1. How to Beat Depression… with Diet

    August 24, 2013

    beat depression

    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:

     

    An omelet

    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.

     

    Ancient grains

    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.

     

    Green tea

    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.

     

    In conclusion

     

    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


  2. 7 Simple Tips for Getting Through Postpartum Depression

    August 17, 2013

    Postpartum Depression

    by Angela Henderson

     

    Motherhood. It’s suppose to be one of the most rewarding times in your life. A time that is filled with joy, love, excitement, but for many new mothers this is not how they feel, it’s actually the opposite. Overwhelmed, sleep deprived, confused, mother’s guilt, feeling isolated, second guessing and wondering is this what motherhood is really all about.  During pregnancy and the first year following the birth of a baby, women are more likely to experience depression and anxiety then at any other time.  With depression and anxiety impacting so many amazing women it’s important to identify what the difference between new mother baby blues vs a mood disorder is and having a few simple strategies that might help to ease into a more positive experience as a new mother.

     

    Step 1: Identify the Difference between Baby Blues vs Postpartum Depression

     

    All new mothers will experience baby blues to different degrees due to new hormones kicking in and mixed with such a huge life changing moment. It’s important to note that postpartum depression may not happen right away, in fact it maybe many months after the birth or loss of a child when everything starts to peak. Click here for a detailed understanding of the difference between baby blues and postpartum depressions

     

    Step 2: See Your Family Doctor

     

    Your family doctor for the most part, is typically someone who has been in your life for at least a little while and has an understanding of who you are. The sooner you can make an appointment to see your family doctor the better. Be open and honest with your doctor about the way you’ve been feeling. Cry if you need to cry. Your doctor can discuss with you an array of different options that will best suit you. It maybe therapy, it maybe medication, it might a combination, but what ever route you take the process has slowly started on your recovery to feeling better.

     

    Step 3: Surround Yourself with Support

     

    Ruth Nonacs MD/Ph.D wrote a beautifully written book called “A Deeper Shade of Blue”, where she talks about at length the challenges around caring for babies/children in the Western world and the extreme social isolation that comes with this. She also takes it one step further and identifies that “in traditional cultures, a family would gather around the mother directly after the birth of a child, in order to help her learn how to care for her child. But nowadays most women with young children spend most of their time at home, without support and alone.”

     

    So start to surround yourself with support. Join a mother’s group. Most town/cities will have a variety of mother’s groups that you can utilize. By joining a mother’s group, you will have the chance to connect with other women who are going through a similar journey to yourself. They can support you, listen to you, talk to you and cry with you. Mother’s groups are also a wonderful way for your babies to start experiencing the world through play, socialization and new surroundings.

     

    To find a local mother’s group, speak with your family doctor, look in your local newspaper, ask family and friends or even google it.

     

    Another important factor is to ask and accept help from your family. It’s ok to ask for help; in fact it’s a strength. It can also be the small things that increase mothers feeling depressed and anxious; examples: dishes not getting done, laundry piling up, vacuuming etc. Your family will want to help, so let them. They love you and your new baby so embrace this. Ask them to cook you a meal twice a week and invite them to stay and help with the dishes laundry etc. Remember they are family and will do anything for you.

     

    Step 4: Sleep

     

    I believe sleep is the most important part of the equation to feeling better. There has been a lot of research completed around the world that talks about the correlation with depression and lack of sleep. If you don’t have sleep, its simple, your body can not and will not function. Things will start to spiral out of control the less sleep you get, which is difficult in day to day life, but even ten fold when you have a new baby and are already sleep deprived. So the saying “sleep when the baby sleeps” is truly the best advice for mothers. However, the reality of this happening can be difficult especially if you have more than one child, need to work etc.  Therefore, even if you can go to bed early even one night a week at 7:00pm you will start to feel better.

     

    Step 5: Get Some Fresh Air and Sunshine

     

    The majority of us mothers are tired, have limited energy and quite frankly the last thing we want to do is to get dressed and walk out the front door. In saying that, one of the best things we can do as mothers is to get outside for some fresh air and sunshine.

     

    Besides the obvious of getting out and getting exercise, it’s the Vitamin D that is the important part. We are learning that the power of Vitamin D may prevent and even assist in treating symptoms of depression.

    To keep things simple, Vitamin D increases the serotonin levels in the human brain. Serotonin is a chemical that is imperative to maintaining a balanced mood and can even decrease your chances of feeling depressed. In addition, Vitamin D is also necessary for the body’s production of dopamine, which is a potent mood-lifting neurotransmitter, so grab your shoes, pop on your hat and slap on sunscreen and hit the sunshine.

     

    Step 6: Connect with Online Support

     

    We live in a world where technology is at our finger tips, so use the internet as a tool in taking steps to feeling better. There are so many wonderful blogs across the world that focuses on positive components of motherhood, while at the same time being real and remember you are a great mother. I would strongly recommend the following blogs to connect with Be a Fun Mum (http://beafunmum.com/), Seek Act Love (http://seekactlove.com/) and The Imperfect Mum (http://www.theimperfectmum.com.au/)

     

    Step 7: Smile

     

    Remember to smile because “every smile makes you a day younger.” ~Chinese Proverb”

     

    Author Bio:  Angela Henderson is a Clinical Social with a special interest in parental mental health.  In addition to caring for her patients, she sources and supplies toys and products for babies and children that assist them to meet early childhood developmental milestones.  Angela was educated in the United States but is now located in Australia.

    Image source/credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/donhomer/1500448757/