When neurotransmitters that regulate our mood become out of balance or disrupted, one of the consequences that may occur is depression. There are many factors that may contribute to this disruption of brain chemistry, but here are the top ten. If these issues are addressed then depression may be alleviated.
1. Consume Sufficient Levels of Animal Protein and Fat
The food you eat or don’t eat is your most important weapon in fighting depression naturally.
Animal protein provides the amino acids required for the production of the neurotransmitters (e.g. serotonin, dopamine, endorphins), that regulate our moods. Fat is essential for proper transmission. A minimum of four ounces and up to eight ounces of animal protein in each meal is needed.
Consumption of adequate animal protein and fat in each meal also prevent dips in blood sugar. If blood sugar levels drop, then so does mood.
2. Limit Carbohydrates (including complex)
The consumption of high carbohydrate foods initially causes an intense surge in neurotransmitters that regulate our mood in the same manner as drugs and alcohol. However, the brain responds to this over stimulation by down regulating the production of or responsiveness to the neurotransmitter, leading to depression and other mental health issues like OCD and anxiety or panic disorders.
Carbohydrates (including complex) also cause a surge in blood sugar, which initially boosts the mood, but this is followed shortly thereafter by a drastic drop in blood sugar once insulin is released and that causes a plummeting in mood. Then cravings for carbohydrates develop in an attempt to bring the mood back up again. It becomes a vicious circle of roller coaster moods. Limit the carbs and replace it with animal protein and fat and the roller coaster ride comes to an end.
Sugars of all kinds and carbs like grains, legumes, and potatoes should be avoided completely as their carb content is too high even if limited and they may deplete neurotransmitters in other ways via gut damage, feeding microbes, or opiate mimicking substances inherent in their composition.
3. Determine if Candida Overgrowth (or other fungi) Exists
The toxins produced by Candida and other fungi can impair neurotransmitter production and function leading to depression and many other mental health symptoms like anxiety. Not only that, microbes of all kinds can generate faux neurotransmitters that interfere with our naturally occurring ones.
Candida and its toxins may also lead to deficiencies in nutrients that are needed in the formation of neurotransmitters.
4. Evaluate whether SIBO is Present (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth)
Like fungi, toxins produced by bacteria have the same ability to impede normal production and function of neurotransmitters, generate false neurotransmitters, and/or deplete nutrients required for synthesis of neurotransmitters.
5. Avoid Pesticides and other Toxins
Pesticides and herbicides are neurotoxins (destroy nerve tissue). Some of them deplete serotonin, dopamine, and/or endorphins and some cause an elevation in acetylcholine, norepinephrine, or glutamate. In all cases, the result can be profound depression or other psychiatric disorders.
Many types of pesticides and herbicides can also cause an elevation in blood sugar and then the ultimate crash in both sugar levels and mood.
They may also damage the gut and contribute to overgrowth of SIBO, Candida and other fungi, which as established above may then contribute to depressed mood.
Other toxins like heavy metals or the chemicals present in traditional cleaning products, cleaning supplies, laundry detergents, colognes and perfumes, cosmetics, personal care products can also impact the brain and blood sugar in a similar manner and lead to depression.
6. Eliminate Caffeine, Alcohol, and Nicotine
Each of these substances are addictive mind-altering drugs that deplete or impede vital neurotransmitters needed to regulate our moods.
All three cause an elevation in blood sugar and the inevitable plummet already discussed.
7. Avoid Junk Food and Artificial Sweeteners
Food additives, preservatives, and dyes or artificial flavorings and sweeteners are chemicals that can cause disruption to neurotransmitters and consequently our moods.
Some of them may also cause damage to the gut and cause proliferation of microbes like Candida and SIBO.
8. Support Your Adrenal Glands
When the adrenal glands are weak, then many of our inhibitory neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, endorphins, and GABA, may be in short supply, which leads to chronic low-level depression.
9. Assess Thyroid Function
One of the primary symptoms of low thyroid function is depression. Other common symptoms include hair loss, fatigue, and weight gain. When that is the case, proper treatment of the thyroid may alleviate the symptoms.
10. Manage Your Stress
When we are under stress, neurotransmitters that modulate our mood are in great demand to help us cope with the situation at hand. During periods of intense stress, our calming inhibitory neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, endorphins, and GABA may be in short supply, resulting in a temporary bout of depression. If stress is ongoing, then neurotransmitter levels may remain low and depression may be ongoing.
Within this category, a source of extreme stress is childhood abuse or trauma. Both of which alter brain chemistry. Survivors of childhood abuse often have lower levels of serotonin, dopamine, and GABA, leaving them vulnerable to depression and many other mental health issues as well as functional gut disorders and problems with immunity. Most of the things we’ve already discussed on this page like the proper diet, addressing microbial overgrowth, toxins, and managing stress will be beneficial for this issue, but psychotherapy to facilitate healing the emotional damage is typically required as well. All of this is true of abuse or trauma that occurs in adulthood as well, but the developing brain of the child is more vulnerable.
Get the Help You Need
Take a look at What Your Psychologist Hasn’t Told You About Anxiety & Depression for more detailed information on the topics we’ve discussed and you’ll be on the road to recovery today.
As you can see, the key to fight depression naturally lies primarily in making diet and lifestyle choices that support healthy neurotransmitter production and function and ultimately a healthier brain. Take these steps and practice them faithfully and you will enjoy not only better, more stable moods, but more optimal health all around.