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Eat right, kill the depression bug

If depression persists and impairs daily life, one has to act on it, writes Dr Anjali Mukherjee.

india Updated: Oct 31, 2006 12:46 IST

We all experience ‘the blues’ once in a while when we find ourselves in a state of sadness and despair. Though some depression is normal and a part of every person’s life, if it persists and impairs daily life, you have to act on it.

Whether severe or mild, prolonged depression is likely to adversely affect every aspect your life — your self-esteem, relationships, performance at work and even your immunity.

Clinical or severe depression: This type usually has its roots in chemical imbalances in the brain, thyroid disorders or unresolved traumatic events of your past.

Clinical depression, which could last weeks, months or possibly, years, permeates the entire body — victims typically turn reclusive, are unable to perform daily activities and experience prolonged melancholy and suicidal tendencies.

Mild depression: This usually brings about digestive disorders such as gas, diarrhoea, constipation and acidity, backaches, fatigue, headaches, sleep disturbances, irritability and loss or increased appetite.

Mild depression has a shorter duration and is usually triggered by nutrient-deficient diets, excessive in take of junk food, low blood sugar, any form of stress, lack of exercise or hereditary factors.

To avoid or reduce depression: While clinical depression needs medical attention, having a nutritionally sound diet could make a huge difference to the way you think and feel.

Whenever you are under stress and feel the need to relax, up your intake of complex carbohydrates such as brown rice, potatoes, whole pulses, idlis and vegetables such as arbi, yam and sweet potato.

Avoid wheat and wheat products as the gluten present in wheat could induce depression.

Avoid fried foods — these take longer to digest, sap you of mental energy and facilitate depression.

Avoid alcohol — it precipitates hypoglycemia, which will only aggravate your condition.

Avoid sugar — it may uplift your mood briefly but will later bring about fatigue and depression.

Listening to peppy music and exercising are vital depression busters. Exercising helps your body produce more of the happiness inducing endorphins, which are likely to enhance your mood and make you feel better.

Ensure you get your daily dose of vitamins and minerals. Depressed individuals are often found to be deficient in folic acid, zinc, Thiamine (B1) and Riboflavin (B2). Vitamin B6 and minerals such as magnesium and calcium are particularly beneficial for treating depression and stress.

Likewise, chromium helps in normalising blood sugar and in preventing hypoglycemia and bouts of depression. Depression also lowers your immunity.

A high dosage of vitamin C (500-1000mg) could help you protect your immune system. A high potency multivitamin and multimineral supplement can meet the above mentioned requirement of vitamins and minerals but the high doses of vitamin C, calcium and magnesium need to be taken separately.

Get enough light and sunshine — this is essential for the production of the hormone melatonin which helps prevent depression. Above all regular rest, remaining occupied and thinking positive can help you fight depression.

An optimistic attitude makes people happier and in turn healthier.