementing these nutrients in the form of a high potency supplement such as the Usana Essentials can significantly improve recovery from depression.

Last but not least are the Omega 3 oils. Your brain is made up of a high concentration of Omega 3 fatty acids – the higher your levels of these the higher your levels of serotonin are likely to be.

Neurotransmitter Imbalances

Neurotransmitters are chemicals released from the nerve endings which carry the nerve impulses from one cell to another. An imbalance in two families of neurotransmitters can also cause problems with depression. These are:

Serotonin – influences mood
Adrenalin and noradrenalin – influences motivation

These neurotransmitters require certain nutrients in order for the body to produce them. Deficiency in these – or a high usage of them due to long term stress – requires supplementation in order to bring levels back to optimum so serotonin and adrenalin and noradrenalin can be produced. These nutrients are:

B vitamins, Vitamin C, zinc and the Omega 3 fats

Serotonin is made from the amino acid Tryptophan, which is converted to 5-HTP, then to serotonin. Tryptophan cannot be bought in this country as a supplement but 5-HTP is available and clinical studies have shown significant improvement in levels of depression with its use. The recommended dosage is 100 mg twice a day. Taken alongside B vitamins its effects are increased as they are required to convert 5-HTP into serotonin.

Adrenalin and noradrenalin are made from dopamine, which is made from the amino acid tyrosine, which in turn is made from phenylalanine. So supplementing either of these amino acids helps to relieve depression due to low levels of adrenalin and noradrenalin.

Also helpful is supplementing TMG (tri-methylglycine) which produces SAMe, which is required during the production of both serotonin, adrenalin and noradrenalin.

Nutritional Programme

So a programme to tackle depression would look something like this:

A multivitamin giving a minimum of the following:

  • 25 mg of all B vits
  • 10 mcg of B12
  • 100 mcg of folic acid
  • 200 mg magnesium
  • 3 mg manganese
  • 10 mg zinc
  • 1 g vitamin C

Omega 3 x 2 day – giving minimum 200 mg EPA
200 mg DHA each dose

2 g phenylalanine OR tyrosine
1.5 g tryptopan OR 150mg 5-HTP
200 mg SAMe OR 600 mg TMG

The products I recommend to cover this are:

  • Usana Essentials
  • Omega 3
  • Positive Outlook

These three items will provide, with your diet, levels of essential nutrients your brain needs.

Another approach is to use a Chinese Herbal Formula using the basis of Traditional Chinese Medicine in your approach to depression:

Perilla & Cyperus Combination – also called Mood Elevator – is a blend of traditional herbs designed to improve mood, and has helped many people get off antidepressants.

Another aspect to be considered is:/

Histadelia

People suffering from depression can have problems physically with nutrient deficiencies, dehydration, glucose intolerance and allergy -extremely common symptoms in those suffering from depression . One major cause is an excess of the neurotransmitter hormone histamine – a condition known as histadelia . Dr Carl Pfeiffer asks: “Do you sneeze in bright sunlight? Cry, salivate and feel nauseous easily? Hear your pulse in your head on the pillow at night? Have frequent backaches, stomach and muscle cramps ? Do you have regular headaches and seasonal allergies? Have abnormal fears, compulsions and rituals? Do you burn up food rapidly and sometimes entertain suicidal thoughts? …If a majority of these apply to you, you may benefit from a low-protein, high complex carbohydrate diet (fruits and vegetables), 500 mg of calcium , am and pm, 500 mg methionine am and pm and a basic supplement program. Avoid supplements containing folic acid as these can raise histamine levels.”