You are Not Alone
It might be considered almost ironic that a mental condition which gives rise to symptoms of isolation and loneliness has become a rather common condition, meaning that many sufferers are truly not alone. According to healthline.com, “the NIMH estimates that in the United States, 16 million adults had at least one major depressive episode in 2012. That’s 6.9 percent of the population.” There are support groups and there are pharmaceutical options, but many can find themselves still feeling disabled by the condition. Sometimes pharmaceutical treatments are a hit or miss depending on the individual. The commonly prescribed SSRI’s (Selective-Serotonin-Reuptake-Inhibitors) are designed to prevent the reuptake of serotonin back up into the brain. The concept behind this is that there will then be a surplus of serotonin, at least temporarily, within the synapse. The reason perhaps that these treatments don’t always work, is that you can experience the blocking effect while the brain might not make extra serotonin to compensate at all. According to Royal College of Psychiatrists in the U.K., there is also a limit against prescribing young teens antidepressants as it is believed they can have stronger adverse effects such as an increase in suicidal ideation. Also, the link between serotonin and depression is still being studied. Correlations have been found, but as they say in the scientific field, correlation is not always causation. Luckily, in efforts to find solutions elsewhere when pharmaceutical drugs fail, people have found various methods of alleviating their depression. The best part is that they don’t require a prescription or a pharmacy and some of them are actually free.
Dan McGann is a therapist that leads an interesting program at the Trillium Health Partners Credit Valley Hospital in Mississauga. Since 2006, he has been making depressed adolescents run. It is a twice-a-week running group and all of the teens in his group have been clinically diagnosed with depression, and then recommended to him for treatment. Participants claim that it helps. One teen reports that it is the only thing “keeping them standing on this earth”. So running is one of the best home treatment for depression.
It is common knowledge that exercise releases endorphins. So does pain. A handful of things release endorphins. So, it is curious whether there is an actual physiological link between exercise and depressive symptoms. Some Swedish researchers offer evidence; in a study on mice, it was seen that physically fit muscles could directly protect the brain from stress-induced damage. And there are a handful of other studies to suggest evidence of a link. Weyer S. did a study titled “Physical Inactivity and Depression in the Community”, posted in the International Journal of Sports Medicine. He found that there was a higher ratio for the likelihood of depression in physically inactive persons (by 3.15) compared to people that reported regular exercise. The sample size was of 1,536 individuals aged 15 and older.
A similar study was done in the late 90’s, specifically to look at black women’s health. Participants included 35,224 women ages 21 to 69 from the Black Women’s Health Study. Data was collected through questionnaires via mail. They were asked questions about past and current exercise regimens. In conclusion, those who had reported regular vigorous exercise in high school (five or more hours a week) as well as a good amount of exercise in adulthood (two or more hours a week) had the lowest odds for depression out of the whole study. However, it doesn’t seem to matter the gender of the individual, according to Peter J. Carek, Sarah E. Laibstain, and Stephen M. Carek at the Medical University of South Carolina. In a study with both men and women, increased exercise always correlated with a higher sense of well-being and reduced anxiety.
So, it is safe to say that science is on your side with this one. Some people enjoy running because it can give one a sense of freedom, invincibility, and elation. All of which are good measures to counter depression. But if running is too much strain, many enjoy certain yoga routines instead. Yoga has a very balancing mentality, which might prove useful to fight depression.
Another helpful aid, laughter, might be beneficial for the same reasons that exercise is. It is thought that true belly laughs can actually activate a lot of muscles in the body. A Dr. Fry claims, “In fact, between 100 and 200 laughs a day is equivalent to ten minutes of rowing or jogging.” So, maybe a person might want to try rowing while laughing. You just might look insane. Also, just kidding, you want to be able to breathe properly while exercising too, without too much hyperventilating. But on that note, laughter does cause you to take in extra oxygen. This has proven to help the immune system through multiple means. Taking a walk in fresh air, meditating, and exercise all increase oxygen intake. The brain itself needs about 20% of your body’s oxygen to function. So a little bit of extra oxygen will help increase functioning all-around.
Laughter is also good for home treatment for depression as laughter can provide a feeling of connection and belonging. It’s even better if you find yourself in a stadium full of people laughing, watching a comedian. It relieves stress, which is highly correlated with depression. So, it is definitely a good idea to buy that ticket for your favorite comedian or look them up on the internet to watch. Or, if you can, spend time around people that make you laugh.
