❑ Eat a diet that includes plenty of raw fruits and vegetables, with soybeans and soy products, whole grains, seeds, nuts, brown rice, millet, and legumes. Depression Recommendations. A diet too low in complex carbohydrates can cause serotonin depletion and depression.
❑If you are nervous and wish to become more relaxed, consume more complex carbohydrates. For increased alertness, eat protein meals containing essential fatty acids. Depression Recommendations. The omega-3 fatty acids in particular are very necessary for healthy bodies and minds, and studies have shown that a deficiency can lead to mood disorders. Salmon and whitefish are good choices. In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, those who ate fish of any type had fewer depressive symptoms than those who didn’t eat fish. Of the two major omega-3 fatty acids obtained from fish, EPA and DHA. Only EPA seems to be protective against depression. Fish usually have a 50:50 mixture of the two fatty acids, which is a good ratio. If you are using dietary supplements, make sure they have the same ratio, or slightly more EPA than DHA.
❑ If you need your spirits lifted, you will benefit from eating foods like turkey and salmon, which are high in tryptophan and protein.
❑ The omega-3 fat DHA, docosahexaenoic acid, which is found in many cold-water fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel, is known to have cardioprotective effects. Researchers at the University of California—Los Angeles School of Medicine found that genetically engineered mice fed a diet rich in DHA also were found to have less brain cell damage than those fed a diet that substituted safflower oil, which is low in omega-3 fatty acids. We recommend at least two meals a week of fish (not fried) rich in omega-3 fatty acids. While this is for good cardiovascular health, it is possible that this diet can also favorably affect people with Alzheimer’s disease or depression. Low levels of DHA have also been associated with postpartum depression. However, newer data from Holland showed that DHA when combined with another fatty acid did not prevent depressive symptoms associated with childbirth.
❑ Omit wheat products from the diet. Wheat gluten has been linked to depressive disorders in those who do not tolerate gluten protein. Depression Recommendations.
❑ Avoid diet sodas and other products containing the artificial sweetener aspartame (in NutraSweet, Equal, and other products). This additive can possibly block the formation of serotonin and cause headaches, insomnia, and depression in individuals who are already serotonindeprived.
❑ Limit your intake of supplements that contain the amino acid phenylalanine. It contains the chemical phenol, which is highly allergenic. Most depressed people are allergic to certain substances. If you take a combination free form amino acid supplement, look for a product that does not contain phenylalanine. Phenylalanine is one of the major components of aspartame.
❑ Avoid foods high in saturated fats; the consumption of meat or fried foods, such as hamburgers and French fries, leads to sluggishness, slow thinking, and fatigue. They interfere with blood flow by causing the arteries and small blood vessels to become blocked and the blood cells to become sticky and tend to clump together, resulting in poor circulation, especially to the brain.
❑ Avoid all forms of sugar, including normally “good” sweeteners such as honey, molasses, and fruit juice. The body reacts more quickly to the presence of sugar than it does to the presence of complex carbohydrates. The increase in energy supplied by the simple carbohydrates (sugars) is quickly followed by fatigue and depression. Stevia, a concentrated natural sweetener derived from a South American shrub, does not have the same effect on the body as sugar, and does not have the side effects of artificial sugar substitutes.
❑ Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and processed foods.
❑ Investigate the possibility that food allergies are causing or contributing to depression.
❑ Have a hair analysis to rule out heavy metal intoxication as the cause of depression.
❑ Keep your mind active, and get plenty of rest and regular exercise. Studies have shown that exercise—walking, swimming, or any activity that you enjoy—is most important for all types of depression. Avoid stressful situations.
❑ Learn to recognize, and then to “reroute,” negative thinking patterns. Working with a qualified professional to change ingrained habits can be rewarding (cognitive behavioral therapists specialize in this type of work). Keeping a daily log also can help you to recognize distorted thoughts and develop a more positive way of thinking.
❑ If you are suffering from situational depression—depression that occurs in response to an event such as in the death of a loved one or the breakup of a relationship—try using Ignatia amara. This is a homeopathic remedy derived from a plant. The Saint Ignatius bean, that helps control emotions during periods of extreme grief and hysteria.
❑ If depression is seasonal (SAD), light therapy may help. For information about devices for this type of light treatment, contact either The SunBox Company or Apollo Health.
❑ Take the underarm test to detect an underactive thyroid. If your temperature is low, consult your physician. Thyroid dysfunction is behind many depressive disorders.
❑ Try using color to alleviate depression.