Depression is a growing concern that affects families everywhere now. All around the world, rates of suicides, anxiety, depression and traumatic stress have increased during Covid-19 and many people will be suffering for years to come. Here in Melbourne, the Stage 4 restrictions have been particularly difficult. I haven’t met anyone who hasn’t been affected by the pandemic. Everyone deals with it in their own way.
We’re slowly starting to talk about mental health but there’s still a stigma surrounding depression. Hence, the reason for this blog. You can read my last blog, ‘Why we need to talk about depression’ here.
My mission is to educate, demonstrate and expose the role that Diet and Nutrition has on peoples’ health, mood and overall feelings about the world. If I can make one more person healthier, one person more conscious of what they’re putting into their body and one person more in control of their emotional well-being through diet, then I feel as though my time has been well spent.
This is a time of snacking, junk and toxic food for too many people. Let’s make this happen, let’s work together and let’s create a Happier, Healthier, Less Depressed and more Joyful World.
Here are my 10 depression mythbusters:
- Depression is a sign of weakness
Depression is a medical condition just like asthma, hypertension or diabetes. It is a biological, environmental and psychological condition and is not related to someone’s strength of character. Anyone can get it.
You can get depression from:
- A poor diet. If you’re not getting the correct nutrients needed, for example, a lack of B vitamins and zinc are both strongly related to depression. The correct nutrients are also needed to make brain neurotransmitters (brain chemicals).
- If you have a poor diet, chances are you’ll have an unhealthy gut microbiome. The health of your gut microbiome is related to depression.
- You may have food intolerances or sensitivities without you knowing. This causes more inflammation in your body contributing to depression.
- Your hormone health is connected. For example, you may have hypothyroidism which can lead to depression.
- You may have nutrient imbalances and/or heavy metal toxicity. For example, a high level of copper which is implicated in depression. To find out more about testing, read here.
- You may have a biochemical imbalance. For example, pyroluria where zinc and vitamin B6 are unavailable in the body.
- A traumatic event like the pandemic can trigger depression. This is evident from the increase in depression, particularly among young people.
- Social isolation – you may naturally be an introvert but some social interaction helps with reducing depression. I know this is hard at this time and you may not want to reach out. Try it, it really does help.
2. Food doesn’t help depression
Your diet is closely related to depression. You may be low in nutrients that are specific to your brain chemicals and brain health. Your gut health is also related to depression. Your ‘bad’ gut bacteria loves sugar so they will be dictating how you eat and this is not what you want. One food that your ‘good’ gut bacteria love is veggies. I know the idea of eating more veggies sounds scary but you can do it slowly. For example, add a handful of spinach to your smoothie or snack on veggie sticks.
3. You only get depression after a traumatic event
Traumatic events can increase the risk of getting depression. However, you don’t need a traumatic event to trigger depression. It can happen at any time.
4. Depression isn’t a real illness
You know when you go to a conventional medical professional and they say ‘It’s all in your head’? Depression is a real illness and it has an effect on your thoughts, emotions and actions. You feel depression in your brain but your physical health, including your gut health is having an effect on your brain. The events leading up to depression also change the structure of certain parts of the brain related to motivation, learning, memory, emotions and managing fear.
5. Only women get depression
Men get depression too but they don’t tend to speak about what they’re going through freely like women do. In men, it is seen to be a sign of weakness because men are supposed to be macho, aren’t they?
6. Medication is the only treatment for depression
Definitely not. Yes, medication can help some people but not everyone. Diet and lifestyle play a large part, as well as getting psychological help. Psychological help could be in the form of a psychologist or a kinesiologist or art therapy to name a few. Everyone is different and it’s a matter of finding out what works best for you.
7. It’s too hard
I’ll admit, it might be at first but you won’t be doing it on your own. You need help to break those habits, you can’t do it on your own. Start small to see small changes. If you start big, you’ll get overwhelmed and won’t follow it through because life gets in the way, right? One small change is better than no change. Once you get the hang of that, make slightly bigger changes and you’ll see greater results quicker.
8. You always know when someone is depressed
Everyone suffers from depression in different ways and many hide their feelings and emotions because they don’t want to bother people with their problems. There’s also a stigma attached to mental health. I have known people who were ‘the life and soul of the party’, not knowing they had depression.
9. People think you’re lazy instead of depressed so you don’t need help
You’re definitely not lazy. You want a normal life and you desperately want to do the things you found joy in before but you can’t. You’re really tired and low in energy, not lazy. As I mentioned before, depression is a medical condition. Get help!
10. You have depression for life
Depression can be treated but you need to ask for help and you need to want to break those bad habits.
You can relieve depression by doing these 3 basic things:
The 1st thing is eat well – eating real, whole food helps depression. Of course, you can have treats every now and again. You can’t eat 100% healthily all the time. Eating real food reduces inflammation and improves the health of your gut which is linked to depression.
The 2nd thing is exercise/movement – clinical studies have shown that exercise can reduce depression. It has to be something you enjoy. If you struggle with this, do it with a friend, relative, work colleague or see a personal trainer. If it’s scheduled into your week and you’re paying someone, you’ll do it.
And the 3rd thing is self-care – you have to look after number 1. Women, in particular, are very good at looking after everyone else but themselves. Treat yourself with an experience, for example, a massage (when they re-open) or make time during the day to do something just for you. It could be reading a book or listening to music.
Some of you might be thinking, ‘How can I do those things when Covid-19 has changed my life!?’ You don’t have to do everything but you have to start taking those small steps. Even if those small steps seem too difficult, there are some amazing nutritional supplements that work with you to relieve those symptoms of despair.
Why should you act now? The longer you have depression, the harder it is to break those habits. Depression has been controlling your life. I know you don’t want that. I know that you want to control it. You want your energy back, you want to be proud of your body, you want to feel normal again and you want to have fun!