Anxiety and depression are very common in the Uk. There are many different levels of depression and since we are all different the signs are not always so obvious. It is sometimes difficult to realise the extent of a person’s depression. There is a huge difference between feeling a little down after a bad day and full blown depression. Women tend to be affected more by depression. Depression can be a severe mental illness that if untreated can become very destructive, destroying a persons life and the lives of those around them.
Causes for depression
Loss of loved one
Blood sugar imbalance
Symptoms of depression
Constant feeling of being sad
feeling incompetent, inadequate and worthless
constantly thinking about suicide
Loss of interest in everything
frequent crying spells
Neurotransmitters are responsible for mood function:
Serotonin is responsible for feelings of well being, your mood and sleep.
Adrenalin, Noradrenalin and Dopamine are responsible for alertness and motivation.
Melatonin is responsible for the sleep, wake cycle.
Histamine is responsible for motivation and metabolism.
GABA is responsible for anti-anxiety and relaxation.
Acetylcholine is responsible for memory and learning.
If your neurotransmitters are out of balance this will alter your brain chemistry affecting your mood and behaviour causing anxiety, stress and depression. Contributing factors include: recreational drugs, sugar and stimulants like coffee and alcohol, lack of sleep and stress.
Foods to avoid
Avoid all ready made meals. Cook everything fresh so you know exactly what ingredients go into your cooking. Avoid all refined sugar like cakes, pastries, biscuits, white pasta, bread and rice. Avoid all fizzy drinks and foods that contain colourings and flavourings as these can alter mood. Alcohol is a depressant therefore drink in moderation or avoid altogether if you have feelings of depression. Avoid drinking too much coffee and all caffeine drinks.
Friendly foods to include in your diet
Since the brain is made up of mainly fat it needs healthy fats to function so include foods that are rich in Essential Fatty acids: almonds, selenium nuts, brazil nuts, walnuts, avocado, wheatgerm, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, wild salmon, sardines and mackerel.
Include more fruits and vegetables into your diet as well as quinoa, brown rice, millet, gluten free oats. to increase your levels of serotonin eat foods that contain tryptophan, such as, chicken, bananas, turkey, tahini, avocados, lentils, chickpeas, almonds, walnuts.
Include super foods into your diet, such as, wheat grass, spirulina, barley grass, bee pollen. Drink green smoothies on a daily basis. Drink plenty of water to flush out all toxins.
A poor diet will result in malabsorption and vitamin deficiencies. Lack of the B vitamins, vitamin C, folic acid, zinc and magnesium can all lead to depression.
Blood sugar balance
Make sure to not to skip breakfast as it is the most important meal of the day. Eat healthy and try to include protein with every meal as protein makes you feel full for longer. Try to eat regularly. Do not skip meals. Have 3 meals a day and 2 snacks. Try to eat every 4 hours.
Do not underestimate the healing power of nature. Studies show that people that live in colder climates are most likely to suffer from depression and be suicidal. Have you noticed how the warmer weather seems to put everyone in a good mood?! So take advantage and go outdoors. Go for a walk or jog in the park. If you are working in an office all day have regular breaks and go outside for some fresh air and sunlight.
Regular exercise is excellent for depression. Exercise release endorphins which act like a natural antidepressant. All you need to do is 30 minutes a day to see the benefits. Try to walk to work. I would also recommend yoga as it relaxes the mind.
Other helpful hints
Watch comedy shows and funny movies that make you laugh. There is nothing like laughter to make you feel better. Avoid movies that will provoke feelings of sadness.
Be sure to get plenty of quality sleep. This is so important to keep the brain functioning properly. Lack of sleep will make you tired, stressed, lower your immune system and cause depression.
I hope the above information is useful. If you suffer from severe depression you must seek help from your GP who will refer you to a counsellor. Do not be afraid to ask for help and surround yourself with a good network of family and friends.
If you require more information or a bespoke nutritional plan please email me for an online consultation.