A Natural Approach to Managing Depression

by | Dec 1, 2013 | Mental Health

It was like I was trapped in a hole with a broken leg – and I still thought I could get out on my own and be fine.”

This description came from one of our clients, Betsy (name changed for privacy). It describes how she felt when trying to lose weight while also feeling depressed.

Tip: Don’t try to climb out of a hole with a broken leg.

Metaphorically speaking: fix the leg first, then climb out of the hole. In Betsy’s case, it was a matter of looking first at her routine, sleep and biochemical markers (such as inflammation, nutrients and organ behaviour) and getting support around these things first.

Depression is not always ‘in the mind’

There are many biochemical causes of depression. ‘Neurotransmitters’ – chemical messengers in the brain – are usually responsible here. Inflammation can be a cause of depression. As can an iron, vitamin B12, folate or vitmain D insufficency just to name a few. Suboptimal funciton of the thyroid is another!

Neurotransmitters rely on the nutrients we get from foods. So if what you are eating is not supplying them with what they need, then the neurotransmitters start dozing on the job.

The neurotransmitter ‘serotonin’ often crops up in conversations about depression. But there is another – often forgotten – called ‘dopamine’. Dopamine is central to your body’s idea of being motivated and feeling rewarded.

Dopamine – the magic little happiness messenger

If you are low on this magic little messenger. some of the tell-tale signs can be:

  • poor attention/focus
  • depression
  • lack of motivation
  • general fatigue and exhaustion
  • addictions (e.g. cigarettes, alcohol, carbohydrates)

People with low dopamine levels require more of things to feel pleasure, eg 3 peices of cake rather than 1, more alcohol, more carbohydrates, more smokes and cannot get pleasure from the little things in life like walking the dog or reading a book! 

Taking a natural approach to managing depression

If you gut is not functioning well this can effect both seratonin and dopamine production. If you don’t sleep well this can effect many things but it also effects your gut which in turn effects your neurotransmitter. 

When depressed you need support, you need people to be your motivation!

So the support might include:

  • Melatonin or magnesium or safe herbs to ensure sleep quality and duration is achieved
  • Moving to 3 savoury meals per day very simple uncomplicated which include protein and carbohydrates, regular, simple and easy (even if other foods that are not so great are being eaten at least these savoury meals ensure there is enough macronutrients to support neurotransmitter and basic nutrients.
  • Morning walks, for the endorphins which support mood and the routine to keep things on track.
  • Simple problem solving for any pressing issues.
  • adequate water intake between 1.5 to 2.5 litres per day.

A personalised approach to managing depression is essential

These techniques are critical to long term success and are common sense approaches.

As with any health issue, it is important to work from each person’s particular situation, creating manageable approaches from that basis – for both immediate and longer term results.

 

Contact Maria Harpas at Natural Health Medicine.