13 Jun Rx for those summer doldrums
by Melenie Dunn, NMD
It’s summer! And the living is easy… or so the song goes. The truth is many of us deal with some degree of depression. The medical community would have us believe that it can be fixed up with a pill. However time has revealed the lie… SSRI’s (a category of antidepressants) are no more effective than placebo. At worst, over 85% of patients who take antidepressants may become chronically depressed and the potential side effects are not insignificant. They include increased risk of diabetes, dementia, brittle bones, stroke and a depressed immune system, to name a few.
There are many roads to depression. Ideally, each version should be handled relative to its cause. In this way, no harm is done, the condition is not allowed to develop into other levels and it can actually be resolved rather than masked.
Nutritional deficiencies are a common cause of depression. This form may even be exacerbated in the summer. High heat, dehydration and sweating can deepen electrolyte and mineral depletions. The body can compensate for deficiencies only so much before function is compromised. For example, Vitamins D and B are too often deficient with far-reaching consequences. Vitamin D affects serotonin metabolism, and insulin sensitivity. Low Vitamin D levels can cause bowel inflammation, depression and diabetic neuropathic pain. Optimal Vitamin D enables the body to naturally produce its own broad-spectrum antibiotic and well as to protect itself from many invasive cancers, including pancreatic, ovarian, breast, skin, lung, prostatic and colorectal. The ideal range for vitamin D blood levels is 50-70ng/ml. Vitamin B deficiency can cause depression as well as numerous neurologic disorders.
Low thyroid function can feel like depression. There are many causes but most common is due to diet. For example, bread products are often treated with bromine, a mineral competitive with iodine. Iodine is the mineral central to thyroid hormone production and is already scant in the typical diet. Low thyroid hormone causes depression, suppresses immune function and slows metabolism in general.
Fluctuations in blood sugar can lead to depression. A diet in excessive sugars and starches lead to chronically high insulin, which leads to insulin and leptin resistance and hypoglycemia. Many people can experience a “bipolar-like” sensation of initial manic energy after sugar-loading followed by the depressive “crash” once insulin has cleared blood glucose. Excessive sugars and artificial sweeteners cause inflammation in the digestive tract, feed pathogens and promote dysbiosis.
The digestive tract, or “gut,” has its own “brain” called the enteric nervous system. This system actually has greater communication to the brain than the brain does to the gut. Signals are transmitted from gut bacteria, or the “microbiome” dependent on diet. These signals influence how hundreds of genes express themselves. It is in the gut where neurotransmitters like serotonin and GABA are produced by neurons. Studies have demonstrated that there is a different mix of gut bacteria in people who maintain a healthy weight versus people who are obese and/or diabetic. The waste products of certain gut flora can produce sensations of anxiety and/or depression. Ideally, gut flora helps with digestion, production of B vitamins and reduction of inflammation.
So, is there a better solution to depression than a prescription? As a matter of fact there is. Address the cause. Respect the body. Remove any obstacles to healing and provide what is needed. The basics…
• Follow a diet of clean protein, low-glycemic, high fiber vegetables, good quality fats and abundant clean water.
• Optimize your nutrition. Supplements of Vitamin D3 and omega 3 oils should be taken with food. A good probiotic will protect the microbiome. An anti-inflammatory such as curcumin with bioperine will minimize the negative effects of a less-than-ideal diet and lifestyle. A B-100 Complex will help to replace what’s deficient while correcting other elements.
• Exercise. Just get moving. Whatever that looks like for you. Every day.
• Gratitude for your life.
• Service to others in any form.
That’s my prescription. Start there and see how the sun breaks through the clouds.