5 Tips to Cure Depression Without Drugs
I have a history of depression. Anybody who has suffered or suffers from this condition knows it’s not fun and knows of the troubles lifting oneself out of this low state of being. Depression is an illness that affects many people, and may include some of your friends and family.
As a sufferer of depression, I was prescribed antidepressant medication to rectify the illness. However, I instead decided to take control of my own life and make positive enhancements to cure depression without the use of drugs. As a result of simple changes, I became happier and more vibrant through diet and lifestyle alterations.
Depression is complex, but ultimately comes down to chemical imbalance in the brain – this is what antidepressants aim to fix. Rather than treating only the symptoms, which drugs are designed to do, we can tackle the root causes.
Here are 5 tips to beat depression:
- Maintain omega fatty acids balance
- Get adequate sunshine
- Consume whole grains
- Eat more bananas
- Carb up
Maintain omega fatty acids balance
Maintaining a balance of omega3 and omega6 fatty acids is essential to good health, brain function and mood regulation. Unfortunately in today’s society the trend is too much omega6 and not enough omega3. What’s especially important for tackling depression is EPA. Predominant sources of EPA come from fish oil, algae oil or byproducts of yeast.
What we really want to do though is reduce omega6 fats – essentially entailing cutting out all non-supplementary oils. Then eat higher amounts of omega3 packed foods such as flaxseeds (which should be ground and can be sprinkled over meals) or chia seeds.
The general aim should be to maintain omega fatty acids ratio of 1:6 – meaning, one part omega3 to every six parts of omega6. This ensures optimal functioning for a healthy body.
If you choose to supplement, make sure to get a good source of EPA rather than DHA (many supplements contain both), as EPA is more effective for fighting low moods. For depression, a good dosage is at least 500mg of EPA per day, which should get balances back to a healthy state.
Personally I no longer supplement omega3 (EPA or DHA), but I regularly consume flaxseeds and eliminate oils and overt fats through following a low-fat dietary lifestyle. This balance of fatty acids helps keep my moods high and shiny!
Get adequate sunshine
The sun gives us a lot of benefits, the least of which is aid in helping keep us active and (hopefully!) socializing. What’s most important however is Vitamin D – an essential hormone which unfortunately many people are deficient in. Our skin is the best producer of this hormone, so long as it receives a good amount of exposure to the sun.
Vitamin D can also come in the form of supplements – D3 and D2 – or through fortified foods such as milks and cereals. During the winter supplementation may be advisory due to lesser UV light and also greater indoor activity and less skin exposure. Another option is a sun lamp.
As little as 15 minutes of sun exposure on arms and face may be all that’s necessary per day for most, but this depends on time of day, place on Earth, weather and type of skin. Stay active and supplement if in doubt.
Consume whole grains
Why whole grains? Because they’re lower in GI plus they’ll get you away from processed and refined foods. White bread is evil, so treat it as such!
The general goal is to eliminate high GI foods, which includes foods with added sugars. This prevents hormone imbalances, keeps insulin under control, and ensures adequate fiber intake.
Magnesium deficiency is also quite common and can lead to depression. Fortunately, whole grains are high in magnesium and can help rectify low mood states. Unfortunately, refined grain products such as white bread are virtually void of magnesium (not to mention low in fiber, high in GI and closer to a simple rather than complex carbohydrate).
Cut out all refined wheat products, which includes white bread, white pasta, etc. Brown is the way to go! Eliminate processed foods as they are low in nutrients, high in calories and increase insulin. Whole grains can be important for optimal health. Other sources of magnesium include legumes, leafy greens, and … bananas.
Eat more bananas
There’s probably not a single food in existence that combats depression better than banana.
Have you ever seen a depressed monkey?
Bananas contain just about every nutrient. You can practically live off of just bananas (in fact, I have at some points in my life). Like whole grains, bananas are high in fiber, which are prebiotics – resulting in improved digestion through enhanced well-being of gut flora. Bananas are filling, satisfying, and have loads of positive impacts on brain health and serotonin production.
Fruit in general is excellent for boosting mood … leading onto the next topic: carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates provide fuel for body and brain. We run off of glucose (a sugar and carbohydrate) – we need glucose, and can’t function without it.
Sugar is your friend (when in whole foods form). Fruits are packed with water, antioxidants, fructose and glucose, which all work together to provide strong health. Starch is your friend, too. Carbohydrates should be the predominant source of calories in your diet.
We need calories for energy, and carbohydrates for happy, vibrant health. Under-eating or calorie restricting leads to low mood levels. Having lots of carbs results in lots of energy, higher mood levels and greater activity. Carbohydrates also help you stay lean and healthy.
Notice a trend? A key to being happy is cutting out all the junk, eating healthy whole foods, and going out in the sun. Eat shit and you’ll feel like shit, it’s really that simple.
Depression is a complex condition and there are many contributing factors, and many elements interact with one another. But the fundamentals are down to a science. Drugs can be effective to numb the mind and re-balance chemical levels within the brain; a good diet high in essential nutrients and lower in GI is even better.
I hope you find these tips helpful. If you have anything else to add, or any questions to ask, please leave a comment below.