A common sign of depression is continually ruminating on past events. A depressed person may feel as though they don’t connect with those in the present because they’re still living in the past. They feel different or distant from all those around them and often feel like no one can understand.
Alternatively, someone who is constantly focusing on the future and imagining the outcome may be diagnosed with anxiety. Because their minds have limited information, they tend to fill in the gaps based on their experiences from the past, like failures, trauma, or abuse. That creates an overwhelming fight or flight reflex, cortisol kicks in, and the feeling of anxiety rushes over them.
Medications can have profound and life-altering side effects, and yet many people are told medications are the only option for these conditions. But there are alternatives, and chronic depression and anxiety can actually be totally reversed, often without these potentially harmful medications.
WHAT ARE THE CAUSES?
It generally takes two or more of these four known factors to trigger depression or anxiety.
Mental/mind/emotional stressors include Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE’s), physical and emotional traumas such as abuse, brain injury or infection, life-threatening experiences, and multiple life stressors such as death, divorce, serious disease, accident, etc.
Dietary food choices can cause inflammation, a weakened immune system, food sensitivities, allergies, microbiome imbalances, hormone imbalances, and nutrient deficiencies from lack of nutrients and/or inability to absorb nutrients.
Environmental stressors may include heavy metal toxicity, mold, parasites, and Lyme disease and its coinfections. These can cause a weakened immune system, inflammation, and nutrient deficiencies.
Leaky gut or intestinal permeability is a condition in which the junctions in the gut are open bigger than they should be, letting things into areas where they shouldn’t be. And when things get in that shouldn’t be there the body starts attacking it. Then autoimmunity and neurodegeneration starts getting triggered because the body can’t tell the difference between the large foreign particles and the normal particles of the body. So then the body attacks its own particles, such as in specific organs like the thyroid, adrenals, joints, nerves, and even the brain.
EFFECTS OF ANTIDEPRESSANTS AND SSRIS
Medications have their place, but they never heal illness. While they may sometimes be needed, ideally their use will only be for the short term because they only help to suppress symptoms, but then the brain actually pushes back and more medication is needed which increases the side effects.
The goal should be to help people discover the underlying issues that are triggering their mental illness so they can address those and actually get well instead of just masking symptoms through medication.
Both antidepressants and antipsychotics cause problems with mental processing and memory, and start impairing frontal lobe function, which is important for logic, self-control, and moral reasoning. And they make the person apathetic, meaning they don’t really care about things anymore. In addition, the combination of opiates with benzodiazepines can often be very lethal.
THE BEST APPROACH IS HOLISTIC
The human brain can change, and when we find out the causes of the problems and use a comprehensive approach, the brain can become as effective as it was meant to be.
While there are some factors that we cannot/could not control—childhood abuse, deaths, accidents, etc.—the sooner we begin a lifestyle that reduces the factors that cause illness and increase the factors that cause health, the more likely we’ll be able to turn around any illnesses we may have, including depression and anxiety, or at least prevent or slow their advancement.
While acute inflammation is an essential part of the immune system’s ability to defend the body from infection, chronic inflammation can have dire results. In a study published in the Journal of Neuroinflammation in 2013, scientists established that the evidence supports a strong correlation between brain inflammation and psychiatric illness. In this same study, the connection between these conditions and autoimmune disease was also established. This helps us to understand that brain inflammation is a major factor in both chronic diseases and in psychiatric illness like depression and anxiety. By making some simple changes and adding in the nutrients we are lacking, we can see a vast improvement in our entire system, and our immune system will run more efficiently overall.
NUTRITION AND DIET
Many people feel that to have to restrict their diet or leave things out that they enjoy would be depriving them of a full and happy life. But few people realize that it is possible to have the full benefits of a healthy diet, still have delicious food, and feel and experience amazing benefits from healthier foods. Many activities in life can really bring joy and fulfillment that are missed out on when the diet is lacking in nutrients that the body needs to run optimally.
Research regarding dietary intervention with depression and anxiety indicates there’s only one diet that has been shown to improve depression and anxiety significantly, and it starts to do it in as little as two weeks. That’s a plant-based diet.
Animal products increase inflammation in the brain. Arachidonic acid and oxidized cholesterol, which come from eating animal products, are both pro-inflammatory.
Sugar, refined carbs, and processed foods also increase inflammation and decrease the ability of the brain to change in a healthy way.
These products leave us deficient of nutrients. They were first stripped of many nutrients and then “enriched” by putting a few back in, plus the added vitamins and nutrients are often not in a bioavailable form, and our bodies are not able to use them. When foods come to us naturally from nature, they are in the perfect combination of vitamins and nutrients that can be readily absorbed and utilized by our bodies.
Decreasing inflammation decreases the over activity in the emotional part of the brain and enhances the frontal lobe, which balances the brain so the person can think more clearly, make better decisions, have better self-control, and not make stupid errors and decisions.
Depression clears up much better with an optimal diet of fresh fruits and greens loaded with polyphenols and antioxidants, and it’s the whole food that has the most optimal effect on the body and brain.
TAKE THE CHALLENGE
Go on a plant-based diet for the next week. See what it’s like with just fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Then slowly incorporate good healthy greens back into your diet, and your body will respond very well.
Drink lots of water and cut out coffee, which can cause a lot of anxiousness and also messes with your neurotransmitters and serotonin.
SPECIAL MENTION FOODS
Turmeric is one of the most powerful anti-inflammatory foods we have, especially the extract from turmeric, called curcumin. Turmeric is not commonly used in the US, but Indian food has a lot of turmeric with all the curry.
Herbs for depression and anxiety include St. John’s Wort, the mints, and chamomile tea, which help calm down and uplift the spirits.
Ginger is loaded with antioxidants and potent anti-inflammatory properties, and is believed to play an important role in the health of the brain. A 2012 study found that ginger extract helped improve cognitive function and attention in middle-aged women.
Pumpkin Seeds are highly essential for the functioning of the nervous system. They help to produce GABA, an anti-stress neurochemical in the brain, nervous irritability and other mental conditions. Pumpkin seed oil exhibits anti-inflammatory effects.
Flaxseeds are high in those all-important omega-3 fatty acids that are essential for brain development and function. Flax contains alpha-linolenic (ALA), a type of omega-3 fatty acid that boosts the cerebral cortex, an area of the brain that processes sensory information.
Walnuts & Almonds contain a number of neuroprotective compounds, including vitamin E, folate, melatonin, omega-3 fats, and antioxidants. They may support brain health, cognition, and memory.
Avocados are “full of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats that promote healthy blood flow in the brain, along with several of the brain’s most valued nutrients, including folate, vitamin C, vitamin E, and copper. The B vitamins in avocados relieve stress and keep nerves and brain cells healthy. Its high amount of potassium helps lower blood pressure. And the monounsaturated fats also help support information-carrying nerves in your brain, according to research from the Federation of American Societies of Experimental Biology.”
HOW TO GET STARTED
The best way to get started is to recognize that food is just food and that some foods are healthier than others, and the same goes for beverages. Therefore, every bite of food you eat or beverage you drink will either contribute to or diminish your health. If you indulge yourself one day, just eat healthier the next. Your level of health becomes the result of your level of choices.
You’ll feel so much better when you have that one meal a day that’s plant based and you’ll say, “Well, maybe I’ll have two meals,” and then it comes out of your own experience and that ultimately is what makes it sustainable.