Symptoms, Treatments & Foods that Help
Signs and Symptoms
How do you know when you're just going through a difficult time or if it's something more serious? At what point are you considered clinically depressed? While a doctor is the only one who can make a qualified diagnosis, there are signs and symptoms of depression that can signal your need to see a professional. This article lists some of the common signs of depression as well as suggested natural treatments and a list of the top depression fighting foods.
Feeling particularly depressed in the morning is a sign that you may be clinically depressed. Feeling sad all day is also sign of depression, but morning blues, where you just want to stay in or go back to bed is a classic sign of depression.
There is a connection between anger and depression. Blowing up and yelling at people without the ability to control yourself may signify depression.
Irritability is slightly different from anger. It is feeling snappish, frustrated or annoyed as opposed to an angry blow-up. Irritability connected to depression may make you feel on edge most of the time.
Do you find yourself wanting to give up because things seem like they're just too much? Do you often say, "I just can't take anymore”? Depression can make you feel overwhelmed and over-stressed even when your schedule is not terribly demanding. A simple request for you to do something may send you over the edge and make you feel stressed.
People experiencing depression may constantly compare themselves to others. A not-too-demanding schedule may seem overwhelming to a depressed person, making them feel inadequate that he or she can't handle a schedule that others seem to handle just fine. This sets up a cycle of feeling inadequate, not able to accomplish much, then feeling inadequate about it, etc.
Insomnia or Excessive Sleepiness
Ironically, depression can cause some people to lose sleep, while it makes others want to sleep all the time (hypersomnia).
Lack of Interest
Are you just not interested in outside activities? Are things that you once looked forward to and enjoyed, now burdensome? Do you feel you “have to trudge through” in order to get things done? This may be a sign that you’re depressed.
Changes in Weight
Both weight loss and weight gain may be symptoms of depression. Generally, if you gain or lose 5% or more of your body weight in a month, it may be a sign of depression. Of course, weight changes are only one of many possible symptoms.
Depression can make decision making very difficult. Even simple decisions can be quite a task for a depressed person. Your schedule may look like gibberish, you may not show up for scheduled events or you may get dates wrong often. Everyone makes scheduling mistakes, but if this is a reoccurring issue and you just can't seem to get a handle on your schedule, it may be a sign of depression.
Inability to Concentrate
Depressed people often have trouble concentrating. Your mind may wander, and you may feel like you just can't get it together.
Natural Treatments for Depression
If you suffer from mild to moderate depression, you may be interested in natural treatments. Even cases of severe depression benefit from natural remedies in conjunction with medication. Supplements, lifestyle changes and alternative therapy are some of the natural treatments that can make a big difference. Be safety conscious. Below are a some of the more popular natural treatments for depression.
Eat Good Food!
Health experts agree that diet plays a key role in managing depression. Some dietary changes you can make include:
- Eating nutrient-dense foods. This helps make sure your body has all the vitamins and minerals it needs for proper brain function. Fresh produce, nuts, and whole grains are rich in vital nutrients.
- Essential fatty acids. EFAs help boost mood in depressed individuals. EFAs can be found in healthy oils like olive or safflower as well as fish and nuts.
- Cut back or even eliminate refined white sugar and corn syrup. These refined sweeteners cause blood sugar spikes and slumps, which contribute to the symptoms of depression.
- Eat whole foods. Whole foods such as whole grains and fresh produce not only provide depressed individuals with much-needed, healthy carbs, it also minimizes artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives from the diet. These artificial substances contribute to symptoms of depression.
Be Gentle with Yourself
- Breaking up large tasks into small ones, set priorities, and do what you can as you can.
- Spending time with other people and confide in a trusted friend or relative.
- Postponing important life decisions until you feel better. Discuss decisions with others who know you well.
- Avoiding self-medication with alcohol or with drugs not prescribed for you.
Chiropractic and other Body Treatments
These alternative therapies are finally gaining acceptance among medical experts. Chiropractic adjustments, massage, acupuncture, and other similar treatments help relieve depression symptoms. They improve circulation and help the body eliminate toxins. Other body treatments include:
- Dance therapy
- Martial arts
Exercise can be difficult even if you’re not depressed. However, it’s even more important to exercise when in a state of depression as it’s been proven to help relieve symptoms of depression. It boosts brain chemicals that make you feel much better and balances activity with rest. Keeping a balanced lifestyle is extremely helpful when dealing with depression. Keep in mind that being consistent with your exercise routine is more important than hitting it hard. Thirty to 60 minutes a day for 3 to 6 days a week will have a significant impact on relieving feelings of depression.
Always check with your doctor before supplementing with herbs to avoid adverse drug/herb interactions and find a qualified herbalist. As you research natural treatments, take care to be thorough. Even if a natural therapy is safe and effective, it may not be enough as a sole treatment. It's important to work with your health care provider to make sure depression is treated effectively.
Top Depression-Fighting Foods
What you eat most often has a direct effect on your mood. Many medical professionals and natural health experts stress the role of nutrients in fighting depression. Certain foods contain depression-fighting nutrients. Below are some of the top depression-fighting nutrients and the foods that contain them:
L-tryptophan and L-tyrosine are two amino acids said to boost mood. Your body needs these substances to make the important brain chemicals serotonin and norepinephrine. Supplements may or may not be absorbed well by your body. Experts suggest foods high in these amino acids as a more efficient source. Some foods with these amino acids include:
- Pumpkin Seeds (Pepitas)
B6 and B12 essential fatty acids (the good fats) are extremely important for regulating mood and treating depression. Some sources of B6 include:
- Garbanzo beans
Some sources of B12 include:
- Cow's milk
Folate (folic acid) has a profound effect on important neurotransmitters. Specific beans that have the most folate include:
- Pinto beans
- Black beans
Magnesium is an important depression-fighting nutrient. Foods high in magnesium include:
- Black Beans
- Oat bran
Iron and Calcium are found in dark leafy greens and other vegetables, which are also rich in folate. These include:
- Collard greens
- Turnip greens
Zinc is required by the brain to produce anti-anxiety compounds. Foods with zinc include:
- Pumpkin seeds
Healthy Fats and Vitamin E are found in nuts and seeds. The best nuts for combating depression include:
- Sunflower seeds
- Pumpkin seeds (these little seeds contain a lot of depression-fighting nutrients!)
- Filberts (Hazelnuts)
Vitamin C, Antioxidants and Vitamin E In addition to vitamin C, which is necessary to process B12 and iron, tomatoes provide antioxidants and vitamin E. Tomato sauce and fresh tomatoes both provide beneficial nutrients for depression.
Healthy Carbs Depression can induce carb cravings, which in the modern world means cravings for sugary snacks. Healthy carbs are said to be a key factor in fighting depression. So, give your body the carbs it’s asking for, but in a healthy form. Examples of healthy carbs include:
- Whole Grains
- Brown rice
- Whole wheat
As you review this list, you may be getting some ideas for meals, combinations and a shopping list. Think of combining these ingredients to make casseroles, soups, salads, and other tasty dishes. When you feed your body the nutrients it needs, you will find drastic changes in your mood and your energy levels.
Remember, the first step in getting the right treatment is to visit a health care provider or mental health professional. Your health care provider can perform an exam, an interview and take lab tests to rule out other health conditions that may have similar symptoms as depression. Try to do things that you used to enjoy and go easy on yourself.