Mental health professionals see thousands of people across the US each day for depression. Conventional treatments for depression include drug therapy and counseling, and sometimes in-patient care. However, despite many recent studies showing a link between diet and depression, this facet of depression is rarely addressed with patients. There are many reasons for this, including the unfortunate fact that psychiatrists and psychologists are not trained in nutrition; but, the fact remains that diet is an effective treatment for many cases of depression.
There are very basic, simple guidelines for treating depression with diet. Those who are on depression medication can benefit from a more comprehensive approach that includes nutrition counseling and dietary changes, which can often lead to dosage decreases of the cessation of medications altogether. Those who have mild to moderate depression can often manage their condition without medication through diet, stress management techniques, and exercise.
If you are experiencing depression, or if you are on depression medications, talk with your doctor before making any changes in your management options. A good physician will work with you on a complete treatment plan.
Guidelines and Foods for Managing Depression
Explore food allergies. Many people have food allergies, most commonly an intolerance to gluten called Celiac. Allergies are rarely explored by mental health professionals, but some studies estimate that up to one third of depression cases could be caused by untreated food allergies. Even a mild allergy to gluten can cause the same symptoms as depression.
Cut out sugars and simple carbohydrates. These foods can cause spikes in blood sugars that can destabilize moods, causing depression or exacerbating existing depression. The more sugar and simple carbohydrates a person eats, the more ups and downs they have in their blood sugar levels, causing more mood swings. Choose whole grains instead of rices and pastas, and fruit instead of candies and sweets.
Eat foods rich in B vitamins. Vitamin B deficiency is becoming rampant in the US, as people eat more processed foods and less whole, raw foods. Deficiency in B vitamins is known to cause depression, but this cause is rarely looked into by health care professionals. Increase your vitamin B intake by switching from conventional, store-purchased meats to grass fed, pastured meats. Cows, chickens, and other animals produce Vitamin B when they eat grass and bugs, and have up to eight times the B vitamins of conventional meat. This yet another reason for the rising incidence of vitamin deficiency in the US. Other foods also contain vitamin B: nuts, oats and other whole grains, leafy greens, and avocados are examples of foods rich in b vitamins. You can also take brewers yeast to up your b vitamin content.
Increase Omega Fatty Acids. Omega Fatty Acids, specifically Omega 3, have been consistenly shown to decrease depression, sometimes completely ridding the individual of any need for medications. Unfortunatly, the US diet has become woefully deficient in Omegas. You can, of course, take a supplement; but, it’s also a good idea to put some foods with Omegas into your diet. Wild caught fish like salmon have an abundance of Omega 3s, as do pastured chicken eggs. Vegetarian sources include flax and pumpkin. Many people see results from additional Omega 3s in as little as three weeks, far faster than most depression medications, and there are no side effects.
Eat “good” fats. A diet too low in fats can cause depression. Add a little additional olive oil to your salads, a few nuts to your mid-day snack, a half cup of yogurt to breakfast, or a small pat of butter to your oatmeal. Recent studies show that cholesterol that is too low can cause depression and suicidal thoughts. Don’t go overboard, but a diet with some dietary fat is important in fighting depression.
Get rid of caffiene & nicotine. No one wants to give up their morning cup of Joe, but caffiene and nicotine can both cause and exacerbate depression. Switch to a low-caffiene tea or decaf coffee, and stop smoking.
Add folic acid rich foods to your daily diet. Studies have shown direct correlation to folic acid deficiency and depression. In fact, the greater the deficiency, the greater the depression. Eat a breakfast cereal low in sugar, enriched with folic acid. Legumes, such as lentils and peas, and whole grains are also high in folic acid.
Get rid of processed foods. Processed foods usually contain chemicals, sugars, and preservatives that are counterproductive when treating depression. Replace processed foods and snacks with whole food alternatives.
Managing depression with diet can be a successful strategy, alone or combined with more traditional medications and counseling. Talk to your doctor today about how you can integrate a depression friendly diet with other treatments.
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Omega-3 for Depression and Bipolar: Fish is supposed to be good brain food. Can this literally be true? John McManamy. Mcmanweb.com
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Top Five Foods for Beating Depression. Tuesday, October 03, 2006 by: Erin Bates. Naturalnews.com