I suffered from depression for ten years before I tried natural approaches. Without doubt the natural approach was way more effective for me than the drugs. Here are my 7 recommendations:-
Number 1: Sugar!!
I simply cannot emphasize this enough. You MUST cut sugar out of your diet. It’s a real killer.
In my own depression journey, this was the first thing that gave me any significant relief. I went “cold turkey” on cutting sugar from my diet and almost overnight I had a clarity in my brain that I hadn’t had for five years. In my case it’s processed white sugar that really kills me the most. For some reason I seem to be able to cope with small amounts of honey and pure Maple Syrup – but give me plain white sugar and I can spend a whole day in bed. And I’m not exaggerating that.
When I went off white sugar the first time, I tried to cut every single food out that had sugar in there – including things like bread. It’s HARD! If you have never looked at what foods have sugar in them – you will be amazed. Almost everything has sugar in there somewhere.
We all know about sugar cravings, followed by sugar crashes – and then needing more sugar to make us feel better. Well my depression was almost that on a much grander scale. I couldn’t see it at the time. But when I cut sugar from my diet – I can’t emphasize this enough – the relief was HUGE! Still to this day I can’t eat desserts like a normal person might – I will be in the pits the next day – sometimes actually within half an hour of eating that sugary treat.
So try ditching sugar – there are lots of books out there to help you – and look up “That Sugar Film” – it will blow your mind.
Number 2: Get More Sun – or Vitamin D
All of us (human beings) evolved getting regular sunlight. Sunlight allows your body to make natural Vitamin D, and has other health benefits as well. First, sunlight is thought to increase serotonin, the hormone that helps you feel good. Low levels of serotonin is thought to be one of the primary causes of depression (although this paradigm is increasingly being challenged).
Some people are vulnerable to experiencing depression in the winter months, often called Seasonal Affect Disorder. I live in Ireland (not a lot of sun here at ANY time of the year!) but in winter in particular it is harder to get the sun you would need to stay mentally in top shape. So personally, I have a light in my office that gives me the type of light I need. Just search Amazon for SAD light, 10,000 LUX and you will find them. I find this helps me through the long winter months. I also supplement with vitamin D. Personally I take between 5,000 and 10,000 IU of Vitamin D per day – but we always have to tell you to check with your doctor before taking supplements. That’s the law?
And remember too – not all light is created equal. For example, light from your computer screen and phone screen have lots of high-frequency blue light. This light reaches your eyes and stimulates something called melanopsin, which then reduces melatonin. Melatonin is the hormone that regulates sleep by helping you relax and feel tired at night.
So, the impact of watching TV and looking at phones and computers at night is decreased melatonin, and potentially trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. And poor sleep never helps depression.
So the long and the short of it – by increasing your exposure to sunlight during the day, and reducing your exposure to computer screens and TV and phones at night, you can help prevent depression, protect your sleep, and feel better from the increased Vitamin D from the sun. And failing that – get those vitamin D capsules….
Number 3: Fun Physical Exercise
Physical exercise can help prevent or reverse depression several ways:
1. Exercise feels good to the body
2. Exercise increases serotonin in the body (the neurotransmitter that those suffering from depression are lacking)
3. Exercise increases heart rate, which can help restore emotions
4. Exercise feels productive, and can leave you feeling good that you have accomplished something
5. Exercise can be fun
6. Exercise can be a social experience and help strengthen social ties and increase feelings of love, acceptance, and support
It’s important that any exercise you do should be enjoyable for you. If it isn’t enjoyable, it is unlikely you are going to continue to do it. And exercise must be done regularly if it is going to help protect you from depression.
Here’s an IMPORTANT POINT that I found was relevant to myself. Often, I would be so depressed that even though I knew exercise would help – there was no way I could bring myself to do it. Making me feel EVEN MORE GUILTY and therefore – MORE DEPRESSED. It was a vicious cycle. There’s a fine line between beating yourself up because you can’t do the exercise -and rightly trying to force yourself to do it because you know it will help in the long run.
