Why Depression is Becoming More Common & What You Can Do About It
If you’ve been thinking that depression is a common problem for many people these days, you’re not wrong.
In fact, the number of people suffering from this debilitating disease numbers into the hundreds of millions worldwide.
Part of this documented increase in cases of depression, is due to the fact that Doctors are quicker than ever to diagnose it and prescribe anti-depressants, rather than reveal to their patients the potential main cause and what they can do about it naturally.
Read on to discover the main causes of depression and what you can do about it.
Why Depression is More Common: It Starts in the Gut!
It's rarely spoken about, but the truth is that 99% of depression starts in the gut.
Here’s how your gut plays into mental illness:
Depression is a downstream collection of symptoms driven by inflammation, oxidative stress, and mitochondrial dysfunction, with disruption to gut ecology being the major factor.
You have two brains—one in your gut, and one in your head. Just as you have neurons in your brain, you also have neurons in your gut. This is the enteric nervous system, and its neurons produce many of the same neurotransmitters as your brain, including serotonin, dopamine, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).
In fact, the greatest concentration of serotonin is found in your gut, not in your head. Communication between these two brains occurs along the vagus nerve. The signals your gut bacteria send to your brain exert significant influence over your moods, thoughts and behaviour.
More than 70 percent of your immune system resides in the wall of your gut. Systemic inflammation and immune deficiency occurs in the form of TH1 dominant cellular response, in which macrophages produce IL1, IL6 and TNF alpha, all of which have been shown to be elevated with depression.
Depression is More Common Because Maternal Microbiome Transfer is LESS Common
In earlier times, infants were “seeded” with their mothers’ microbiome as they traveled down the birth canal, but this is occurring less frequently and less effectively today due to crazy surgical births and other medical practices.
Without the vaginal transfer of mom’s flora, babies miss out on an important inoculation. Even many vaginally delivered babies are developing suboptimal flora because maternal flora is out of balance, and fewer moms are choosing to breastfeed, which is another source of natural immunity.
Also a lifetime of poor dietary choices, toxic chemical exposures, antibiotics and other factors further compromise gut health. One of the best ways to restore your microbiome is by consuming naturally fermented foods. Even researchers have demonstrated that fermented foods help curb social anxiety disorder in young adults.
Depressed Food, Depressed Mood
Another reason depression is more common is because people are eating more and more processed foods.
Food ingredients and additives that can cause or aggravate depression include refined sugar, artificial sweeteners like aspartame. Processed fructose, gluten, GMO’s, glyphosate, and fake '100% natural supplements’ are also on that list.
Aspartame, for example, has been linked to depression and panic attacks. An investigative study recently published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, using data from the Women’s Health Initiative, found diets that are higher in sugar and refined grains (higher glycemic index, lower fiber) were associated with increased rates of depression.
Learn more: 6 Reasons Processed Foods Cause Weight Gain.
High glycemic diets also resulted in an elevated risk for inflammation and heart disease.
Foods such as whole fruits (nature’s healthy sugars) and vegetables (lower glycemic index, higher fiber) were associated with lower rates of depression.
Depression is More Common Because Refined Sugar is More Common
Studies are piling up about the adverse effects man made sugar has on just about every aspect of human health, triggering a cascade of chemical reactions in the body that fuel inflammation, and unsurprisingly, depression.
Excess dietary sugar promotes inflammation, contributes to leptin resistance, and suppresses BDNF (which promotes healthy neurons).
In 2013, the results of a large study involving 264,000 people above age 50 was presented at the 65th annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology. People drinking more than four cans of soda per day had a 22 percent higher risk of depression than those who drank none. The risk for diet soda drinkers was even greater—30 percent higher risk of depression.
️However, organic coffee drinking was associated with a 10 percent reduction️ in risk.
Learn more: The Truth About Sugar.
Gluten and Depression
Gluten is soaked in aluminium so that it will store longer. It’s as bad as it sounds. Gluten consumption promotes neurotoxicity and addiction, rolled into one.
Once considered extremely rare and limited to those with celiac disease, wheat and gluten sensitivity have now become a focus of scientific investigation, with more than 200 adverse health effects identified in the literature.
Gluten is associated with many neurotoxic reactions, including mood disorders, schizophrenia, and autoimmune neurological issues. Gluten intolerance has been shown to produce headaches, seizures, anxiety, ataxia and neuropathy, and has recently been directly linked with depression—even among non-celiac individuals.
