Some people do not admit sadness or guilt; instead they withdraw and hide from society. They lose all interest in things around them and become incapable of any pleasure. Things appear bleak and time passes slowly for them. They are typically angry and irritable. They often try sleeping off their depression or do nothing but sit or lay around. In most people depression is not severe. They can still function, but do so at a lower capacity and at a slower pace.
Symptoms of depression include chronic fatigue syndrome, insomnia or sleeping frequently and for excessive periods of time, loss of appetite or a ravenous appetite, headaches, backaches, colon disorders, and feeling of worthlessness and inadequacy. Many think of death and consider suicide.
Depression may be caused by tension, upset stomach, stress, headache, nutritional deficiencies, poor diet, sugar, mononucleosis, thyroid disorders, endometriosis (linked to depression in women), any serious physical disorders, or allergies. Some people become more depressed in the winter months when days are shorter and darker. The sun and bright light seem to trigger a response to a brain hormone known as melatonin (produced by the pineal gland), which is, in part, responsible for preventing the “blues.” Stay in brightly lit rooms on dark days. Research reveals that two hours of morning sun is very effective in lifting depression. The evening light had comparatively little results.
Depression begins with a disturbance in the part of the brain that governs moods. Most people can handle everyday stresses; their bodies readjust to these pressures. When stress is too great for a person and his adjustment mechanism is unresponsive, depression may be triggered.
It has been discovered that foods greatly influence the brain’s behavior. Diet is most often the cause of depression, related to poor eating habits and constant snacking on junk foods. The brain’s neurotransmitters, which regulate our behavior, are controlled by what we eat. The neurotransmitters are dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. When the brain produces serotonin, tension is eased. When it is produces dopamine or norepinephrine, we tend to think and act more quickly and are generally more alert. Eating carbohydrates alone seems to have a calming effect, while proteins increase alertness. Protein meals containing essential fatty acids and/or carbohydrates are recommended for increased alertness. Salmon and white fish are good choices. Avoid foods, high in saturates fats; consumption of pork or fried foods, such as hamburgers and French fries, leads to sluggishness, slow thinking, and fatigue. Fats inhibit the synthesis of neurotransmitters by the brain in that they cause the blood cells to become sticky and to clump together, resulting in poor circulation, especially to the brain.
At the neurochemical and physiological level, neurotransmitters are extremely important. These substances carry impulses between nerve cells. The substance that processes the neurotransmitter called serotonin is the amino acid tryptophan. It increases the amount of serotonin made by the brain. Complex carbohydrates, which raise the level of tryptophan in the brain, have a calming effect; protein promotes the production of dopamine and norepinephrine, which promote alertness. A balance is achieved when the diet contains a combination of these two nutrients. A turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread is a good combination: the turkey is high in protein and tryptophan, and the whole wheat bread supplies complex carbohydrates. Consume more carbohydrates than protein if you are nervous and wish to become more relaxed or eat more protein than carbohydrates if you are tried and wish to become more alert. A depressed person who needs his spirits lifted would benefit from eating foods like turkey and salmon, which are high in tryptophan and protein.
Beware: The body will react 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 is quickly accompanied by fatigue and depression.
Tyrosine is also needed for brain function. This amino acid may be good for those who have prolonged and intense stress. Uncontrollable stress may thereby be prevented or revered if this essential amino acid is obtained in the diet.
Heredity is a significant factor in depression. In up to 50 percent of people suffering from recurrent episodes of depression, one or both of the parents were depressive.
A raw fruit and vegetable diet, with soybeans and their by-products, is important. Diets too low in complex carbohydrates can cause serotonin depletion and depression.
Avoid phenylalanine. It contains the chemical phenol, which is highly allergenic. Most depressed people are “allergic” to certain substances. However, there is a brand of amino acid available that does not contain phenylalanine; it is produced by Ecological Formulas.
Those suffering from manic depression should avoid choline, ornithine, and arginine. These substances may make the disorder worse.
If taking MAO inhibitor drugs, avoid tyrosine. It can raise the blood pressure. Also consume the following foods in moderation: avocados, cheese, chocolate, herring, meat tenderizer, raisins, sour cream, soy sauce, yeast extracts, yogurt, and wine and beer.
Beware of hypoglycemia, allergies, hypothyroid, and malabsorption. In these conditions vitamin B12 and folic acid are blocked from entering the system, thus leading to depression.
Keep your mind active and get plenty of rest. Avoid stressful situations as much as possible.