The Minority/ Black Health Blog
Depression is a brain disorder that causes people to be persistently in a depressed mood and is often accompanied by a loss of interest in activities. It’s not like just having a bad day; it causes significant impairment in daily activities. According to Dr. Joseph Mercola on his web site, Mercola.com, one in 20 Americans over the age of 12 struggles with depression. Recent studies have shown that certain nutritional supplements can actually increase the effectiveness of antidepressants used to treat depression.
Although antidepressant medication is used in treating depression, some patients with depression can actually feel more anxious after taking antidepressant medication. Some patients do not respond at all to antidepressants. According to an article published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, the following 4 supplements were shown in studies to boost the effectiveness of antidepressant medications such as SSRIs, serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) and tricyclic antidepressants:
•omega-3 fish oil,
•vitamin D and
This has lead study authors to consider more comparisons between supplements only, medication only, and a combination of both, to see if supplements alone could produce the same results, without all the side effects of medications. Omega-3, for example, is known to be effective on brain health and mental health, and a low level of vitamin D has been linked to depression.
Managing depression without drugs?
According to Dr. Mercola, some supplements may represent a safer way of managing depression without taking dangerous drugs that often have side effects.
Research has also revealed there are a number of other safe effective ways to address depression that do not involve hazardous drugs. So, if you suffer from an anxiety or depression-related disorder, please consider addressing the following diet and lifestyle factors before you resort to drugs:
Eat real food, and avoid all processed foods, sugar (particularly fructose), grains and GMOs
High sugar and starchy carbohydrates lead to excessive insulin release, which can result in falling blood sugar levels, or hypoglycemia. In turn, hypoglycemia causes your brain to secrete glutamate in levels that can cause agitation, depression, anger, anxiety, and panic attacks.
Sugar also fans the flames of inflammation in your body. In addition to being high in sugar and grains, processed foods also contain a variety of additives that can affect your brain function and mental state, especially MSG, and artificial sweeteners such as aspartame.
Gluten sensitivity is also a common, hidden cause of depression, so going on a gluten-free diet can be part of the answer. Recent research also shows that glyphosate, used in large quantities on genetically engineered crops like corn, soy, and sugar beets, limits your body’s ability to detoxify foreign chemical compounds.
As a result, the damaging effects of those toxins are magnified, potentially resulting in a wide variety of diseases, including brain disorders that have both psychological and behavioral effects.
Increase consumption of traditionally fermented and cultured foods
Reducing gut inflammation is imperative when addressing mental health issues,27 so optimizing your gut flora is a critical piece. To promote healthy gut flora, increase your consumption of probiotic foods, such as fermented vegetables, kimchee, natto and kefir.
Get adequate vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 deficiency can contribute to depression and affects one in four people.
Optimize your vitamin D levels
Vitamin D is very important for your mood. Remember, Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression related to sunshine deficiency, so it would make sense that the perfect way to optimize your vitamin D is through UV exposure. Be sure to check your levels (via blood test) at least once or twice a year. You’ll want to be within the therapeutic range of 40 to 60 ng/ml year-round.
If you cannot get sufficient sun exposure to maintain this level, taking an oral vitamin D3 supplement would be advisable. Just remember to also increase your vitamin K2 when taking oral vitamin D.
Get plenty of high-quality animal-based omega-3 fats
Your brain is 60 percent fat, and DHA, an animal-based omega-3 fat, along with EPA, is crucial for good brain function and mental health28,29 Unfortunately, most people don’t get enough from diet alone, so make sure you take a high-quality omega-3 fat, such as krill oil.
Evaluate your salt intake
Sodium deficiency actually creates symptoms that are very much like those of depression. Make sure you do NOT use processed salt (regular table salt), however. You’ll want to use an all natural, unprocessed salt like Himalayan salt, which contains more than 80 different micronutrients.
Get adequate daily exercise
Studies have shown there is a strong correlation between improved mood and aerobic capacity. There’s also a growing acceptance that the mind-body connection is very real, and that maintaining good physical health can significantly lower your risk of developing depression in the first place.
Exercising creates new GABA-producing neurons that help induce a natural state of calm. It also boosts your levels of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which help buffer the effects of stress.
Get enough sleep
You can have the best diet and exercise program possible but if you aren’t sleeping well you can easily become depressed. Sleep and depression are so intimately linked that a sleep disorder is actually part of the definition of the symptom complex that gives the label depression.
Energy psychology techniques such as the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) can also be very effective for reducing symptoms of depression or anxiety by correcting the bioelectrical short-circuiting that causes your body’s reactions — without adverse effects.
Recent research has shown that EFT significantly increases positive emotions, such as hope and enjoyment, and decreases negative emotional states. EFT is particularly powerful for treating stress and anxiety because it specifically targets your amygdala and hippocampus, which are the parts of your brain that help you decide whether or not something is a threat.30,21
For serious or complex issues, seek out a qualified health care professional that is trained in EFT32 to help guide you through the process.
For more information on the Health Benefits of Fermented Foods, go to: