Depression Improved with Diet and Lifestyle Changes

Depression Improved with Diet and Lifestyle Changes

A True Story

Today I met with a patient whose 17-year old son had been diagnosed with depression. When we’d last met, his son had been seen by a psychiatrist who determined from a short visit that he required treatment with an antidepressant. As none of the SSRI drugs ultimately worked, it was next decided to give tricyclics a try.

They were unsatisfactory as well and so atypical antipsychotics were begun.

On that regime, the son rapidly gained 45 pounds! These are very toxic drugs! And to make matters worse, he didn’t improve! And on that note, I happened to meet with my friend, the Dad.

I informed him that much data exists that depression can greatly be improved with the implementation of a healthy, plant-based diet and lifestyle changes. I recommended that his life activities be scheduled and adhered to every day.

The boy was sent to a wilderness camp for 2 months and he was weaned off the meds. He lost over 40 pounds and began to feel energy and joy again. He ate “real” food and hiked miles each day, in beautiful nature.

Back home again, he has continued to exercise daily and avoids all processed foods and sugars. He watches little television and isn’t on the computer too much. He’s doing well in school, has lost another 5 pounds, and has a fabulous relationship with his dad.

Yes … the brain needs proper care and nurturing!! Give it sunlight, proper nourishment, exercise, a loving environment with purpose … and it will thrive!! The epidemic of psychiatric illness is greatly impacted by our awful lifestyles, chemical food devoid of nutrients, sedentary existences, lack of human contact, a world of electrical devices, and poor sleep! These are modifiable factors and once things are placed in the right … the brain can recover!

This story so resonated with me that I felt the need to share it with you! This applies to children and adults with ADHD as well. Mental health isn’t an option to having a good life – it is life itself!

Certain Foods Tied to Increased Depression Risk

Certain Foods Tied to Increased Depression Risk

This article came as no surprise to me! The new and exciting field of nutritional psychiatry is so key to cognitive and mental health. Of course what we eat matters to our brain! And how we feel emotionally is clearly linked to our physical state.

Our brains need many varied nutrients to function properly and also need a healthy gut microbiome. The health and happiness of the bacterial civilization inside our colons has an immense impact on the status of our brains. They make byproducts from the foods we eat, with a great emphasis on the fermentation products of fiber from vegetables, called short chain fatty acids, which circulate and enter our brains and keep all working well and helping us to feel happy.

A diet which mostly consists of processed foods and animal products and is short on vegetables and some fruits will leave our gut microbiome hungry and our brains unhappy.

So what is the recipe for happiness? It seems clear now that a diet with lots of vegetables and fiber from whole grains, along with lots of healthy fats from plant materials, with  just a small amount of animal protein and fat, is the ticket to health and happiness!!

Read the full article here: http://bit.ly/2pnkCTI

How PCOS affects Depression and Anxiety

January is a month when many feel the effects of the holiday season coming to a sudden end. The decorations must all be put away; there is often a big mess of discarded wrappings to deal with, thank you notes calling to be written, and health resolutions to write… and often times to discard quite quickly. For many, unfortunately, January is a “down-mood” month, one with long, cold days and long, dark nights, when we are often faced with a stark reality, without the joyous festivities to hide behind!

And for those with PCOS, to add to the general “down-ness of January,” is the fact that mood disorders are increased in women with PCOS compared to women without this condition. In fact, all women with PCOS, at all times of the year, should have an initial evaluation to include assessment of mental health disorders. The prevalence of depression in women with PCOS is high and varies from 28 to 64%, and the prevalence of anxiety in women with PCOS ranges from 34-57%

In recent years, the complex relationship between PCOS and psychosocial issues has come to the forefront, with a prominent link found between specific features of PCOS and mental well-being, including the impact of infertility, hirsutism, and acne on mood. The fact that many women with PCOS experience menstrual dysfunction, hirsutism and obesity, along with cystic acne, creates a situation which can clearly result in profound psychosocial distress. In one interesting study from South Asia, they found that in comparing hirsutism and obesity, the most depression was related to the presence of hirsutism. The scientific literature now shows clearly that anxiety levels, psychological distress, depressive feelings, and social fears are all markedly higher in the population of women with PCOS.

The reasons for the increased vulnerability of depression and anxiety in women with PCOS as well as for PCOS women to develop psychiatric disorders are still unclear, but in addition to the negative mood reactions to the visible symptoms of PCOS, there are others which likely involve several pathways independent of the visible symptoms of PCOS, such as obesity, acne, and hirsutism. In one study of 300 women, nearly a third had anxiety, and quality of life was lowest in those with a combination of stress and depression.

Stress is one of the common mechanisms that induce psychological disorders. This occurs via the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and involves circadian rhythms. With significant stress, there is alteration of the HPA axis and disruption of the circadian rhythm, altering the functional relationship of the brain with the endocrine systems, resulting in adverse impacts on health. Women with PCOS have a higher level of sympathetic output from their adrenal glands. They tend to have higher outputs of cortisol and adrenaline, and to have dysfunctional melatonin, and therefore more inflammation and poorer sleep.  The higher levels of cortisol and adrenaline make those women more prone to anxiety and sleep dysfunction, adversely affecting mood.

Women with PCOS have an exaggerated response by the sympathetic nervous system, with a heightened response to negative stimuli compared with non-PCOS women. They have an abnormally increased cortisol response to physical and psychological stressors which cannot be explained by their BMI, increased percent of body fat, fasting insulin, or elevated androgen levels. Indeed, there is an independent and inherent mechanism exaggerating the stress response, in a negative way, for PCOS women. Additionally, there is evidence of an increased incidence of eating disorders and suicidal behavior among PCOS women. Sadly, they are at an increased risk of social phobia and suicide attempts.

But none of this means that women with PCOS can’t have full and wonderful lives. All this means is that it must be recognized that PCOS women have an added risk for adverse reactions to normal stressors and are more prone to anxiety and depression. Therefore, more active and proactive management is necessary. Women with PCOS need to cultivate coping mechanisms, and there are many to choose from. The maintenance of the emotional well-being of women with PCOS needs more nurturing than what is needed for the average woman. But with such support, every woman with PCOS can achieve mental, emotional, and spiritual health.

The ways to achieve emotional happiness are many, and all can be combined to satisfy each individual woman’s unique needs. Some of the effective methods are the varying forms of meditation, hypnosis, the Emotional Freedom Techniques, including tapping, Tai Chi, Chi Gong, yoga, massage, baths, acupuncture, cognitive behavioral therapy, essential oils, and my own personal favorite, guided imagery. I utilize several techniques for my own stress therapy, emphasizing baths, essential oils, and guided imagery, but all can be amazingly effective! Each woman must try out several and discover what works particularly well for her.

If you feel especially down or stressed, be sure to seek assistance and find your personal path to emotional, spiritual, and mental wellbeing. Do not delay even a minute getting help if you have any tendencies towards self-harm!! Please contact me if you are seeking PCOS medical care and do not know where to turn.

*This is a repost of a guest post Dr. Gersh orginally posted on PCOS Diva at: Depression and Anxiety in Women with PCOS http://pcosdiva.com/2015/12/depression-and-anxiety-in-women-with-pcos/