Depression – it’s such a heavy topic to write about.
Did you know that by the year 2020, depression could be the leading cause of death in the world next to heart disease?
This is mainly because of suicide.
My heart broke as I researched this topic; I typed in #depression on Instagram and discovered a completely different world. So many people with anxiety, eating disorders, low self-esteem and self-hate.
I have experienced depression firsthand, and it has touched people in my family too, which is why I really want to shed some light on this condition. I hope, as you read this, if you feel sad, hopeless, worthless or inadequate that you reach out to someone.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
The Facts about Depression – A Multifaceted Illness
Depression affects 1 in 5 people! Epidemiological data has revealed that females are also twice as likely to suffer from this condition. This isn’t to say that men don’t experience it. In fact, it is thought that men show signs of depression in a different manner compared to women. Men may present with irritability but research depression scales place less weight on irritability than anhedonia (inability to experience pleasure from activities usually found enjoyable) which may skew results.
There are many types of depression and many different biological and psychological models theorising the cause of it.
The biopsychosocial model of depression aligns the closest to my beliefs with the cause of depression being very much individual, complex and multifactorial. It’s one of the few models that encompasses a variety of emotional, social, physical, biological and spiritual factors which are vital for holistic treatment. Basically, everyone is different. Therefore, the cause of depression will be different for everyone and treatment will be different for everyone.
Genetic make-up, biochemistry, chemical imbalances in the brain, personality traits, the way a person thinks, environmental factors and social interactions all affect an individual’s ‘vulnerability’ to developing the condition.
Nutritionally speaking, there are a few dietary and lifestyle changes that can be implemented to reduce feelings of depression. I’ll only talk about two in this post, but please message me if you would like some more information about other treatments. Of course, changes to diet and lifestyle aren’t a cure for depression. For some people, depression may be so severe they may not respond to dietary intervention.
Saffron: Spice Up Your Life
Did you know that saffron is just as effective as fluoxetine (aka Prozac) for treating depression?
The Journal of Ethnopharmacology published a study in 2005 involving 40 patients with mild to moderate clinical depression to observe the effects of saffron vs. Prozac. Patients were randomly assigned to receive 30mg/ day of saffron or 20mg/day of Prozac. The results were astonishing.
Saffron was found to be just as effective as Prozac with a steady decline in depressive symptoms over 6 weeks. A common side effect of anti-depressants like Prozac, unfortunately, is sexual dysfunction (or low libido), which occurs in approximately 20% of people. Saffron, on the other hand, is known to have very little side effects – if any at all!
What else can help lift a depressed mood?
Answer = Exercise
Get Your Blood Pumping
The jury is in. Exercise has consistently shown to improve mood and well-being. Research shows that high intensity exercise is more effective than low intensity – so make sure you’re puffing during your workout.
It’s believed that exercise is so effective for depression because it modulates the HPA axis, increases expression of 5-HT and increases the amount of circulating testosterone.
This information may be a bit complicated to understand so in simple terms, exercise can help to rebalance hormones like serotonin (the ‘happy hormone’), testosterone (testosterone deficiency is associated with depressive symptoms) and cortisol. Modulation of the HPA (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal) axis can also increase BDNF – an important growth factor that nourishes nerve cells; low BDNF has been associated with low mood.
There are, of course, a plethora of other treatment strategies depending on the type of depression. I can certainly help with the nutritional side of things but, as I mentioned before, depression is complex. It’s important to have a strong support network, address lifestyle and nutritional imbalances and do what works for you. Call someone – a friend, a family member, a doctor or even a hotline to talk about how you feel.
I know what it’s like to feel depressed and alone. But, trust me, there is help out there.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE – 1 in 5 people suffer from depression so imagine the millions of other people that feel the same way!
If you or anyone you know is suffering from depression and is suicidal, please call the Lifeline Hotline on 13 11 14 (Australian Residents).
If you would like to know more information or found this post interesting, I would love to hear from you. I offer private nutrition and lifestyle consultations and would love to help you on your health journey. Want more information about depression? Read my other post about depression and boosting your mood with plants.
I hope everyone has a relaxing week!
Love Stace x
*Disclaimer: My posts are not meant to be individualised treatment plans, protocols, etc. I share what I research and use, and that is it. They are meant to spark thought based on the normal anatomy, physiology and biochemistry of the body. The information contained in this blog should not be used to treat or diagnose disease or health problems and is provided for your information only.