Number 4: Drink LOTS of Water
Being Hydrated is critical to feeling good and having good energy. A lot of people who are depressed experience reduced levels of energy, and dehydration can definitely cause depression to be a lot worse.
But please – make sure you are drinking water that is actually good for you – because some kinds of water can actually make things worse.
Currently in most US states, tap water around the country has Fluoride added to it. Whether or not fluoride in tap water protects teeth is a much-debated topic, but what we do know is that drinking water with fluoride is very bad for you. That’s especially true if your body is already tired and run down from a condition like depression or diabetes.
For example, one study found that children who drank fluoridated water were more likely to have problems with their thyroid hormones. Another study found that fluoride in drinking water was associated with liver damage and kidney damage in children.
So make sure that the water you are drinking does NOT contain fluoride. ALSO – if you can afford to –
Get yourself a Hydrogen Water filter. Make sure that it eliminates Fluoride from your supply as previously discussed. But the beauty of these is that they also add H2 to your water and there are over 700 studies that show H2 is a great addition to your health regime. I’ve used an Echo H2 machine myself – and it’s really helped me. You can get more details on them HERE.
Number 5: Take a Niacin Supplement
This was another CRUCIAL step in me getting a handle on my depression. There is a very long and well documented history of people successfully using niacin to beat depression. Dr Abram Hoffer used Niacin to cure Bill W (the founder of alcoholics Anonymous) of HIS depression – and Bill W was so impressed that he actually wanted to build the vitamin therapy into the AA protocols, as he knew that most alcoholics also suffered from depression. His Advisory Board were not persuaded and it never came to pass.
Niacin in it’s pure form will make you flush – that’s where you get a red tingling and probably a very red skin rash. It’s totally harmless, but can scare the pants off you if you aren’t expecting it.
There are other forms of Niacin that do NOT make you flush – such as Niacinamide and Inositol Hexaniacinate. The protocols and explanations are WAY beyond the scope of this book -but you can find a lot of information at www.doctoryourself.com , the website of my good friend Dr Andrew Saul. Just search Niacin, Abram Hoffer, Depression and you will have enough material to keep you reading for a week.
My own personal story? I hated the flush, so I started taking 3,000mg of Niacinamide every day, split into three doses of 1,000mg each time. Along with the ditching of sugar, this was without doubt the biggest contributing factor to getting a handle on my depression. I still take it to this day.
Number 6: Take other Supplements
Many supplements are touted to help with depression – these are just a few of them.
Research has shown that magnesium and a deficiency in magnesium is related to depression. And patients given magnesium supplements can quickly “snap out of” that same depression.
Reviewing 21 studies on magnesium and its relationship to depression, researchers concluded that magnesium significantly reduces depressive symptoms, and it may even be able to reverse depression completely.
The researchers conclude:
“Oral magnesium supplementation may prevent depression and might be used as an adjunctive therapy.”
Magnesium supplements are easy to find and relatively inexpensive. The important thing is finding magnesium that is absorbed by your body.
Magnesium Oxide is basically a waste of time – and that’s the kind most often found in cheaper Magnesium supplements in your Walmart’s and so on. So look for a better form of Magnesium – I personally take a Magnesium Powder, but there are many many kinds you can get that will help you tremendously. Just do a little homework, look at reviews and get yourself a decent Magnesium. I still take it every day.
Foods high in Magnesium:
You can also get magnesium from food. And food is often the preferred source of minerals, because we as human beings evolved eating food, so our bodies are familiar with what to do with nutrients absorbed from food.
