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Social isolation – Avoiding depression and anxiety

Depression, Stress | May 20, 2020 | Author: Naturopath

anxiety

Social isolation – Avoiding depression and anxiety

Being isolated can have its advantages. It can give you your own time to relax and contemplate, chilling in pj’s, or working at your own pace. However, for some people being on their own alone or caring for others in isolation can result in depression and anxiety.

Human beings benefit from social interaction, especially in worrying times. Lack of interaction can increase stress and reduce the ability to cope. Looking at the same environment daily results in a lack of visual stimulation and can end in over-processing or confused thinking – turning small issues into big ones or fearing sounds and noises, for example.

Loneliness can have an influence on health such as:

  • Increasing the level of stress hormones
  • Interfering with sleep
  • Compromising immunity
  • Self-neglect – leading to poor health

Lonely people will often neglect personal health, eat poorly and exercise less. Poor nutrition can play a key role in the onset as well as severity and extent of depression. Poor appetite, skipping meals and an irrepressible desire for sweet foods can be a sign of depression.

In todays society we have opportunities using technology to be able to stay in touch with others, such as mobile phones and the internet. There are also some nutrients, herbs and lifestyle suggestions to help with mood and healthy body maintenance. These include:

Healthy mind and body

Nutrients

A balanced diet of healthy, nutritious food will often alleviate symptoms of depression. Supplementation may be necessary to achieve a quicker and more effective results, along with a good diet.

Healthy mind and bodyB-complex vitamins. Increasing intake of B group vitamins has been shown to help enhance mood.

Vitamins B2 and B6 particularly are connected with an improvement in mood. Low levels of B1 in women were shown to be associated with poor mood. B12 deficiency is associated with cognitive changes.

People with depression have been observed to have low folate (B9) levels. Folic acid is crucial for proper brain function and plays an important role in mental and emotional health.

Omega-3 fatty acids. The brain contains the highest amount of lipids (fats), and brain lipids composed of fatty acids are important structural constituents. Dietary deficiency and an imbalance of essential fatty acids can contribute to the development of depression.

SAMe (S-adenosyl-L-methionine) is naturally found in the body and in supplemental form. SAMe helps to produce and regulate hormones and is involved in the maintenance of cell membranes. Taken as a supplement it has been shown to help alleviate symptoms of mild depression. Note: SAMe can interact with antidepressant medication.

Minerals

  • Chromium – can improve blood sugar balance and help reduce sugar cravings.
  • Iodine – is needed for thyroid function. Thyroid hormones provide the energy metabolism for brain cells.
  • Iron is necessary for oxygen and energy production in the cerebral parenchyma (the functional tissue of the brain), for the synthesis of neurotransmitters and myelin (the substance which protects nerve fibres). Deficiency is associated with apathy, depression and fatigue.
  • Selenium - low levels of selenium is associated with lowered mood. Improvement of mood and anxiety levels was shown on supplementation.
  • Zinc – is involved in the process of gustation (taste perception). Clinical studies have shown zinc levels are lower in those with clinical depression.
  • Magnesium deficiency is linked to intense sugar cravings, anxiety, stress and depression. Magnesium helps in the regulation of glucose, insulin and neurotransmitters.
  • Calcium – the absorption of calcium can be inhibited by some anti-depressant medications.

Diet

Five vegetables and 3 fruits per/day. Sounds simple but not everyone makes an effort to achieve it. A nutritious diet not only supports a healthy physical body, but can also help with a healthy mind.

Healthy mind and body

Fibre from fruits and vegetables support the growth of beneficial bowel bacteria, help with weight control, immunity and healthy aging.

Low glycaemic index carbohydrates found in fruit, vegetables, legumes and whole grains can provide a lasting effect on blood sugar levels, brain chemistry, support a healthy mood and sustain energy levels.

Carbohydrates provide naturally occurring polysaccharides which have a positive effect on mood and behaviour. Insulin released to help transport sugar into cell simultaneously triggers the entry of the amino acid, tryptophan, into the brain. Tryptophan influences neurotransmitter levels promoting feelings of well-being.

Proteins are considered the building blocks of the body. They are made of amino acids and make many neurotransmitters in the brain, such as dopamine from tyrosine, and serotonin from tryptophan. If there is a deficiency of these amino acids low mood and aggression will result. Foods rich in high quality protein include meats, milk (and other dairy products) and eggs.

Observational studies suggest a higher fruit and fibre intake is linked to a lower risk of depression, anxiety and high psychological distress.

Herbal Medicine

Saffron (Crocus sativus) can help support a healthy mood, promote calmness, alleviate mild anxiety and excessive nervous tension. According to data from trials, saffron has a significant effect on the severity of depression.

St John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum) is commonly known for its ability to reduce symptoms in mild-to-moderate depression. Note: St John’s wort can interact with some medication.

Life style

Establish a healthy lifestyle attitude with a focus on fitness, nourishing eating and a healthy mind. This can be achieved by following a few basic ideas and establishing a healthy routine.

Life styleExercise. Choose regular exercise which you enjoy and stick to a plan. Aim for a minimum 30 minutes 3 times a week, but better if you can perform some physical activities every day. Use isolation to try something new. The internet and media offer many choices. If feeling down, vigorous exercise can help alleviate symptoms for hours, and regular exercise can reduce depression and anxiety over time.

Change up the environment. Renovate or recreate. By making some changes to your living environment you can stimulate visual sensors. Use essential oil or fragrant plants for olfactory stimulation and play some new tunes (add some new dance moves) for auditory enjoyment.

Get some sunshine. Sunshine triggers the release of hormones in the brain and is thought to increase levels of serotonin – the happy hormone. Low levels of serotonin are associated with symptoms of depression. Sunshine also helps increase levels of vitamin D, low levels of which are linked to depression. Supplementation of vitamin D may be necessary during winter and for the elderly.

Stay connected. Keep communication channels open with phone, computer or a hello to neighbours.

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References

Social isolation in mental health: a conceptual and methodological review https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5702385/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-same/art-20364924

Understanding nutrition, depression and mental illnesses https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2738337/

S-Adenosylmethionine (SAMe) monotherapy for depression: an 8-week double-blind, randomised, controlled trial. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31712971

The Efficacy of Saffron in the Treatment of Mild to Moderate Depression: A Meta-analysis. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30036891

Clinical use of Hypericum perforatum (St John's wort) in depression: A meta-analysis. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28064110

A systematic review of St. John’s wort for major depressive disorder https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5010734/

Chapter 11Medical Attributes of St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92750/

Social Isolation, Loneliness, and Health Behaviors at Older Ages: Longitudinal Cohort Study https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6377432/

Zinc, Magnesium, Selenium and Depression: A Review of the Evidence, Potential Mechanisms and Implications https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5986464/

Magnesium: Are We Consuming Enough? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6316205/

Whole Fruits and Fruit Fiber Emerging Health Effects https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6315720/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/in-depth/depression-and-exercise/art-20046495

Vitamin D and Depression: Where is all the Sunshine? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2908269/

https://www.beyondblue.org.au/

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