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Depression -The Hidden Menace

Psychologists have historically battled with doctors as to the importance of their profession and its sufferers. It is easier to treat a disease that can be visibly seen than one that appears ‘simply in your head’. One such psychologist suggested those sufferers of so-called ’mental disorders’ should wear a bandage around their heads to show the world they too are unwell and in pain. The truth of the matter is that depression is an incredibly common debilitating disorder that can often ruin people’s lives.

Mental depression is an affected disorder characterized by altered moods. The different forms depression takes are Bipolar whereby the sufferer will fluctuate between mood and elation, formally described as manic depression; endogenous depression, without any apparent cause; and exogenous depression usually brought on by disappointment, illness, loss of a loved one or job. With all the branches of depression there is usually a loss of interest in all usually pleasurable activities such as friends, food, sex, entertainment, hobbies and recreational activities. Put simply the sufferer loses all joy in life.

Signs & Symptoms of depression are based on a diagnostic criteria which must include at least four of the following every day for at least two weeks. These include: poor appetite; significant weight loss or weight gain; insomnia or hypersomnia (sleeping for long periods); loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities; loss of libido; loss of energy or fatigue; feelings of worthlessness, excessive or inappropriate guilt; retardation; diminished ability to think or concentrate; and recurrent thoughts of death or suicide.

A scary fact is that at some point in their lives, most people on the planet have suffered some form of depression. So why is it so common?

Possible causative factors include mental and physical exhaustion; hypothyroidism; alcohol abuse; recreational drug abuse; loss of loved ones; sunlight deprivation; poor nutrient status; blood sugar imbalances; hormonal fluctuations; post natal; food allergies; deficiencies in certain amino acids; medication, drugs and the contraceptive pill; dehydration and dysbiosis or Candida overgrowth. Depression really is a dis-ease of this age.

Modern medical practices in the treatment of depression tend to simply suppress the symptoms. The most commonly used medication today is Prozac. As the side effects of such drugs are vast and great, many doctors these days such as my GP cousin will seek the advice of Naturopaths and Nutrition consultants like myself when treating this modern menace.

Naturopaths can do a great deal to assist in the treatment and management of depression as long as the causes of which clearly defined, for instance depression as a result of bereavement would need the assistance of a qualified counselor or psychotherapist. Clinical practice has shown bipolar and endogenous (with no apparent cause) depression to be as a direct result of nutritional deficiencies.

From a nutritional approach the following lifestyle changes would be advised: removal of all stimulants such as caffeine, alcohol, smoking, drugs etc..; eliminate refined carbohydrates and sugar; and eliminate food intolerances such as wheat and dairy. Introduce porridge oats as a breakfast meal to restore nervous system restoration; increase more tryptophan foods such as chicken, fish, turkey, beans, avocados, cottage cheese, wheat germ and bananas which act as a precursor to serotonin (the happy hormone); take omega 3 essential fatty acids daily along with a bowel detoxification and in-take daily probiotics for healthy gut flora.

Supplementing with vitamins C, B complex and folic acid also help to restore the body’s nutrient levels. In herbal medicine St. Johns Wort acts as an effective balancer taken in the evenings due to its sedative qualities and passiflora taken daily reduces anxiety and stress. Possible Candida overgrowth should also be treated.

Like all “modern ills”, coping mechanisms along with natural nutritional awareness and application can manage, prevent and reverse symptoms. Wonderful tools in dealing with depression include exercise as this releases serotonin specifically calming and uplifting exercises like yoga and Tai Chi. Aromatherapy comes into its limelight when treating mental and emotional states such as lavender and rose oils; as do the Bach flower remedies of mustard and star of Bethlehem. A combination of nature’s remedies and wholesome nutrition will restore balance and ensure inner harmony again.

‘Your Health is in Your Hands!’

©Article written by Caroline Evans