Depression & My Natural Remedies
The French lawyer, Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin wrote “Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.”
1 in 10 people in the U.S, struggles with depression. Today, there is new research that echoes Brillat-Savarin’s sentiment with the observation of inflammatory molecules produced by body fat called cytokine that can create inflammation throughout the body which in turn can increase depression. Inflammation can also occur when consuming processed meats, saturated animal fats, refined carbs/sugars, alcohol, smoking, etc. Neuroscientists have noticed that the hippocampus in the brain (which is responsible for long term memory and regulating mood) is smaller in people that are depressed and exercise and a clean diet can support nerve cell growth in the hippocampus, improving nerve cell connections, ultimately helping to relieve depression.
I started consuming a plant based diet over a year ago and that alone worked wonders for me. I effortlessly lost 20 pounds with my Beginner Vegan ebook, enjoying in abundance without calorie counting. If you’re on an omnivore diet, strongly consider cutting out the junk/processed foods and eating whole foods. Employing simple tactics like not eating out but creating clean food for yourself at home not only saves a ton of money, it ensures that you’re getting quality healthy food. Even a simple daily dense green juice or smoothie is a great start. There are a wealth of resources on how maintaining healthy microbiota can greatly alleviate depression. They don’t call it your second brain for nothing! Researchers at Johns Hopkins have also found a link to digestive health to a plethora of other diseases and its influence over our cognition making gut health an extremely vital part of our overall health.
In The How of Happiness, psychologist Sonja Lyubimirsky proposes that 50% of happiness is determined by genes, 10% circumstance and 40% by thoughts, actions, and attitudes. The latter is entirely in your control. Meditation and a variety of other mindfulness strategies have been enormously helpful in this for me. Your thoughts become your reality. Sonja also found that the happiest people spend time with their loved ones and practice gratitude and optimism. This may seem daunting at first but in actuality, your brain can begin “re-wiring” itself by saturating your thoughts in gratitude. An exercise to achieve this is to begin simply by thinking of 3 things you are grateful for every day. This primes your mind to be more receptive to the positive rather than the negative and can actually change its conditioned negative response. I can personally attest to how powerful this small step combined with the immense power of meditation has been. Game changer.
Pro tip: If the world is viewed through our perception which then creates our world, then it is important to recognize the quality of thoughts we are having. Observe without judging or forcing these thoughts in any particular way but rather, recognize when we are stuck in this thought pattern. Ask yourself, is this helpful, kind, or necessary? Think of 3 things that energized you and made you happy. Listen to the language of your body and do more of that. Now think of 3 things that did the complete opposite. Are those last 3 things worthy of your time and energy? What can you shift?
If you’ve ever experienced depression (beyond just normal moments of sadness), you realize just how physical it can be as well. A simple way to combat that is to move your body.
Getting your heart rate up for even 20 minutes a day doesn’t just do wonders for your physical body, it also releases “feel good” hormones called endorphins. A Harvard study even found that exercise can work just as well as antidepressants for some people. I of all people realize the glitch here is that when you’re already severely depressed and are struggling with little to no energy, insomnia or even pain, the last thing you want to do is get off your butt and exercise. Start small. Keep something sustainable in mind. Even a small victory is still a victory. Work your way up. I used to sweep and mop to my favorite music blaring. Swimming was also an easy way to get my body moving. Then, I graduated to volunteering at my friends farm or even gardening/cutting the grass. Today, I actually enjoy hiking, even if it’s still a struggle sometimes. The point is to move your body and get that body outdoors! “Earthing” is a very simple concept of connecting with earth energy be it walking barefoot, climbing trees or swimming in the sea. The highest concentration of negative ions can be found in natural fresh air which in itself carries many other benefits.
We only have this one life and you’re responsible for it being terrible or wonderful. The beautiful thing is that you can start anytime!
Disclaimer: this is what has sustainably worked for me in the past decade. Every year gets better as my dedication grows. It’s something I must work on every day. Sprinkling lack luster efforts here and there will not yield strong results. What initially sparked my interest in naturally alleviating my depression and anxiety began with a simple conversation with a physician friend of mine who noticed that medication made her patients symptoms worse over time along with its many unpleasant side effects. Again, this is just what has worked for me and I am not telling you what you should do.