Sunday, January 30, 2011


By Ilona Napravnik C.N.P 

In the modern world, the sheer number of individuals who describe themselves as depressed or seek medical treatment for “depressive” symptoms have skyrocketed to epidemic proportions.

The medical explanation for depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain which has many causes, ie. hormone imbalance in post partum depression, serotonin increase in individuals, lack of sunlight in seasonal attention disorder, etc.  This article is not intended as a discussion of the merits of any of the theories but a guide to dietary changes which alleviate symptoms of depression in individuals. 

To tackle depression one must realize avoiding dietary missteps is far more important than adding substances to the diet.  Forefront on the list of foods to avoid is sugar.  In the very short run, sugar boosts mood and increases energy but this reaction is only temporary.  Once the sugar is in the blood stream, the body signals an insulin increase to lower blood sugar, this insulin is the reason for the inevitable crash following an intake of sugar.  Within a short while after consuming sugar, the body is more drained than prior to it’s ingestion.  Secondly, but not insignificant is the addition of caffeine and alcohol in modern diets.  Again these substances appear to enhance mood but are in fact suppressing in the long run.  This is a hard transition, as most individuals have a coffee with sugar first thing in the morning, but is of vital importance to regain appropriate mood and energy balance.

Foods good to consume are in the Omega 3 fats category, ie. salmon, walnuts, cold water fish.  As many studies have observed, the reliance on Omega 3 fats in the diet is related inversely with depressive tendencies.  The highest fish consuming countries, ie. Japan and China, have substantially lower incidence of depression compared to North American or “Western” societies. 

The other important nutrient for depression is folic acid.  Folic acid is deficient in individuals with depression and the common belief is with adequate folic acid levels, the brain will react appropriately to external stimulus. 

Both of the above nutrients are known as “brain food” and in this regard can be viewed as balancing the chemicals in the brain. 
Of outmost importance in the battle with depression is an adoption of a healthy diet with a heavy emphasis on fish sources. 

*This article is not intended as a replacement for medical advice but merely a balanced diet to aid in the pursuit of health.  If your symptoms are severe and your depression prolonged, please seek medical advice.*

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