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 dopamine, serotonin, adrenalin 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, muscular-skeletal 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 gastro-intestinal 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 practitioner requires research. You can reference the lists below for one in your area and should consider checking references and interviewing several before you select one.
The World Anti-Aging Academy of Medicine can help you find Integrative practitioners throughout the world.
The American Academy of Anti-Aging has a directory of doctors, spas, clinics and products that support Integrative treatments for all disease.
The American College for the Advancement in Medicine (ACAM) trains practitioners in Complementary and Integrative Medicine.
Generation Rescue has a list of Integrative practitioners who specialise in childhood neurobiological disorders (Autism, ADHD, allergies). If they do not treat adults or your condition, they might be able to refer you to someone in your area who can.
Australia & New Zealand
Mindd Foundation trains Integrative practitioners in Australia and New Zealand and is partnered with the Medical Academy of Paediatric Special Needs (MAPS).
The Australian College of Nutritional & Environmental Medicine (ACNEM) trains in Australia and New Zealand.
The British Society for Ecological Medicine has a list of practitioners in the UK
Mindd Foundation gratefully acknowledges the contribution of Metagenics in supplying the Definition, Causes and Diet & Lifestyle Considerations for this page.