Increase Tryptophan in Diet
Tryptophan is the precursor for Serotonin in the brain. Many people take it supplementally in higher doses to help with sleep problems and insomnia. But, it could benefit a sufferer of depression to eat a high-tryptophan diet as it might increase serotonin without causing instant sleepiness. As with all home-treatments, it is best to do everything in small increments. The body operates under delicate homeostasis. Too much or too little of anything can be bad. So when trying to increase anything chemically in the body on your own, it is good to do a little at first and see how you feel. There is a long list of high-tryptophan foods. But taken from nutritiondata.self.com, the top thirteen with the highest concentrations of tryptophan will be listed as follows:
- Sealion, stellar, kidney
- Sealion, stellar, meat with fat
- Cooked roasted Elk
- raw seaweed and spirulina
- Soy protein isolate, potassium type, crude protein basis
- unprepared frozen spinach (tryptophan dose goes down when it is cooked)
- Soy protein isolate, potassium type
- Egg white, dried, powder, glucose reduced
- sesame flour or seeds
- Crustaceans, raw Alaskan king crab
- Soy sauce
- Cooked Halibut with skin
- Crustaceans, cooked shrimp
The Mind-Gut Connection
In the past few years, headlines have been popping up about surprising discoveries involving the bacteria in our gut. Scientists have found what they are calling “biological dark matter”. It is called this mainly because it doesn’t fit into the current classifications they have for living cells or microbes. And much of the bacteria in our bodies is actually near impossible to replicate in order to study it. So, therefore, as far as they are concerned it is “biological dark matter”.
What has been found is an interesting correlation between sufferers of depression and a condition of bacterial translocation, more commonly referred to as “leaky gut”. According to an article on Scientific American, certain behaviors and medical conditions can disrupt the normally impermeable cell wall that lines the digestive system. If disrupted, waste and bacteria may enter the bloodstream. These displaced bacteria can lead to inflammation responses in the body, and inflammation usually comes with depression. This is all part of the immune response. A study published in the May issue of Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica claims that approximately 35 percent of depressed participants showed signs of leaky gut. These signs were based on blood tests.
There was another interesting study done in mice (someone really ought to write some thank you notes to all these mice). Gut microbes were taken from anxious nervous mice and replaced with the gut microbes of calm, fearless mice. Stephen Collins of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, who led a team that conducted the research, said that “The mice became less anxious, more gregarious”. This gives us some telling evidence that your gut health really might affect your mood.
So how do you fix your gut health you might ask? The answer is pretty simple: probiotics. You might want to try cutting back on processed foods and eating fresh as well. But that alone might not work as effectively as getting a real good dose of probiotics, especially if you’ve had any history of taking antibiotics throughout your life. It has become important enough that doctors today will often recommend you follow up your prescribed antibiotics with probiotics. These probiotics can be found in yogurt, preferably without much sugar. But stronger therapeutic doses can be sold as supplements. As an important side note, the supplement must be refrigerated. It becomes useless if it’s been exposed to heat, so don’t buy a supplement that’s just been sitting on a shelf.
This product may or may not help depression, since it is mostly targeted at calming anxiety. But since anxiety and depression are often neighbors, it might help anyone who is suffering from depression with their overall state. It is an amino acid and pretty much the only product that you can find that can cross the blood-brain-barrier to break down as the neurotransmitter GABA. GABA is your calming neurotransmitter. It reduces the excitability of your neurons. Most GABA supplements fail to work because they fail to cross the blood-brain-barrier.
The amino acid is found naturally in green tea leaves. It is part of the reason why Buddhist monks used to drink green tea to help with their meditative states. The caffeine would provide alertness but the l-theanine was able to offset the caffeine, producing instead a calm focused state. It is marketed under the brand Suntheanine, if you want to take it as a supplement without the caffeine. This is often important to sufferers of anxiety or insomnia to stay away from anything caffeinated.
In conclusion, there are definitely ways to try and tackle depression through home treatment, without relying solely on a pharmacy or prescriptions. And even if someone has a genetic predisposition toward depression, there are tools that can be cultivated so that it doesn’t have to stop anyone from having a fulfilled life. We hope you’ve found our list informative.