Safe ways to address depression

woman-fibroThere’s little disagreement that depression can be a serious issue, but whether drugs are the best approach is increasingly drawing controversy.

This is especially pertinent in light of a  new British Medical Journal (BMJ) which analyzed data from about 30,000 women and found a link between the use of the antidepressant Paxil (paroxetine) and heart, brain, and skull birth defects.

Unfortunately, even during pregnancy about 14 percent of US women are prescribed antidepressants by their pharmaceutically minded physicians.

Yet, most studies suggest that the difference between antidepressants and placebo pills is very small and that they are ineffective for most depressed patients, with only the most severely depressed individuals showing any response at all.

For the group to which they are most often prescribed (mild-to-moderate depression) there is little evidence that they have any benefit at all.

Usually the benefit for mild-to-moderately depressed individuals is non-existent at best and the long-term use of antidepressant drugs may result in more relapses, creating a more chronic condition, with some researchers  suggesting that antidepressants sensitize the brain to more long-term (chronic) depression, actually causing more depression.

With an 85 percent chronic relapse rate, SSRI drugs have been termed “ab-normalizing” (rather than “normalizing” agents.

Thankfully research confirms that there are safe and effective ways to address depression that do not involve unsafe drugs:

  • Slash your sugar consumption, especially fructose, grains, and processed foods. William Duffy wrote a superb book, The Sugar Blues, more than 30 years ago, which delved into the topic of sugar and mental health in detail,
  • Eat probiotic foods, such as fermented vegetables (pickles), to promote a healthy gut, which is suspected as being very important for mental health (avoiding sugar also helps the health of your gut, as does the fiber in vegetables, such as Jicama).  And because the health of the mother’s gut dictates the health of the newborn baby’s, this is especially important during pregnancy,
  • Poorly balanced diets (including diets which lack animal products) can lead to vitamin B12 deficiency, which can contribute to depression,
  • Get some sun because optimal vitamin D is linked with mood, with very low levels often found in those prone to depression.  And this also applies during pregnancy,
  • Feed your brain with plenty of omega-3 healthy fats (your brain is 60 percent fat).  A good source is sardines and anchovies,
  • With the assistance of your nutritional coach, evaluate your sodium intake, because consuming too little sodium causes symptoms which are quite similar to depression,
  • We all should be getting some exercise but for those of us who suffer from depression it is 10 times more important, and finally,
  • Sleep well.  The idea that sleep is an unimportant waste of time is a myth, usually promoted by those who want to suck our energy!  Indeed, the links between sleep disorders and depression are inextricable.  And if you are overweight with a sleep disorder, lose weight now.

Don’t give in to the ignorant stigma of society which dictates that asking for help is a sign of weakness.

None of us are perfect, to pretend that we are is truly a mistake, and to admit our flaws and imperfections (even our mental issues) and to find healthful solutions may be one of the most loving things we can do for our children and grandchildren, as many of these conditions have a genetic component to them.

Just don’t trust the pharmaceutical approach as your first-line treatment!

This information is not to be considered or used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please talk to your health care provider for anything related to your health including but not limited to diagnosis, treatment advice and/or care. Always seek the advice of a health care professional. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem or condition, please contact a qualified health care professional immediately. If you are in the United States and are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911 or call for emergency medical help on the nearest telephone.