Although many individuals experience mood disorders, the causes are unique. It is important to treat the person, not just the disease.
Ultimately, a natural treatment approach to depression touches on many facets of a person's life with nutrition, stress and lifestyle habits a major focus.
Advice for depression can range from general dietary and lifestyle improvements, such as getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet and exercise, to more specific recommendations, such as avoiding caffeine and taking specialised natural remedies for depression.
Counseling or some form of psychotherapy may also be beneficial to help you deal with feelings of anxiety and despair.
Our thoughts determine our emotions, moods and life experiences. Patterns of behavior and negative reactions are usually so deeply engrained that it takes professional help to change them.
Don't let emotional problems become an excuse to let your healthy eating habits slide. Nutritious food is fundamental to your emotional wellbeing.
Carbohydrate foods naturally boost serotonin, helping you feel happier. Meanwhile, protein foods make you feel more alert and energetic and the healthy fats support optimal brain function. It is therefore important to balance healthy carbohydrates with adequate amounts of good fats and lean protein.
Carbohydrates such as fruit, vegetables and whole grain foods provide glucose for sustained energy. Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) can lead to psychological disturbances as the brain requires a constant supply of glucose, the primary fuel source. A fall in available glucose leads to fatigue, irritability and loss of concentration.
Your brain relies on protein to make neurotransmitters, the mood enhancing chemicals. Protein foods contain individual building blocks called amino acids - think tryptophan, tyrosine and phenylalanine.
Amino acids are needed to manufacture these happy brain chemicals, with serotonin the shining light when it comes to mood regulation. When your serotonin levels are in sync you feel happy, you sleep soundly and you eat well.
The richest source of essential amino acids are found in fresh fish, lean meat, soy products, dairy foods, organic eggs and the grains quinoa and amaranth.
Cold water fish, organic eggs, avocados, extra virgin olive oil, macadamia nut oil and raw nuts and seeds provide a plentiful supply of healthy fats, providing important nutritional support for the brain and nerve cells.
A Comprehensive Multivitamin Mineral Supplement
A wide range of nutrients have been shown to improve mood and the adaptation to stress, with nutrient deficiencies lowering production of neurotransmitters necessary for mood regulation. Supplementing with a multivitamin mineral supplement significantly reduce anxiety and perceived stress. If possible choose a high quality supplement that contains small amounts of lithium carbonate, a natural mood stabiliser.
Recommended therapeutic dose: 1 tablet daily
Fish Oils - Omega 3 Fats for Higher Brain Function
There now appears to be a definite link between healthy intake of omega 3 fats and a lower incidence of depression. The omega 3 fats from fish, wild game and plants were part of the diet of our ancestors but these are now being replaced by saturated fats and omega 6 polyunsaturated fats from common vegetables oils. The newer trans fats were not part of our evolutionary history either. This imbalance is linked to a higher incidence of depression & other mood disorders.
There are 15 trillion nerve cells contained within the human brain, with the marine based essential fatty acids play a pivotal role in the central nervous system and heightened brain function. Fish oils contain the long chain fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), the predominate fats of the brain.
Fish oil has also been found to be beneficial in alleviating post natal depression. A good quality fish oil supplement with a high ratio of EPA and DHA is recommended. Wild salmon, mackerel, halibut, sardines, herrings, anchovies and tuna are all natural dietary sources.
Recommended therapeutic dose of Fish Oils: 1000-3000mg daily
Herbal medicine has a long and highly respected history, making it a valuable addition to any natural treatment protocol for emotional disorders. Herbal medicine is often as effective and shows a low incidence of side effects compared to common prescription anti-depressants
Hypericum perforatum (St Johns Wort) is recognised world wide as a natural anti-depressant. The major constituents in St. John's wort include hypericin and flavonoids which work together to reduce nervous tension.
Caution: It is theoretically possible that concomitant use of St. John's wort with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI), the common medication for depression could produce a serotonin excess syndrome.
Withania somnifera (Withania or Indian ginseng) has long been used by Ayurvedic practitioners as a rejuvenating tonic. It is termed an adaptogenic herb as it improves the ability to adapt or deal with stress.
Piper methysticum (Kava) is native to many islands of the Pacific Ocean and is a well known remedy for anxiety. Kava contains high amounts of kava lactones. It is these constituents that are believed to relax the mind and body. Kava is a unique anti-anxiety alternative as it does impair reaction time or alertness. It should not be combined with alcohol.
The use of Valeriana officinalis (Valerian) for nervous conditions has been a widespread practice for many centuries. Valerian is indicated in insomnia, allowing an easier to transition to sleep. Valerian is not addictive and does not cause drowsiness the next day.
Note:This information should not be used as a substitute for the advice provided by your health practitioner. If you suspect you are experiencing depression, promptly seek professional advice. Do not cease taking your prescribed medication without the consent of your doctor.
You should always consult your qualified health practitioner regarding your personal health issues. Most nutritional and herbal preparations have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with medications. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs or supplements you should speak with a qualified health practitioner before starting a new therapy. Some natural supplements are not recommended during pregnancy or breast feeding due to a lack of scientific investigations. Consult a health practitioner immediately if you experience any possible side effects to a natural supplement you are taking.
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