Introduction and Overview
Depression and anxiety is a growing problem in America.
Depression has become very big. Feelings of “helplessness, loss of hope, sadness, crying, sleep or appetite disturbances, or difficulty concentrating, for at least two straight weeks” are sufficient for the very common diagnosis of “clinical depression.” Over the past half-century, hospitalizations for depression have increased almost thirty times, from 9.8 per 100,000 in 1943 (in New York, which had more per capita than any other state) to an estimated 280 per 100,000 (nationally) in 1994.
Nathaniel S. Lehrman, M.D. (quoted by Joseph Mercola M.D.)
Depression can be caused by unreasonable expectations, financial concerns, family concerns, and can even be made worse, or be initiated by, the foods that are partaken. In many cases, it is a combination of several different issues. This article will discuss issues separately, knowing that there may, in fact, be multiple contributing factors influencing the problem.
Everyone has their “bad days.” Other people may do things that are not expected or appreciated, causing a person to be highly disappointed. Or a person might believe that another person is “Polly Perfect,” who seemingly has never had a care in her life, and somehow goes through life without any problems. These, and other emotional issues can cause emotional problems.
But there is far more to it than emotional or psychological issues. Why is one person depressed by their problems, while another person who has more reasons to be depressed not affected by their problems?
In many cases, a relatively normal situation is compounded by foods that are eaten. It is not that foods are bad, it is the way that foods are processed and it is the things that are added to the foods that can be bad. A person who eats whole, raw foods, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, rarely has foods contribute to their psychological problems. But even in this case, food allergies may come into play.
Several theories exist within the alternative health and wellness community regarding the causes of depression. One such theory is that the excessive consumption of aspartame in America is the root cause for depression and dependency on prescriptions such as Prozac. The basis of the theory is that aspartame is believed to be an “excitotoxin” because it stimulates brain cells far beyond their normal state. This stimulation can actually lead to brain cell death. Another excitotoxin is monosodium glutamate, also known as MSG. Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein (HVP) frequently has MSG added to it. These two substances, which are also known by many other names, are added to virtually EVERY junk food on earth, including foods purchased at major restaurants. It may very well be that people who eat a lot of junk food, especially if they drink aspartame, are at major risk for depression.
It should be made perfectly clear that many emotional problems are predominantly caused by diet. It may be a food allergy (e.g. to food dye) or a substance added to foods (e.g. aspartame or MSG) or the way foods are processed (e.g. trans-fatty acids), or heavy metals that find their way into the body (e.g. mercury and aluminum from vaccinations) but foods frequently play a far more significant part than most people realize.
It will help immensely to know what causes the problem. And since the problem may be a food problem, such as a food allergy, too much aspartame, lack of a critical nutrient, etc. it is critical to understand everything that might be a cause, especially those things that are beyond situational events.
Another issue that needs to be dealt with is whether to seek professional help or to deal with the problem within the circle of family and friends. This decision can only be made by the family, but the decision is not always an easy one.
The first level is to deal with the problem using family and friends. This level should include an analysis of what foods are eaten and may be contributing to the problem. Many cases which appear to have nothing to do with food are in fact caused mainly by food issues.
However, in cases where self harm and suicidal thoughts are at risk, immediately seek professional help for the short term, and deal with the causes in the long term.
However, there is a trade-off in dealing with professional help. When a person is forcefully put in a mental ward of a hospital there is a permanent stigma that may cause more long-term harm than by dealing with the problem within the family. Each case is different and each case must be dealt with common sense and much contemplation.
Food Issues – The Bad Substances
Common food allergies include dairy products (e.g. milk and cheese), wheat, food colorings, food additives, etc.
There are two basic ways a person can isolate food allergies. First, go to a medical doctor who specializes in isolating food allergies.
Another option is to abstain from common ingredients, processed foods and focus on whole foods for a period of about three weeks. If this provides relief, there is a pretty good chance food allergies are a contributing factor, if not a major cause. After three weeks foods can be reintroduced into the diet, one food every couple of days, to isolate what might be causing the problem.
