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Depression – Treat the Causes by Les Cole, MD, ABAARM, ABHIM

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Depression affects millions of Americans. If you experience depression, you know disabling it can be. Some studies show the best prevention and treatments include

  • Sleep – 8 hours where possible. A consistent pre-bedtime routine is very helpful and should consist of good sleep hygiene. There are many things that can help achieve a good night sleep without the use of pharmaceutical sleep medications.
  • Eating a Mediterranean diet has been shown to be of benefit. A low sugar, low processed carbohydrate diet also reduces inflammation which contributes to depression.
  • Regular exercise is essential. Both resistance training (weights &/or bands) and High Intensity Interval Training have been shown to effect the activation of 400 health promoting genes, including ones that decrease depression and anxiety. But any form of exercise will improve your health. Choose one that brings you pleasure.
  • Getting plenty of sunlight is important and supplementing with vitamin D.
  • Drinking coffee activates Dopamine & other neurotransmitters and has been shown to decrease depression
  • Taking probiotics can also reduce depression. Your GI Microbiome (bacteria) actually produce neurotransmitters that you absorb that effect your brain function, so you want to make sure you have healthy bacteria growing in your Microbiome.
  • Balancing your hormones is crucial. Low or elevated cortisol levels (the stress hormone) is associated with depression. Hypothyroidism can cause depression and anxiety. Hyperthyroidism generally produces anxiety. Estrogen, progesterone & testosterone optimization is important for both men and women. There are many examples of emotional symptoms associated with these hormones being out of balance – PMS, PMDD Postpartum Depression, Menopause and Andropause. Each of these can be associated with depressive states.
  • Being tested for MTHFR genetic defect. This gene is involved in the production of the neurotransmitters: Dopamine, Norepinephrine, Epinephrine, Serotonin and Melatonin. If these are out of balance Depression can be the result. This is a common genetic defect.
  • Low Omega-3 fatty acids (from fish, grass fed animals, chia, etc.) can contribute to depression.
  • Micronutrient deficiencies can cause imbalances leading to depression. Be tested with a functional nutritional evaluation.
  • A number of supplements can be beneficial.
  • Stress often leads to depression. Feeling peaceful inside (as is induced by meditation and other practices) reduces stress & depression.
  • Learn who you are, live your life and not someone elses expectations.
  • Learn your purpose and live that.
  • Therapy may be very important to release yourself from the pain & fear associated with prior traumatic emotional experiences and to guide you toward personal empowerment.

There are many effective non-pharmacologic treatments for depression. As a matter of fact most anti-depressants showed only slight improvement over placebo in many studies.