*Note: It is very hard to overdose on magnesium, especially if you are supplementing with the recommended dose. If you are concerned about preventing depression or reducing depressive symptoms, it is recommended to increase magnesium-rich food and supplement with liquid magnesium. It is extremely unlikely that such a regimen will have any negative consequences, and you getting enough magnesium could make a big difference with your depression.Here are some magnesium-rich foods:
● Dark chocolate
● Leafy greens (like broccoli, kale and chard)
● Chia seeds (soak them in water first)
● Fatty fish, like salmon and tuna
Zinc has been found to be low in the serum of those suffering fromdepression. In fact, the more depressed someone is, the lower the zinc level… Zinc supplementation has been shown to have antidepressant effects and again, I take a Zinc supplement every day – 30mg. I wouldn’t be without it.
My good friend Andrew Saul says on DoctorYourself.com …“Ample amounts of B-complex vitamins, especially B-6 (pyridoxine) must be present for for your body’s normal, depression-fighting chemical reactions to occur. B-6 deficiency is very common in Americans, and that “deficiency” is measured against an already ridiculously low US RDA of only two milligrams. The amount of B-6 needed for clinical effectiveness in, say, rabbits is the human dose equivalent of 75 mg daily. That is over 35 times more than the RDA!”
I have tried many other supplements –some have helped – some I’m not so sure – I have given you brief notes below – you really need to try things for yourself and see what results you get.
Chromium – known to help blood sugar issues
GABA – A supplement that’s becoming more popular for depression and anxiety
B-Complex – Andrew Saul would again insist that you take this if you were suffering from depression
Vitamin C – helps with Depression and a HOST of other things – but you need a decent dose -usually WAY more than the RDA
Number 7: Avoid Alcohol
Not only are hangover’s painful and reduce your energy, but alcohol may deplete essential minerals, which may in itself contribute to depression.
Researchers found that alcohol caused a loss of magnesium in humans, via increased excretion through the urine. Essentially, alcohol decreases magnesium in your body, and considering all of the evidence linking a magnesium deficiency to depression ( as already discussed) and increasing magnesium to reduce depression, it is clear that drinking alcohol is a self-defeating behavior if you are looking to prevent or heal depression.
Alcohol provides short-term pleasure and sacrifices long-term health and happiness. And that’s especially true for those at risk for depression.
Again, in the real world – I know that when you are depressed, sometimes it feels like alcohol is the only way out. But PLEASE – it’s a very dangerous way out – and not at all good for you long term. So be very careful before reaching for that bottle.
Number 8: the 80% diet
Yes, I know this is a seven-part. But we try to give value for money! 🙂
In everything we have talked about, I’m assuming – probably wrongly – that you realize that what you eat is crucial. If your body is not getting fresh, natural nutrients, I believe depression at some time in life is almost inevitable.
In the new series, Live Longer! – we emphasize that almost ALL modern health experts agree that we should be eating AT LEAST 80% of our food from ORGANIC fruits and vegetables. Often, there is little else that they will agree on – but they all agree on this. So for us, that’s a great starting point.AND AGAIN – to emphasize – that’s a CRUCIAL FIRST STEP. Stop eating junk that’s full of chemicals and additives -and start eating a fresh and nutritious diet that will give your brain the nutrients it needs.
Live Longer, Feel Better!
Defeating Dementia, Depression & Diabetes
It was really my own depression that led me into making films about health. About five years ago I first discovered that niacin helped me a lot with my symptoms. Through researching that I found Dr Andrew Saul, and together we made That Vitamin Movie, my first attempt at film making.
Live Longer, Feel Better! Is our latest project. It in I talk at length about the effects my own depression had on me, as well as about the things I did to try to stop it. I think you’ll find it interesting and useful. The first episode goes live at 6 PM Eastern US time on April 23rd. I hope you can join me.
Thanks for reading this – I hope it helps you in some small way and I hope you’ll join us in the documentary to take the journey (and your knowledge) further. Take care. And my prayer for you is a depression-free day. There is life after depression. It doesn’t seem like it at the time – but I’m here to tell you there can be brighter days ahead.
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