If you suffer from frequent bouts of anxiety or depression, but are leery about the safety and effectiveness of taking antidepressant drugs — and rightfully so, because these chemical “panaceas” do not even work (http://www.naturalnews.com) — then the following information is for you. Contrary to popular opinion, most cases of what is commonly diagnosed as depression are fully treatable through simply dietary and lifestyle changes, none of which involve medicating yourself with mind-altering pharmaceuticals.
In his book The Depression Cure, clinical psychologist Dr. Steve Ilardi, Ph.D., outlines six specific ways to treat depression naturally without the use of chemical drugs. Each of these six approaches aims to address the root causes of most cases of depression, these being lack of fulfilling relationships, nutrient deficiency, and inadequate exercise. By implementing what he calls the Therapeutic Lifestyle Change approach, or TLC, Dr. Ilardi says virtually all of his depression patients experienced dramatic improvements, including those that had previously tried drugs and other conventional approaches.
“TLC addresses the modern depression epidemic at is source: the fact that human beings were never designed for the poorly nourished, sedentary, indoor, sleep-deprived, socially isolated, frenzied pace of twenty-first-century life,” explains Dr. Ilardi in the introduction to his book. “The program provides a long-overdue, common-sense remedy for a contemporary American lifestyle that’s drifted dangerously off course” (http://thedepressioncurebook.com/excerpt.html).
Eliminate your doldrum through diet, exercise, and relationships
Drawing from many of the concepts delineated in Dr. Ilardi’s book, this article will highlight some practical steps you can begin taking today to overcome your depression and take back your life. With the exception of certain extreme and somewhat rare forms of depression that involve severe chemical imbalances, most people who suffer from depression symptoms, whether they be regular feelings of sadness and despair or the occasional “off” days, can benefit from following these simple steps.
1) Eat more foods high in omega-3 fatty acids. Mainstream medicine typically overlooks or ignores the role that food and nutrition play in mental health. But many conventional doctors are beginning to wake up to the fact that omega-3 fatty acids, for instance, which are found in fatty fish, hemp seeds and oil, chia seeds, walnuts, grass-fed meats and butter, and pastured eggs, play a significant role in modulating brain chemistry. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), two of the primary omega-3s in fish oil, just so happen to be major structural components of the brain.
As explained in a 2005 study published in the journal Drugs, DHA is a critical component of neuronal membranes in the brain, which means this particular omega-3 directly affects the way brain neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin are produced and used. EPA is similar in that, together with DHA, it regulates biochemical changes in the brain. And low levels of these and other omega-3s, it turns out, are directly associated with depression, schizophrenia, and various other mental illnesses (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15907142).
2) Get more exercise and stop eating junk food. It may seem cliche, but simply moving your body more can help trigger the production of “happy” chemicals in the brain, and thus improve your mood in a noticeable way. The goal here is to get that blood flowing at least once a day, whether it be through taking a walk, jogging in place, stretching, going to the gym, or even just cleaning out your closet or garage — whatever it takes to keep your body in motion rather than in a prolonged sedentary position will help cleanse those negative thoughts that drag you down and lift your spirits (http://www.health.harvard.edu).
To go along with this, make sure you are eating clean, organically-grown foods that are free of pesticides, artificial chemicals, genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), refined sugars, and processed flours, as these additives tend to throw off brain chemistry. It is also beneficial to cut out excess coffee and alcohol consumption, as these foods can lead to drastic highs and lows that may exacerbate depression symptoms.
3) Spend more time with loved ones, develop new friendships. Many people in modern society limp along through life isolated from one another, which can consciously and subconsciously lead to feelings of loneliness and sadness. Whether you realize it or not, you need meaningful human connections and an outlet to both give and receive love. Developing real friendships, for instance, can make all the difference in alleviating feelings of despair and hopelessness.
Though this might be easier said than done, forcing yourself to engage socially with other people, even when you feel like retreating into hibernation and solitude, will provide opportunities for you to open up about your own life and become involved in the lives of others. Engaging socially in this way will help shift some of the focus away from yourself and your own problems, and allow for the cultivation of mutually-beneficial relationships in which depression will have a much harder time flourishing.
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