The issue of how to deal with depression is more important than you might think. I recently wrote to you on the subject of male depression because it is such an unrecognized but serious issue. The World Health Organization has predicted that by the year 2030, more people will be affected by depression than any other health problem. Not good news.
We’ve explored why men are at risk:
Their symptoms are different from women’s
Their coping behaviors are aggressive
It’s currently taboo for men to admit being depressed
Still, 6 million men per year are diagnosed with depression – that we know of – and the numbers are growing.
Which begs the question of just how to deal with depression. Are there any natural cures for depression? Is there anything you can do on your own besides taking anti-depressant drugs?
Actually, there are.
The Nutritional Approach
It only makes sense that your body may be craving nutrients it needs – nutrients that can be therapeutic in how to deal with depression. Here are some remedies that studies have shown to be helpful:
St. John’s Wort: this remedy has long been used in Europe, especially Germany, as a mood elevator. Studies have shown it to be more effective than a placebo although it takes a number of weeks before it begins to take effect.
B Vitamins. A good supply will increase the efficacy of prescription antidepressants. Folic acid and vitamin B6 are helpful in cases of mild depression
Vitamin D: There is a definite link between this “sunshine vitamin” and depression, especially if you live in an area where the days are shorter in the winter months.
Omega 3s. These fatty acids found in fish oil are an excellent source of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an essential fatty acid found in nerve and brain tissue. Normal levels relieve mild to moderate depression.
SAMe. This synthetic version of S-adenosyl-L-methionine (say that three times fast!) proved to be an effective natural antidepressant, “superior to a placebo” when it was reported on in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition by Harvard Researchers. It also worked more quickly than St. John’s Wort.
The Lifestyle Approach
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 20 years, you know that how you take care of yourself on an everyday basis (food/exercise/daily habits) determines a large part of your overall health. Consider:
Sunlight and Light Therapy. No doubt about it, sunshine is good for your health. Many people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) when the days grow shorter in the winter months of the year. Sleep, productivity and state of mind are all affected when more of the day is dark than light. Phytotherapy, which uses light boxes of full-spectrum light to simulate sunlight is very effective in combating seasonal depression
Anti-Inflammatory Diet. This is basically a healthy diet of lean proteins, plus fresh fruits and vegetables, while limiting refined carbohydrates. Adding a source of omega 3s from fish or fish oil supplements is key. Keeping your body in balance helps alleviate depression and many other illnesses attributed to lifestyle.
Aerobic Exercise. Numerous studies point to regular aerobic exercise for relief of depression. 30 minutes, 5 days a week will boost your mood and your self-confidence.
The Alternative Approach
Massage. A good massage works the kinks out of your body and increases the production of endorphins, feel-good compounds that give you a sense of well-being.
Accupunture. This may make you think merely of those tiny needles used for treatment, but there’s a reason the Chinese have been using acupuncture for centuries. Research confirms it prompts the body to produce chemicals that decrease or eliminate pain. The World Health Organization recognizes acupuncture as effective in relieving mild to moderate depression.
Meditation/Relaxation. Learning to calm yourself helps tremendously with agitated behaviors, which is a major factor in male depression. Decreasing muscle tension translates to lower blood pressure and less production of cortisol, the stress hormone.
Don’t dismiss the role of pharmaceuticals in treating moderate to severe depression. Many, many years and millions of dollars have gone into the research of how to deal with depression on a physiological level. While you may hate the thought of such treatment, there are valid chemical reasons why anti-depressants can relieve depressive symptoms.
Often, a combination of pharmaceutical and natural treatments will be the most effective solution for how to deal with depression. Your body does not operate in a vacuum. Rather, all systems work together, affect each other and combine to make a whole greater than the sum of its parts.
Male depression is serious, but it is very treatable. If you recognize a problem in yourself or someone you know, this health alert is for you.
Please consult your personal physician before making any changes at all to your diet, exercise and supplement program.
Weil, Andrew, MD, “Integrative Mental Health: A New Model For Depression Relief”, HuffingtonPost.com, Nov 18, 2009
“Male Depression: Understanding the issues”, MayoClinic.com
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