Some cases of autism, ADHD, ADD, and many other mental disorders, can also be traced to food allergies, sometimes called brain allergies. And by far the number one cause of these types of allergies are dairy products.
Heavy Metals (plus aluminum)
Trans-fatty acids are a little more complicated. Trans-fatty acids are rigid molecules that attach to cell walls, in place of the pliable cholesterol. If enough trans-fatty acids attach to a cell wall, significant damage can be done because large molecules, such as the insulin molecule and oxygen clusters, cannot get into the cell.
If enough cells become like this the person will likely develop Type II diabetes. It is highly likely that trans-fatty acids, found in margarine, fried foods, peanut butter, etc. are the leading cause of Type II diabetes.
So what does this have to do with depression? Trans-fatty acids interfere with the absorption by the body of EFAs. As will be seen below, omega-3 EFAs are a major help to those with depression or anxiety. In other words, the effect of trans-fatty acids on depression or anxiety is an indirect effect that blocks one of the necessary nutrients needed for good mental health.
Other potential causes:
- Acid / Alkaline balance
- Fungus / Yeast / Mould (microbes) –
- Acne Medication
- LOW cholesterol
- Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS)
- Birth Control Pills
Food Issues – The Good Substances (Research is ongoing)
- St. John's Wort
- L-Tryptophan (amino acid)
- Organic Germanium
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin C and niacin
- Noni Juice
- Rosemary (herb)
- Certain B vitamins
Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids
Omega-3 can best be obtained through flaxseed oil, fish oil or walnuts. However, there are many other foods that contain omega-3 is less dense quantities. Perhaps the single best source of omega-3 is spirulina. It also contains GLA (omega-6).
Fish oil has also been shown in many studies, to reduce your bad cholesterol levels and reduce plaque buildup in your blood. By reducing your bad cholesterol, you are helping your body to fight off stress and relieve anxiety, tension and even prevent heart disease. Fish and other foods that are high in Omega-3 are excellent ways to help your bloodstream. (1)
Vitamin B3, Niacin
Vitamin B6, Pyridoxine
Vitamin B9, Folic Acid
Vitamin B12, Cobalamin
Folic Acid (required for energy production) is considered brain food. The brain needs it to work properly. It helps to prevent anxiety and fatigue. Folic acid works best when combined with vitamin C, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12.
Much research has indicated that a deficiency of folic acid may cause depression, insomnia, anorexia, forgetfulness, hyper-irritability, apathy, fatigue, and anxiety. (1)
GABA (Gamma Aminobutyric Acid) is an amino acid help reduce anxiety, allows rational decision making, promotes restful sleep and enhances workout recovery. It has also been shown to have similar effects as the benzodiazepine drugs.
You will also feel more relaxed and notice that you are sleeping better.
Selenium, an important antioxidant, is a trace mineral found in soil and food. It protects neurotransmitters. Deficiency in selenium has shown to have a negative impact on mood. It also helps to reduce bad cholesterol and keep the heart healthy.
You can get much of your selenium from dietary sources such as Alfalfa, fennel seed, ginseng, butter, garlic, liver, Brazil nuts, shellfish and other fishes. You can find it in sunflower seeds, yarrow, wheat germ, and Brewer's yeast.
L-Tryptophan (an amino acid) and 5-HTP
St. John's wort
St. John's wort is a herb that has been around for centuries for medicinal purposes, including depression.
Some of the Emotional Causes of Depression
The Actions of Others
We live in an imperfect world. It is not always a fun place to be. People who seem to be perfect on the outside, sometimes turn out to be imperfect on the inside. In fact, some people are seriously “hurt” by the actions of others.
These actions may have been intentionally designed to damage the feelings of another person or they may have been totally innocent and either led to unintended hurt feelings or the “guilty” person may not have even known the feelings of anther were hurt.
If it is the actions of others that have caused deep emotional scars, it is necessary to first determine whether the actions or words of others were designed to do damage or had other intentions in mind. This is not because this determination is important, but it is important to help avoid unnecessary mental pain.
Everyone has said things that unintentionally hurt others. It is part of life on earth. One person may say something that means something specific to the person who said it, and what was said may even have been intended to complement or make another person feel good about themselves. On the other hand, the “victim” may interpret the statement in a totally different light. We have all been the unintended “bad guy” and we have all been the innocent victim.