A randomised clinical trial published in the journal Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics showed gluten consumption significantly increases depression risk. Fresh harvested grains don’t do this!
Learn more: What Really is Gluten Intolerance & Hidden Sources.
The Power of Sunlight
Anyone who knows anything about the power of vitamin D, which our skin produces when exposed to the sun, knows about its mood boosting benefits.
Your body also produces nitric oxide when exposed to the sun, which helps regulate blood pressure, as well as beta-endorphins to lift your mood, and a host of other awesome bio-chemical reactions.
Optimal vitamin D production in the skin appears to occur at the point where it just begins to redden. Vitamin D acts on the areas of the brain that are linked to depression, although the mechanism is not well understood.
A meta-analysis published in the British Journal of Psychiatry found that low vitamin D levels are associated with depression. Vitamin D receptors are found in many areas of the brain, including those involved with mood. Vitamin D acts much like a hormone in the body, and more research is needed to determine its multiple roles in mental health.
Learn more: 7 Reasons Why You Need Sunlight.
Pharmaceutical Triggers of Depression
The following drugs are notorious for causing depression symptoms.
Chemotherapy: This a big one—fatigue, depression, sleep disturbances and even death are common adverse effects of cancer treatment.
Hypnotics: Based on data released by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a meta-analysis found that hypnotics such as zolpidem (Ambien), zaleplon (Sonata), and eszopiclone (Lunesta), are associated with an increased incidence of depression.
Statins: Depression, memory loss, confusion and aggressive reactions have been reported from statin drugs. For example, simvastatin may raise the risk of depression, violence or suicide during the initial treatment period.
The link between lipid-lowering agents and adverse psychiatric reactions likely relates to inadequate cholesterol for proper brain function, as cholesterol is a chief component of brain cell membranes.
Learn more: Cholesterol: The Good, the Bad & The Ugly.
Oral contraceptives: Studies show depression as the most common reason her female patients discontinue oral contraceptive use.
ACCUTANE (ISOTRETINOIN): This acne medication may increase risk for depression and/or suicide.
OTHER MEDICATIONS: Beta-blockers, calcium-channel blockers, hormones, barbiturates, and benzodiazepines can cause depression.
The Failure of Antidepressant Drugs
Antidepressant drugs can hurt more than help. Long-term treatment with antidepressant drugs produces notoriously poor functional outcomes, and at least two studies show patients doing worse medicated than unmedicated.
Unlike the mess of contradictory studies around short-term effects, there are NO studies that show improved outcomes when antidepressants are prescribed long-term.
Adverse effects are rampant for antidepressant drugs, from sexual dysfunction to insomnia, weight gain and dysglycemia, to aggression and violence.
According to data collected from FDA’s Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), five of the top 10 violence-inducing drugs are antidepressants.
A new study published in PLOS Medicine confirms what many have intuited for decades: antidepressants cause violent behaviour. The study found young adults, between the ages of 15 and 24, are nearly 50 percent more likely to be convicted of homicide, assault, robbery, arson, kidnapping, sexual offense or other violent crime when taking an antidepressant, versus those who are unmedicated.
But there are other serious adverse effects to taking antidepressant drugs. Among those with unipolar depression, treatment with an antidepressant drug increases the risk for mania.
Treatment with paroxetine (Paxil) has been found to reduce thyroid hormone levels by 11.2 percent. This is particularly problematic because hypothyroidism is an often-ignored factor in depression and other forms of mental illness.
Niacin deficiencies may contribute to neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders and antidepressants actually cause niacin deficiency—especially for those whose diets are suboptimal in the first place.
The reason? These drugs alter normal tryptophan and serotonin pathways. Your body uses the amino acid tryptophan to manufacture both niacin and serotonin (serotonin also requires vitamin B6 and magnesium for synthesis). You can only get tryptophan from food— your body cannot make it. Niacin or tryptophan deficiency can lead to insomnia, depression, anxiety and irritability.
If you have niacin deficiency, your body will use all available dietary tryptophan to synthesise niacin, leaving little remaining for serotonin.
Pellagra is a severe form of niacin deficiency characterised by delusions, confusion, depression, diarrheoa, nausea, vomiting, memory loss, dermatitis and inflamed mucous membranes, and if left untreated, it can be fatal. Eating lots of niacin foods can reduce severe depression symptoms, even suicidality, in as little as 15 minutes. For example eating two handfuls of cashews can work wonders to improve your mood.
