lunes, 15 de septiembre de 2014

DEPRESSION


Depression

Depression is rated by the World Health Organisation as the leading cause of disease burden amongst high income countries. Depression is characterised by feelings of worthlessness or guilt, poor concentration, loss of energy, fatigue, thoughts of suicide or preoccupation with death, loss or increase of appetite and weight, a disturbed sleep pattern, slowing down (both physically and mentally), agitation (restlessness or anxiety). If you think you are feeling down, try our free depression test questionnaire to check your mood.
There are many factors that can contribute to the development of depression such as psychological issues or biochemical imbalances, and triggers such as major stress or trauma.
There are also a number of nutritional imbalances that can make you prone to depression such as:
Essential fats, do you need more Omega 3?
Homocysteine, is it too high, corrected with B vitamins?
Serotonin levels, do they need boosting with amino acids
Blood sugar balance
Levels of the nutrients chromium and Vitamin D
Food intolerances, could they be making you sad?

To find out more about these factors read on, or click on our Action Plan for Depression.

WHAT IS DEPRESSION?

In Britain, 1 in 20, or around 3 million people, are diagnosed with depression. Unipolar Depression is rated by the World Health Organization as the leading cause of disease burden amongst high-income countries.

ARE YOU DEPRESSED?

Depression is diagnosed on the basis of symptoms in a questionnaire test, the most common being the Hamilton Rating Scale of Depression, or HRS for short. This contains questions about your mood, guilt feelings, suicidal thoughts, insomnia, agitation, anxiety, physical problems, sex drive, and so on. Depending on your test score on these questions, you will be diagnosed with either “mild,” “moderate,” or “severe” depression. Here’s a simplified depression test questionnaire to check your mood.

WHAT CAUSES DEPRESSION?

There are many factors that can contribute to the development of depression. There might be underlying biochemical or psychological issues that predispose an individual to depression. There might be a trigger such as a stressful event, a bereavement, loss of a job, or break up of a relationship. If you are suffering with a low mood, whether you consider that it is depression or not, you should see your GP who can rule out medical causes, recommend counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy and psychotherapy, and assess your medication. Exercise is also very important and there’s lots of evidence that regular exercise boosts mood, especially if you’re able to exercise outdoors in a green environment. Even a walk in the park or a stroll by the river is thought to be beneficial.

DIET AND NUTRITION...WHAT WORKS

Increase your omega-3 fats

Omega-3 fats are called essential fats, because unlike some other substances, they can’t be manufactured within the human body, and therefore it is essential that you take them in through your diet. The richest dietary source is from oily fish such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, pilchards, herring, trout and fresh but not tinned tuna. Surveys have shown that the more fish the population of a country eats the lower is their incidence of depression. There are two key types of omega-3 fats, EPA and DHA and the evidence suggests that it’s the EPA which seems to be the most potent natural anti-depressant.

Increase your intake of B vitamins

People with either low blood levels of the B-vitamin folic acid, or high blood levels of the amino acid homocysteine (a sign that you are not getting enough B6, B12 or folic acid), are both more likely to be depressed and less likely to get a positive result from anti-depressant drugs. In a study comparing the effects of giving an SSRI with either a placebo or with folic acid, 61% of patients improved on the placebo combination but 93% improved with the addition of folic acid. But how does folic acid itself, a cheap vitamin with no side-effects, compare to anti-depressants?

Boost your serotonin with amino acids

Serotonin is made in the body and brain from an amino acid called tryptophan. Tryptophan is then converted into another amino acid called 5-Hydroxy Tryptophan (5-HTP), which in turn is converted into the neurotransmitter serotonin. Tryptophan can be found in the diet; it’s in many protein rich foods such as meat, fish, beans and eggs. 5-HTP is found in high levels in the African Griffonia bean, but this bean is not a common feature of most people’s diet. Just not getting enough tryptophan is likely to make you depressed; people fed food deficient in tryptophan became rapidly depressed within hours.

Balance your blood sugar

There is a direct link between mood and blood sugar balance. All carbohydrate foods are broken down into glucose and your brain runs on glucose. The more uneven your blood sugar supply the more uneven your mood. In fact, our experience at the Brain Bio Centre is that poor blood sugar balance is often the single-biggest factor in mood disorders amongst the people that seek our advice.

Up your intake of chromium

This mineral is vital for keeping your blood sugar level stable because insulin, which clears glucose from the blood, can't work properly without it. In fact it turns out that just supplying proper levels of chromium to people with atypical depression can make a big difference.

Bring on the sunshine

Known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’, around 90% of our vitamin D is synthesised in our skin by the action of sunlight. Vitamin D deficiency is increasingly being recognised as a common problem around the globe and may be implicated in depression, particularly if you feel worse in winter.

Bad mood foods

Some foods are associated with mood problems. For example, in a huge population study, Coeliac Disease (a severe intolerance to gluten – the protein found in wheat, rye and barley) was associated with an 80% increased risk for depression. It is thought that Coeliac Disease is vastly underdiagnosed in the UK. Your GP can test for it, and should test you if you have fluctuating digestive symptoms including diarrhoea, constipation or bloating, and especially if you have unexplained anaemia. In fact, you can have mood symptoms relating to gluten, even without Coeliac Disease.

References

Fobbester, D et al., Optimum Nutrition UK survey, October 2004. Available from www.ion.ac.uk