Depression is a common problem though its severity and symptoms do vary. Unlike occasional sadness that we all feel from time to time, depression is a chronic issue that claims around 850,000 lives each year. There are different types of depression including:
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) – A disorder that only affects people at certain times of he year, most notably around the winter months with a kind of ‘cabin fever,’ where you may find yourself feeling more sad than normal.
Postpartum Depression – A type of depression that occurs within women that have recently given birth. This form of depression can be a result of powerful emotions that can lead to psychotic episodes.
Bipolar Disorder – This affects 3 out of every 100 adults and can occur when the chemicals in your brain are not balanced.
How to spot the signs of depression?
There are ways to spot if you or a loved one are depressed, here are a few of the telltale signs:
- Constantly feeling sad, irritable or tense
- Lack of interest in the usual hobbies
- A lack of energy
- Changes in appetite, with either weight loss or gain
- A change in sleeping patterns
- A lack of concentration
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Thoughts of suicide and death
If you experience any of these thoughts for an extended period of time then it is important that you talk to clinical psychologist or psychotherapist, if left untreated depression gets much worse. Remember that depression is not always just a state of mind, often there are other factors too including hormone or chemical imbalances. I know that there is a social stigma surrounding depression and that it may feel easier to bottle up your feelings but this will not help in the long run.
Could your diet help?
Although depression is not always caused by one issue your diet can help you to take a step in the right direction. A lack of certain vitamins, nutrients and fatty acids can contribute to depression so it is important that you try to eat a healthy balanced diet, while avoiding any unnatural and processed food choices.
Here are a few food options that could help to improve your mood:
Eggs contain important B vitamins that have been shown to help lessen the severity of depression. Vitamins B-6 and B-12 are particularly important as they can improve neural function, meaning your moods can be improved.
Eggs also contain protein so can help keep you full for longer and can stabilize blood sugar levels meaning you wont experience those sugar highs and lows associated with high sugar foods.
Nuts and seeds
Both nuts and seeds contain magnesium that can naturally increase your production of serotonin, a chemical that helps you to feel good. They are the perfect alternative to traditional snacks as long as you stick to the unsalted and unsweetened versions.
Cold water fish
Cold water fish such as salmon, herring and mackerel are full of omega-3 fatty acids that can help increase the amount of grey matter in your brain. These fatty acids are an essential material for our brain. Those with severe depression have been noted as having less grey matter than others. Again fish is a good source of protein, so the usual benefits of protein can be experienced. It is unlikely that you can enough enough fish to get sufficient amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, you will likely need to take supplements as well. In case of depression you need supplements with high EPA-to-DHA ratio.
Grains such as quinoa and barley are less likely to be processed and refined with sugar so will not be digested as quickly as those refined with wheat flour and sugar. This will stop any blood sugar spikes and subsequent drop that can result in fatigue, food cravings and mood swings.
In most green tea varieties you will find the amino acid L-theanine that has been shown in EEG tests to stimulate alpha brain waves, which can help to improve your focus and have a calming effect on your body.
Depression is a serious condition and if you suffer from it then you should speak to a clinical psychologist, psychiatrist, or psychotherapist. A healthy diet can help, but it can only supplement psychotherapy.
Author Bio: Jac Jenkins is a stay at home Mom passionate about health and fitness. She writes about diets such as the Fasting Diet at her own blog.
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/abstrato/418493178