There is a lot of information to digest on this topic, so I'm going to do my best to condense it into a bite size manageable article lol
Okay first lets Identify what depression is, a disease classified by a set of symptoms:
Deep Feelings of sadness
Feelings of worthlessness
Lack of Energy
Inability to concentrate
Difficulty getting through activities
Lack of interest in things previously enjoyed
Withdrawing from friends
Preoccupation with death
Medical causation: HPA Axis Disregulation
So what causes and how do we address HPA Axis Disregulation?
The 4 Pillars of Human health. In their own way each of these things play a role in HPA axis function. I would like to identify ways in which each can help alleviate symptoms.
We know that stress management plays a critical role in human health, and this is no exception for people suffering from depression. A recent study in NZ found 60% of people attributed symptoms of their depression stemming from stress in their life.
How do we address it?
I'll attach a quick handout at the bottom.
A good deal of progress has been made in the field of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, with a little over 50% of patients reporting a better management of symptoms.
Meditation, Yoga, Tai Chi, Mindfulness etc. It appears that the practice itself isn't as important as following a regular practice with the intent of managing stress.
Lastly, but of very serious contention is the use of Psilocybin Mushrooms. Many people around the world have reported incredible results from micro/macro dosing of mushrooms. Alleviation of symptoms entirely, and being able to come off their use of SSRI's/antidepressants
This aligns with the current research on Mushrooms for the treatment of PTSD. It appears mushrooms have an incredible ability to reset neural pathways, increase activation of the amgygdala. Quite the opposite of typical antidepressants.
I'll post more about how to dose, and more information regarding the use of Psilocybin later.
I will always push a whole foods based diet, avoiding gluten/refined sugar/seed oils. But for the specific issue of Depression lets focus on what foods help restore the HPA axis function.
Short Chain Fatty acids (Potatoes, Fruits, Veggies)
B12 (Grass fed meat)
Vitamin D (Fresh water fatty fish)
Bacteria Live active cultures. (Fermented foods, Yogurt)
These foods seem to be the most prominent in affecting the symptoms of depression via HPA axis regulation.
Depression affects sleeping patterns. It can cause insomnia or be noticed by excessive sleeping habits. We also see the people that suffer from sleep apnea and insomnia at very high risk for Depression. This may lead to a which came first the chicken or the egg question.
Regardless I've attached a pdf on helpful sleep habits at the bottom. If none of these work for you I would highly recommend seeing a sleep specialist.
We know that not only Exercise, but physical movement is essential for our health. There are a handful of studies that show exercise to be more effective than antidepressants to stimulate serotonin production. I don't believe any of these solutions to be golden tickets on their own. Anecdotally I can say in my own experiences, in the worst of times exercise got me through. To me it was a breaking up of negative energy, just to get my body moving. I remember running being a go to because I could do it at any time. A few nights I recall running at like 2-3am when I was too depressed to sleep, trying to wear myself out lol One those runs my mindset would switch, and it would help me reframe my situation.
Scientifically one of the most important things we see exercise do is stimulating neruogenisis. The hippocampus is one of the first things that shut down when we experience HPA axis disregulation. It controls the formation of new memories and is also associated with learning, emotions, and our sense of purpose. The stimulation of neurogenisis in this area of the brain allows it to rebuild. Thus, I would argue exercise is a very important piece of this puzzle.