This is a bonus of the series on health concerns that are “All in your head”.
- Persistent sadness
- Low mood
- Feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty sleeping
- Low sex drive
- Changes in appetite
- Weight changes
- Feelings of helplessness…
1 out of 7 people will suffer from depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) at some point in their lives. Research shows that depression is one of the main causes of disability, leading to increased visits to medical doctors. Many people do not like to discuss their mental health for fear of stigma and judgement, leading to isolation and in many cases making the condition worse.
Starting in late October/early November I often see a number of patients come into my office with symptoms related to depression/SAD.
The causes are varied and include lack of sunlight, chronic stress, hormonal imbalances, nutrient deficiencies, neurotransmitter abnormalities, food sensitivities/allergies, chronic illness, emotional concerns, family history…
The most common treatment, anti-depressant medications, do not work for everyone, and often they come with a number of unwanted side effects.
Luckily there are many natural solutions to depression/SAD.
- There is a strong connection between the digestive system and our mental health. In fact, the term is called the gut-brain connection. There are more neurotransmitters produced in the gut than in the brain. I see many patients with mental health concerns that also have digestive problems. Fixing one concern often goes a long way to remedying the other. Probiotics and raw fermented foods are key as is the elimination of food allergies/sensitivities.
- Have you noticed that when you are feeling sad you reach for chips or cookies? That is because these foods help promote the production of serotonin, a feel-good neurotransmitter. Research shows that this is a very quick fix, leading to worse symptoms once the sugar high wears off. In fact, a diet high in refined carbs and sugars has a direct relationship to the development of mental health concerns. Minimizing refined carbohydrates and excessive sugar is key for improved mental health.
- Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, is also hugely important. Vitamin D is both an important vitamin for our mental health and also our hormone and immune systems. Simply being outside in the fall and winter months does not help as we don’t get the amount of sunlight that we need to make Vitamin D. Therefore supplementing with Vitamin D is important from October until May.
These are just a few of the many natural treatments that are effective for mental health concerns, however, as I have said before, getting to the root of what is causing the problem is the best way to treat it.
I hope that this article has been helpful if you or someone you care about is suffering from depression/SAD.
For more information please contact me at 306-224-0012.