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Lifestyle Notes: Depression

by Dr. Diane Gioia-Bargonetti

We all get depressed now and then. Depression is nothing to be embarrassed about or ashamed of, but it is something you want to address immediately and learn to control. It is nice to know there are solutions.

My first suggestion may seem unconventional, but I have found it definitely helps you psychologically: clean your home! The confusion and disarray of your apartment or home can transfer to the inner workings of your life. So, clean it up and watch your energy begin to flow again. You will start attracting a positive flow – a positive rhythm of life.

Another behavorial solution is to avoid those who engage in negative behavior, like excessive drinking, drug taking, smoking (if you are trying to quit) and overeating (if you are trying to lose weight). If you keeping choosing to be around negative behavior it will only draw you deeper into a negative space – and feed depression. Even simple things like gossiping or cursing can add to negative feelings and depression.

Vitamins can help ease depression, too. Make sure your multivitamin contains all the B complex vitamins: B1 thiamin, B2 riboflavin, B3 niacin and niacinamide, B6 pyridoxine, B12 cobalamin, folic acid, pantothenic acid, biotin, choline, inositol and PABA. The B vitamins give us energy and are necessary for metabolism of carbs, fats and proteins. They are essential for maintaining healthy nerves. In my practice, I find the stress of being a musician and the added stress of living and working in New York calls for more B vitamins than usual. Therefore, I add a tri-B formula to the multi for extra B6, B12 and folate – the protective vitamins. Studies have already linked folate deficiency to heart disease and depression. You can purchase this supplementary tri-B formula at any vitamin shop.

You might also want to consider homeopathic (herbal) remedies for emotional stress, which can be purchased at any health food store. Here are a few to consider:

· Ignatia Amara (30c) brings marvelous relief when grief or a broken heart causes emotional pain. People who can benefit from Ignatia (who I call “Ignatia patients”) are usually extremely sensitive, cry uncontrollably, don’t want to be consoled and, in fact, shun help from others.

· Aconite or Aconitum Napellus (30c), the monkshood herb, has already been recommended for smokers’ cough and cold and flu symptoms. Aconite can also be used for acute states of anxiety and panic following a terrible shock, such as not getting the gig, being the victim of a crime, or suffering through a car accident or natural disaster. These monkshood herbs can treat terror or mere restlessness. Monkshood patients tend to fear death, large crowds, audiences or even going outside.

· Nux Vomica (30c), our hangover remedy, is also used for acute emotional pain stemming from working too hard, being under too much pressure or from frustrated ambitions. Nux patients are impatient people. They might be irascible or even violent, breaking things when they are crossed. Noise bothers them as may light or other sensations. Typically, those needing Nux Vomica are driven and competitive. Other symptoms that indicate the need to Nux include PMS, acid stomach and indigestion.

(These remedies are for acute bouts with depression – not chronic despondency. You need to seek professional help if the remedies mentioned here don’t solve your problem within two to three days of treatment.)

Many of us naturopaths feel food allergies trigger depression. So our basic suggestion is to eat a diet with plenty of raw fruits and vegetables, soy products, brown rice, millet and legumes. A diet too low in complex carbs can cause serotonin depletion and thus depression.

Also, eat foods containing EFA’s (essential fatty acids). This will increase your alertness and lift your spirits. So order up some salmon, tuna, mackerel and shrimp. Omit wheat products from your diet as wheat gluten has been linked to depressive disorders. As always, my suggestion is never to eat meat or fried foods; these are pure poison from the naturopath’s perspective!

Here’s something you may have already figured out: don’t eat foods that contain aspartame (NutraSweet or Equal). Aspartame contains phenylalanine and thus the compound phenol which is highly allergenic. So avoid this ingredient found in diet sodas, diet foods and artificial sweeteners. You also need to watch sugar consumption in general, alcohol consumption and processed foods.

Considering it is winter, your depression might be seasonal. Light therapy may help. Personally, I have replaced all my light bulbs with full spectrum ones from the health food store. Exposure to the sun and full spectrum light appears to regulate the body’s production of melatonin, a hormone produced by the pineal gland, that is, in part, responsible for preventing the winter blues.

I wish you all health, happiness and many great gigs in the coming New Year! Until next time, resolve to make good health a priority !

Dr. Diane Gioia-Bargonette is a Naturopath at the A.R.E. Association for Research and Enlightenment, 241 West 30th Street, New York, NY. drdibargo@earthlink.net

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