National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
A study conducted by the BayRidge Anxiety and Depression Treatment Center found that about 16 percent of adults will experience some form of depression during their lifetime. Other documented studies conducted in both Canada and the United States have discovered that each year millions of citizens suffer from severe clinical depression.
Although millions of people fall victim to this disease that plagues the mind, very few ever receive any treatment. Some people fear using anti-depressant medications, while others do not even realize that what they are experiencing is an actual sickness that can be treated. One of the common treatments of depression involves an improved diet and more active lifestyle.
Increasing Vitamin Intake to Decrease Depression
A diet that is insufficient in any of a number of nutrients may contribute to feelings of prolonged sadness or anxiety. The group of B vitamins is one that if under-consumed; may cause depression. Vitamin B6 is particularly valuable in fighting feelings of the blues because this nutrient works to balance the neurotransmitters within the brain. Make sure to obtain enough of this vitamin by eating foods such as chicken, liver, or other meats.
Vegetarians can consume good sources of vitamin B6 in foods like bananas, sweet potatoes, and spinach. Folate is another B vitamin that has deficiencies linked with depression. This vitamin can be easily obtained by eating almost any fruit or vegetable, but avocados and asparagus are particularly good sources.
Vitamin B1 (also known as thiamin) is yet another of the B vitamins that is connected to mood disorders. Whole wheat breads are a good source of thiamin which will help one feel more energetic and clear headed. Eating adequate amounts of these various B vitamins will help prevent and cure most forms of depression, although alone these vitamins may not always be enough.
How Certain Food Groups Affect Your Mood
Carbohydrates are another dietary source of anti depressants. A lack of carbohydrates results in a lack of serotonin in the brain. This absence of serotonin ultimately leads to sadness, stress, and mood swings. The plus side to all of this is that carbohydrates are found in an abundance of products, many of which are inexpensive. Why not kill two birds with one stone and eat more whole wheat bread? This will not only provide the body with carbohydrates that create serotonin, but will also be an excellent source of the previously mentioned thiamin. Carbohydrates are the most heavily consumed macronutrient in the average North American diet already, so finding foods to increase this intake should be easy!
Omega 3 fatty acids are another group of nutrients that must be watched carefully in cases of depression. Fat makes up approximately 60 percent of the human brain, and omega three is the healthiest type of fat that can be used to promote proper brain functioning. This fatty acid cannot be produced by the body meaning it must be obtained within the diet to prevent deficiencies.
Omega 3 has been shown to possibly increase mood while improving other brain functions at the same time. In other words, a happy person needs a healthy brain, and a healthy brain needs omega 3 fatty acids.
This type of fat is not as easy to find as carbohydrates or the B vitamins, but can still be acquired in a variety of foods. Most seafood is rich in this nutrient (salmon and mackerel are particularly good sources), and many eggs now contain omega 3. Usually the eggs that contain a valuable source of this fatty acid will advertise this fact on the top or side of the carton. These products are usually slightly more expensive, but this is a time where the saying “you can’t put a price on happiness” should apply. Happiness can be found in these foods, and for just a few extra bucks!
Another nutrient that is critical for a happy, healthy mind is selenium. Research has shown that those who consume low levels of this mineral tend to experience frequent anger and even sadness. Selenium can be found in many foods including poultry, mushrooms, and wheat. The cost of these products is relatively low so there should be no trouble consuming adequate amounts of this crucial mood-stabilizing mineral.
According to the FDA, about two billion people throughout the world suffered from a condition known as iron-deficiency anemia. That’s approximately one out of every three people on the planet! The symptoms involved with this lack of iron in the bloodstream are foul moods, pale skin and tiredness. The simple remedy to this problem is increasing the intake of iron-rich foods one’s diet. Dark meat is an excellent source of iron, as is leafy green vegetables for vegetarians. Vitamin C should be consumed in conjunction with iron as it helps the body absorb the mineral into the blood.
Foods to Avoid When Fighting Depression
Now that all of the foods that prevent and cure depression have been discussed, it is time to point out products that should be avoided. Some foods and beverages encourage emotional instability and throw the brain into a state of distress. Caffeine and sugar are two such foods. Studies have shown that reducing the intake of both sugar and caffeine for only one week helped lift many symptoms of depression in the subjects observed. This same study also demonstrated that after depression was lifted, a diet high in both of these products sent most of the subjects into a relapse of depression within one to two weeks. In other words, avoid sugary and caffeinated beverages including coffee, soda, and concentrated juices or cocktails. Foods such as chocolate bars and sweets should also be limited to promote a healthy and optimistic mindset.
Depression is a real disease. Many people seem to think that because this problem is associated with the mind it does not classify as a medical issue. This is simply incorrect. The brain is an organ just like the heart or the liver, and can malfunction just the same as any other part of the body.
The National Institute of Mental Health claims that suicide was the eleventh leading cause of death in the United States, and this figure has likely remained consistent over the past few years. The advice given in this article is suggested to help with feelings of depression; however anyone experiencing symptoms of this disease should visit a doctor to discover any underlying causes and possible treatment options.