Omega-3 Fats: A Neuron’s Best Friend
Your brain is made up of about 60% fat. Omega-3 fats play a crucial role in normal brain function, as well as growth and development. The standard American diet contains far too many omega-6 fats and far too few omega-3s, which drives up inflammation.
The importance of lowering inflammation in depression has already been stated. The best source of Omega 3 is all nuts and seeds, especially walnuts. Walnuts even look like the brain.
When searching for Omega-3 supplements, avoid fish oils. There are many toxic side effects of fish-oils and they should be avoided. There are vegan supplements made from sea vegetation that can give you all the omegas you need.
VITAMIN C and Depression
Even moderately low levels of vitamin C have been linked with depression. Vitamin C works together with the enzyme dopamine-beta-hydroxylase to convert dopamine into norepinephrine, which plays an important role in the regulation of mood.
The link between vitamin C deficiency and depression may relate to diminished neurotransmitter levels.
The scientific literature shows the benefits of vitamin C for depression in people of all ages. One study found vitamin C an effective adjuvant in the treatment of major depression in paediatric patients. Another study correlated low levels of vitamin C with both depression and higher mortality rates among adults over age 65.
Treat Depression with ESSENTIAL OILS & Natural Medicine
Chamomile is also clinically effective for both depression and anxiety, as well as being beneficial for sleep.
When choosing essential oils, be sure to buy 100% pure, food-grade essential oils. Our top recommended brand has always been doTERRA, which is why we carry them in our store.
In several studies, saffron (crocus sativus) improved symptoms in adults with major depression. Another study showed saffron to have equal efficacy (as the pharma toxic side effect producing fluoxetine/Prozac) for depressed patients possessing a cardiac history. And yet another study showed saffron’s benefits equal to the drug imipramine for mild to moderate depression.
Rhodiola performed better than Zoloft (sertraline) for patients with major depression in a University of Pennsylvania study.
Learn more: How to Balance Mood & Reset Your Nervous System.
Turmeric and its active agent, curcumin, were found safe and more effective than Prozac for treating various states of depression in an Indian study.
A meta-analysis found St. John’s Wort as effective as SSRIs in the treatment of depressive disorder, with fewer adverse effects.
Valerian reduces anxiety and depression without interfering with muscle function, because it is not actually a sedative.
Acetyl-l-carnitine has been shown to be effective in treating geriatric depression.
Ayahuasca is a bitter tea made from a blend of traditional Amazonian plants consumed by native people of Peru, Brazil, Columbia and Ecuador. This elixir has been shown to produce significant, often-immediate improvements in depression, with long lasting and sometimes permanent benefits.
However, it should be consumed as part of a healing ceremony under the guidance of a qualified shaman. Ayahuasca has been shown to benefit 12 different mental disorders, including anxiety, drug addiction and withdrawal.
Are Moods Contagious?
Given what we now know about chronic stress, especially during childhood, the importance of treating depression from a holistic perspective cannot be overemphasised. In addition to nutrition, we must address psychosocial and spiritual health and the body’s energy systems.
These are all neglected in the medical allopathic model, yet are critical aspects of both mental and physical health.
In depression, factors such as social engagement come into play. Research shows having a strong social network of good friends is a significant factor in longevity—those who are socially isolated may experience poor health and a shorter lifespan. It turns out that healthy moods are contagious.
A study found that depression itself is not a transmittable disease—it doesn’t “spread” among people in close association, but healthy moods are contagious.
Surrounding oneself with friends who enjoy positive moods is associated with significantly reduced depression risk, as well as better chances of recovery from a depressive episode.
So, surround yourself with happy people!
Exercise is key
The energy system of the body can be supported through massage, acupuncture/acupressure, EFT(Emotional Freedom Techniques), meditation, yoga, Tai Chi, and a number of other practices, many now receiving long-deserved legitimisation by science.
For example, acupuncture or acupressure has been shown superior to Prozac for reducing depression symptoms, and Tai Chi was shown to produce broadly beneficial psychological impacts, ranging from increased self-esteem to reduced stress, anxiety, and mood disturbances (including depression).
Yoga, laughter, dancing, gardening and even music can be fun and effective mood-elevating practices.
Depression is more common, but so is the ability to access knowledge to alleviate depression and support better mental health. Try these natural, safer and more effective treatments for depression and enjoy a happier, more vital life.
Tolman Self Care.