Depression is the leading cause of disability in the United States for men and women ages 15-44. Depression affects approximately 14.8 million American adults age 18 and older in a given year. Surprisingly, even more Americans are taking antidepressants, 27 million or 10% of the population, as of 2005. Today on the Huffington Post, Dr. Mark Hyman (see post on metabolic burnout for more of his work) wrote about the inadequacies of antidepressants and their failure to work. He has provided 7 imbalances that trigger the body to malfunction (resulting in depression) and the coinciding ways to heal them without drugs.
Dr. Mark Hyman’s 7 steps to Treat Depression without Drugs
- Try an anti-inflammatory elimination diet: Have your body checked for common food allergens such as wheat and dairy. Food allergies and the resultant inflammation have been connected with depression and other mood disorders.
- Check for Hypothyroidism: This unrecognized epidemic is a leading cause of depression. If you are depressed, have your thyroid examined. There are many holistic ways to improve hypothyroidism, namely through diet.
- Take Vitamin D: Deficiency in this essential vitamin can lead to depression. Supplement with at least 2,000 to 5,000 IU of vitamin D3 a day. **Natural Vitamin D comes from the sun and foods such as salmon, sardines, shrimp, fortified milk, cod, and egg yolks.
- Take Omega-3 Fats: Our brain is made up of this fat, and deficiency can lead to a number of problems. Supplement with 1,000 to 2,000 mg of purified fish oil a day. **Natural sources of Omega-3’s are found in wild caught cold-water fish, flaxseeds, seaweed, olive oils, walnuts and beans.
- Take adequate B12 (1,000 micrograms, or mcg, a day), B6 (25 mg) and folic acid (800 mcg): These vitamins are critical for metabolizing homocysteine, which can play a factor in depression. **Natural B12 is found mainly in animal products; including snapper, shrimp, scallops, salmon, liver, poultry, eggs and milk. Natural B6 is found in spinach, bell peppers, turnip greens, garlic, tuna, cauliflower, bananas, celery, cabbage, asparagus, broccoli, kale, collard greens, brussel sprouts, cod and chard. Folic Acid is found in romaine lettuce, spinach, asparagus, turnip greens, mustard greens, parsley, collard greens, broccoli, cauliflower, lentils and beets.
- Get checked for Mercury: Heavy metal toxicity has been correlated with depression and other mood and neurological problems. **Mercury is commonly found in larger fish including swordfish, shark, king mackerel and tilefish. High mercury levels have also been found in High Fructose Corn Syrup. Check out the site: Gotmercury.org for a downloadable list.
- Exercise vigorously five times a week for 30 minutes: This increases levels of BDNF, a natural antidepressant in your brain.