Other things that can happen unintentionally is a person may say something before thinking about the possible damage done by the statement. They may try to “take it back,” but by then it may be too late – the damage is done.
Then there is the rare case where a person really does intend to hurt the feelings of others. Few people intentionally seek to hurt the feelings of others, but it does happen. These people are, by definition, immature.
It is important from a mental standpoint to not harbor grudges and ill feelings towards another person, even when their actions were inexcusable. Even people who are not religious have come to this conclusion.
In fact, many cases of depression are caused DIRECTLY by the person's inability to “forgive” another person who has harmed them or a close relative or friend. Let it go. Say to yourself: “God will be the judge.” Then let it go.
It is a difficult thing to do, but it is absolutely necessary.
We all, by nature, want to feel important. It is doubtful that anyone has gone through life without the desire to be appreciated and feel the respect of others. That is not what is different between us.
What is different is our reaction to “failure,” as we suppose. Some people take unexpected results right in stride and barely even notice what has happened.
But others, for whatever reason, have a very different reaction. They become depressed as if they were a “failure” in life. Why people care so much about others think about them is a mystery, but some people are so concerned about what other people think about them that they become depressed when they do not meet their expectations.
Our attitude should be one of: “I will do my best to be accepted by others, but if they do not accept me, I will be fine.”
There is the hypothetical and mystical human being called “Polly Perfect.” She has never existed, but somehow people insist on comparing themselves to “her.” Her house is perfect – there is not a piece of dust in her house. She easily masters all of her community assignments. She takes care of her husband with the greatest of ease. Her kids are little angels. She is a pillar of her community. She never has any stress. She never has any problems. And she is pure fiction.
Sometimes we want to be like Polly Perfect. It won’t happen. It can’t happen.
But what is bad is that when some people fail to live up to the mirage, they become depressed and stressed.
Children frequently are the ones that get depressed or stressed out. Sorry, but parents, sometimes, are a big cause of their problems.
Children may not have a good comprehension of what “priorities” are, but they have an innate ability to feel what their parent's priorities are.
Every child on earth has a perfect understanding of their parent's priorities, even if they don't understand the terminology. It is built into being a child.
First, let’s talk about punishing children. Some parents punish their children far too much. Let me repeat that: far too much.
One thing that really irritates me is parents who have the attitude: “if I said something it must be fulfilled.” God can say that, but not parents. Parents make mistakes about their punishments and should be willing to back-off of their stupid statements.
A family should be designed to provide strong mental support for children growing up. That is one of its main purposes. This strong mental support must be done by the interaction between parents and children as friends, with love, not by a tirade of one punishment after another.
It is doing things with your children, that they like to do, that gives them a clear picture that they are loved.
One thing that needs to be emphasized. A child can see through hypocrisy and guile as easily as they can see through a window. The true values of parents cannot be hidden from children.
If we were to list all of the things that needed to be done over the next 48 hours, everyone in America would have stress. We live in a world where things go wrong far faster than they go right. Things tend to disarray, not order (this was one of Newton’s laws).
If we work outside the home, we have stress caused by our job. But even if we work inside the home we have stress. If we have children, we are stressed by the children. If we have community responsibilities, we are stressed by them. And so on. The list of things each of us has to do is far too long.
So what can we do?
There are two things we must do. First, tell our spouse and hope he or she understands and is willing to help. Second, cut back on the things that are not necessary for our family.
We cannot cut back on our family responsibilities, but perhaps we can cut back on many of the unnecessary things we do.
But we also must mentally rest each day. Just sit back and listen to good music when a few moments can be cut out of the day.
We may want to cut back on our community responsibilities.
Each case is different, but we must first acknowledge and openly attempt to reduce the stress in our lives.
Psychologists and Psychiatrists
“Psychiatrists” as those who generally use prescription drugs to treat their patients and “psychologists” as those who predominantly use counseling as their treatment.
A good social worker will try to get a person (usually a child) out of a bad situation and put them in a good situation.