Contributors to Depression and Anxiety

The number of teens exhibiting depression has spiked since 2011 and shows that girls are more prone than boys at this age.  Social media may very well be a part of the problem, according to the researchers.  Federal data was analyzed from 2005 to 2014 that revealed about 500,000 American teens struggle with depression with ¾’s of them being girls.  This gender trend does appear to continue throughout the older age as nearly twice as many adult women use psychiatric drugs than men.

The second most common cause of disability among Americans of both sexes is mental disorders that have risen sharply since 1980.  Mindfulness training might be helpful to combat the overstimulation and influence of social media as suggested by Steiner-Adair.

Do not overlook including your diet and sun exposure as research shows they can have a profound effect on your mental health.  Even gastrointestinal abnormalities are linked to a variety of psychological problems that includes depression, anxiety, hyperactivity and schizophrenia.  In a real sense we contain two brains and not one.  There is one in your head and one in your gut connected by your vagus nerve that runs from your brain stem to your abdomen.  This vagus nerve is the primary route your gut bacteria uses to transmit information to your brain, thus intricately connected to your gut microbiome.

Gut bacteria produces mood-boosting brain neurotransmitters.  Microorganisms in our gut secrete a large number of chemicals and among those chemicals are the same substances used by our neurons to communicate and regulate mood, like dopamine, serotonin and gamma-aminobutyric acid.

Researchers are beginning to view gut inflammation as the root of depression and one of the quickest ways to address this is by making appropriate dietary changes.  So by healing your gut, it may ease your mental troubles.  Foods that promote depression are refined sugars, dairy, gluten, and genetically engineered ingredients, non-organic industrially produced food loaded with glyphosate and artificial food additives.  Eat fermented and cultured foods, plenty of fiber, healthy fats and normalize your omega-3 to omega-6 ratio.  Avoid antibiotics, chlorinated water, antibacterial soap, agricultural chemicals and pollution.

Increasing your vegetable consumption may improve your mental wellbeing quickly.  Besides the diet, sunlight and vitamin D also affect your mental health.  A large number of light-absorbing molecules found in the different layers of your skin absorb and interact with ultraviolet rays, producing a number of complex and synergistic effects.

Research suggests that psilocybin, known as magic mushrooms, might be a game changer in the treatment for severe depression and anxiety.  About 80 to 90% of cancer patients in two studies achieved immediate and long-lasting relief from anxiety and fear of death from a single dose.

We need to remember that depression and other mental problems are mostly rooted in gut dysfunction and chronic inflammation, so if we address our diet it is a foundational step for long-term healing and mental health.  Sensible sun exposure can also play an important role along with getting adequate sleep and exercise.

Dr Fredda Branyon