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Help With Depression

Allergy, Depression | November 22, 2016 | Author: Naturopath

allergy, pregnancy, depression

Help With Depression

Depression is a common condition in Australia, affecting 4.1% of the population aged between 16 and 85 years. It is the fourth most common disorder treated in general practice and has a significant impact on not only the people who experience their symptoms but also their families and carers.

Symptoms of depression

Depression has many different subtypes and can be present in varying degrees of intensity. To be diagnosed with depression the individual must suffer from depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure for at least two weeks. Symptoms include reduced energy, feelings of worthlessness or excessive feelings of guilt and a decreased ability to concentrate. They may also experience insomnia or excessive sleepiness and feelings or acts of self-harm. Changes in body weight and appetite, either an increase or decrease can also be a common symptom.

Types of depression

Major Depression

Symptoms of depression interfere with all aspects of a person’s life, including social and work relationships.

Mild Depression

The individual has some difficulty carrying out daily activities and is distressed by some of the symptoms outlined above.

Moderate Depression

Several of the symptoms that are outlined in major depression may be present to a moderate degree. These individuals will usually have great difficulty continuing in their day to day activities.

Dysthymic Disorder

This disorder is a chronic low-grade form of depression that lasts for a long time (at least two years) with periods of time that may be symptom free.

Adjustment Disorder

This can occur after a person has gone through a stressful life event. It includes feelings of stress, anxiety and hopelessness with or without depression.

Other forms of depression include post-natal depression, seasonal affective disorder and bipolar disorder.

What causes depression?

Genetics: There is a strong link between heritable, genetic factors and their influence on depression. This risk seems to be a lot higher in women than in males.

Gender: Depression is more common in females than males.

Environment: People who have experienced a stressful life event such as relationship problems, death of a spouse, financial distress and child abuse have been shown to have a higher incidence of depression.

Imbalance of Neurotransmitters: An imbalance of the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, GABA and noradrenaline are proposed to cause depression.

Pre-existing conditions: Depression has been found to be more prevalent in people due to a wide variety of many conditions including IBS, hypothyroidism, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Prescription medications: Certain medications such as corticosteroids, the oral contraceptive pill, antihypertensives and some tranquilisers increase the risk of depression.

Recreational drugs: Abuse of drugs such as MDMA (also known as ecstasy) and cannabis have been shown to increase the risk of depression by a factor of five.

Hormonal imbalances: Fluctuations in hormones can be implicated as a risk factor for depression in women postnatally, suffering menopause or premenstrual syndrome. In ageing males androgen deficiency can be associated with depression also.

Nutrient Deficiencies: deficiencies of certain vitamins or minerals such as magnesium, B vitamins, vitamin D, zinc, calcium and omega 3’s all have depression as a side effect.

Allergies: A high percentage of people with depression also have allergies.

Heavy Metals: There is a consistent link between heavy metals such as lead and mercury and the onset of depressive symptoms.

Poor adrenal function: Individuals with high levels of cortisol due to stress are more likely to be depressed.

Wholefood diet for improved mood

Both a Wholefood and Mediterranean diet have been shown to exhibit a protective effect against depression compared to those who ate a typical western diet of processed foods. It is therefore important to eat a varied diet with fresh fruit, vegetables and wholegrains.

Protein is an essential component to include with every meal as it is important for healthy neurotransmitter production and synthesis.

Eat low glycaemic index foods to keep blood glucose levels stable.

It is important to avoid stimulants such as energy drinks, caffeine, sugar, alcohol or artificial sweeteners.

Increase consumption of essential fatty acids by eating fish, chia seeds, linseeds or supplementing with their oils.

Lifestyle advice

Exercise has been proven to reduce the symptoms of depression. The greatest reduction was found in those who conducted high energy and frequent aerobic exercise 3-5 times a week. Cognitive and relaxation therapies are useful as an adjuvant therapy for the management of depression. It is important to get 7-9 hours of good quality sleep each night and spend time outdoors for UV light exposure.

Happy Herbs

St John’s Wort is probably the most studied herb in depression, it has shown great efficacy for mild, moderate and major depression. It was also proven to be just as effective as anti-depressants with fewer side effects. Other herbs that have an antidepressant action include lavender, oats and damiana.


This naturally occurring molecule can be taken as a supplement to help ease depression. The advantage of using SAM-e is that it can work relatively quickly in comparison to other therapies. It may also be suitable for people who also suffer from pain.

Important Vitamins

B vitamins are a complex of vitamins that are best taken together for synergy. They have numerous functions in the body but in terms of depression are important in the synthesis of neurotransmitters and hormones, energy production and healthy digestion.

Vitamin D. Recent research has found that a deficiency of vitamin D has been associated with an increased risk of depression. Furthermore, supplementation has been shown to decrease depressive symptoms.

Vitamin C functions as an antioxidant in the brain but also deceases stress reactivity and modulates some neurotransmitters associated with depression.

Vitamin E levels have been reported to be low in people suffering with major depression. Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant in the body and may be implicated as major depression impairs antioxidant defence mechanisms.

Essential Minerals

Chromium may be required in people with depression who also have irregularities in their blood sugars. In one study, they found a positive therapeutic response in individuals with major depression who took 400mcg of chromium picolinate each day for two weeks.

Magnesium is essential for the regulation of neurotransmitters, production of energy and regulation of blood sugars. One study showed an inverse association between magnesium intake and depression scores.

Zinc is also implicated in depression as it is essential for numerous enzyme reaction, including that of the brain.

It is important to address the underlying cause of depression as well as eat a healthy diet and exercise. Correcting nutritional deficiencies is an important aspect in treating depression holistically as well as utilising other natural therapies such as herbs and SAM-e. It is important to obtain professional advice before taking supplements if you are on medications to avoid any potential interactions.  Australia’s best online discount chemist


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Australian Bureau of Statistics. 2007 National Survey of Mental Health and Well-being: Summary of Results. ABS cat no. 4326.0;2008, p.21

Schultz H, et al. Depression in adults. Australian Doctor October 2008;10

Leverson D. The genetics of depression: A review. Biological psychiatry 15 July 2006;60(2):84-92

Muscatell KA, et al. Stressful life events, chronic difficulties, and the symptoms of clinical depression. J Nerv Ment Dis 2009 Mar;197(3):154-60

Clarke DM, Currie KC. Depression, anxiety and their relationship with chronic diseases: a review of the epidemiology, risk and treatment evidence. Med J Aust 2009 Apr 6;190(Suppl. 7):S54-60

Davidson J, et al. Effectiveness of chromium in atypical depression:  A placebo-controlled trial. Biological Psychiatry 2003;53(3):261-4

Apaydin EA, et al. A systemic review of St. John’s wort for major depressive disorder. Syst Rev. 2016 Sep 2;5(1):148

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