Depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. It affects how an individual feels, thinks and behaves, and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. They may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, and depression may make them feel as if life isn’t worth living.
The causes and biological mechanisms of depression have not been determined, and no objective biological markers exist that correspond definitively with the disease state. However, twin, family, and adoption studies all indicate strongly that depression has a genetic component.
Causes / Risk factors
- Genetic disposition
- Biochemical imbalances of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, adrenaline and noradrenaline have all been implicated.
- Stress and pregnancy may trigger bipolar disorder
Symptoms & Signs
- Depressed mood
- Markedly diminished pleasure or interest in nearly all activities
- Significant weight loss or gain, or significant loss or increase in appetite
- Hypersomnia or insomnia
- Psychomotor retardation or agitation
- Loss of energy or fatigue
- Decreased concentration ability or marked indecisiveness
- Preoccupation with death or suicide; patient has either a plan or has attempted suicide
Diet and Lifestyle Considerations for Depression
- Counseling and/or psychotherapy can assist the patient in restoring self-esteem, problem solving, and coping with life stresses.
- Massage, aromatherapy and spa therapies have been shown to reduce anxiety and depression
- Acupuncture is effective in reducing the symptoms of anxiety and depression
- Regular exercise is crucial to reducing sympathetic nervous system overactivity and managing anxiety and elevating mood when depressed
- Yoga, Tai Chi or other relaxing activities may also be useful
- Recreational drugs should be avoided as they can aggravate symptoms and interfere with medications
- Patients should avoid coffee, cola and other caffeinated drinks.
- Reduce sugar and carbohydrates, as hypoglycaemia is a trigger for anxiety
- Adequate protein provides essential amino acids for healthy neurotransmitter production
- Emphasize foods high in magnesium, such as green vegetables and nuts.
- Small, regular meals help to regulate blood sugar levels.
- Avoid alcohol consumption.
- Consuming oily fish in the diet 3-4 times per week will increase essential omega-3 fatty acids.
- Avoid known food allergens
Integrative Treatments Overview
In order to obtain optimal results, the patient might consider a holistic approach that integrates several treatments to address biochemical, physiological, energetic, emotional and/or spiritual imbalances. These treatments can include Allopathic Medicine, Complementary Medicine, Biomedicine, Nutritional & Environmental Medicine, Functional Medicine, Orthomolecular Medicine, Energy Medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Naturopathy, Ayurvedic, musculoskeletal support, Psychology and more. It’s important that treatments are overseen by experienced and certified practitioners who are able to work in teams (see below for where to find one).
For Treatment options see Treatments menu at mindd.org
Nutritional & Environmental Medicine Overview
Nutritional & Environmental practitioners focus on cellular health by optimising nutrient uptake while minimising toxic exposure. Biomedicine, Functional Medicine and Orthomolecular Medicine are all subsets. The overall goal is to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress which are key drivers in chronic modern disease (e.g. asthma is inflammation of the lungs, arthritis is inflammation of the joints, eczema is inflammation of the skin, IBS involves inflammation of the gut and ADHD and Autism include inflammation of the brain). A combined approach of diet, lifestyle and natural therapies supports the body’s innate ability to heal and prevent disease by maintaining homeostasis (balance).
It is recommended that a patient consult a certified practitioner to assess their symptoms and case history and explore their individual need to:
- Screen for food sensitivities and allergies
- Implement dietary intervention geared to the individual (e.g. GAPS, Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Soy-Free, FodMAPS, Evolutionary, low oxalate/salicylate, Ketogenic)
- Supplement with vitamins, minerals, amino acids and probiotics
- Improve gastrointestinal health to support the vagus nerve and brain and immune function
- Support neurotransmitter function
- Supply fat soluble nutrients for brain structure and function
- Reduce toxicity and heavy metal accumulation
- Minimise infections (e.g. bacteria, yeast, virus, parasites) to reduce immune response and nutritional deficiencies that can impact on mental and physical health
- Regulate blood glucose and establish healthy eating habits
- Use energy healing (acupuncture, homeopathy, kinesiology, Emotional Freedom Technique)
Where can I find a certified practitioner?Finding a well-trained Integrative and/or Functional practitioner requires research but is a vital step in treating complex and chronic illness.
Below are links to lists of practitioners worldwide. We recommend you research the scope, expertise and experience of any practitioners you are considering.
U.S. & GlobalInstitute of Functional Medicine
Integrative Medicine for Mental Health
Medical Academy of Paediatric Special Needs (MAPS)
Australia & New ZealandMindd Foundation
The Australian College of Nutritional & Environmental Medicine (ACNEM)
UKThe British Society for Ecological Medicine
Disclaimer: Mindd Foundation does not endorse any specific individuals listed and makes no representations, warranties, nor guarantees and assumes no responsibility for any services provided. Mindd Foundation expressly disclaims all liability for damages of any kind as a result of using any products or services provided by those listed.