How much of depression is biochemical? How much is psychological?
Well, the mind can effect the biochemistry of the body and vice versa. In her book, Seven Weeks to Sobriety, researcher, Dr. Joan Mathews Larson describes the frequency that hypoglycemics and depression-prone patients experience certain symptoms:
(Now, I can relate to the indecisiveness situation when, during my late 30’s, I was in a state of exhaustion and unable to make a simple decision regarding lunch. Fortunately, I chose a hardy carrot ginger soup and chicken dish and I was able to think more clearly.)
Dr. Larson also stated that her patients with allergies were prone to emotional outbursts and depression. In one case, a patient fasted for a week, with no symptoms. But, after a meal of pizza, the patient went into a fit of crying.
It is also interesting to note that many depression-prone people, alcoholics and suicide victims were mineral and vitamin deficient. Some were especially deficient in vitamin C and demonstrated symptoms of scurvy. A person’s nutrient-deficient brain will often contribute to low-blood sugar, confusion and even depression.
My own experiences with mega-dosages of nutrition have been that after taking massive amounts of B vitamins, adopting a high protein diet and cutting out bread and processed foods, I made greater muscle gains, slept better, drank less alcohol and gained better mental focus.
This is not to dismiss cognitive or group therapies, but rather give another tool in the toolbox of good health and fight against depression. I constantly urge my clients who are trying to lose weight or gain muscle to cut out the highly allergic foods that contain sugar, wheat and corn. Replace these foods with nerve-building, high protein foods like chicken, fish, beef and vegetable proteins. These along with fresh vegetables and berries promote stable blood sugar and feed one’s brain and nerve tissues.
Here is a typical low-energy diet:
Breakfast: Coffee, wheat toast, processed cereal
Snack: Coffee, Danish
Lunch: Salad with dressing, fruit-flavoured yogurt, French fries. Pop.
Supper: Coffee, burger and French fries
Snack: Ice cream
Not only is this diet packed with over 20 teaspoons of sugar, it depletes vitamin and mineral reserves and sends the person’s blood sugar on a roller coaster ride.
Here is a sugar stabilizing diet:
Breakfast: 2 eggs or egg whites and unsweetened oatmeal, one slice of rye, kamut or spelt toast. Multi-vitamin with minimum 500 mcg of vitamin B12, 100 mg of B1 and 300 mg vitamin C.
Snack: Crackers and cheese or humus
Lunch: Salmon salad
Supper: Stir fry chicken with brown rice
Snack: Oat crackers
The high-protein, low-glycemic eating pattern allows a slower flow of blood sugar to the brain and body. Hence, a more consistent level of energy and feeling of well-being. The protein feeds the muscles, nerves and other tissues while lower water retention.
Before someone protests that the following eating plan is too expensive, may I interject that cooking your own breakfast alone costs 1/5 of a fast food meal or a couple of chocolate bars or a gourmet coffee. So, do not even try that excuse. Many immigrant families eat good at a fraction of the cost of western or fast food.
Besides the cost of good nutrition and proper exercise will save you money in medical and lost wages from being sick and/or suffering from mild depression. (Note: this is not advice to cure depression. If you are clinically depressed, you should seek the services of a health professional.)