Natural Help for Depression–A Physical & Spiritual Illness


Over on HFFG’s Facebook page, we covered the topic of depression recently. It is a topic that is near and dear to my heart as many of my closest family and friends suffer from this devastating illness.

Natural Help For Depression: A Physical & Spiritual Illness by HFFG

It’s clearly something that is near and dear to God’s heart too, as His word is full of references to it. Jesus’ whole mission was to give us something that we can not have when depression takes over our lives:

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10)

Do you have life to the full?!

Because I am not even close to being an expert on this, I am going to simply list some of the links we shared on Facebook and elaborate on them. These are links and quotes from other experts. It is not a complete guide to depression, but I do hope and pray that this information will help give some direction to those seeking freedom from it!

But before we proceed, I must issue my legal disclaimer: I am not a physician, pyschiatrist, or other health professional. I am a nutrition counselor. Please consult with your medical professional before beginning, resuming, or removing any treatment.

Now that I took care of the legalities, let’s proceed.

Chemical Imbalance?

First off, I think we need to expose the myth that is far too prevalant. There is not any clear evidence to substantiate the claims that depression is a result of a chemical imbalance. Discussion of low serotonin levels and imbalances with these neurotransmitters plagues the marketing agenda of prescription drugs. As Chik Resser, LAC, says:

The idea that low levels of serotonin cause depression has become so widespread that it’s not uncommon to hear people speak of the need to “boost their serotonin levels” through exercise, herbal supplements or even sexual activity. The “chemical imbalance” theory is so well established that it is now part of the popular lexicon.

It is, after all, a neat theory. It takes a complex and heterogeneous condition (depression) and boils it down to a simple imbalance of two to three neurotransmitters (out of more than 100 that have been identified), which, as it happens, can be “corrected” by long-term drug treatment. This clear and easy-to-follow theory is the driving force behind the $12 billion worth of antidepressant drugs sold each year.

However, there is one (rather large) problem with this theory: there is absolutely no evidence to support it. Recent reviews of the research have demonstrated no link between depression, or any other mental disorder, and an imbalance of chemicals in the brain (Lacasse & Leo, 2005; (Valenstein, 1998).
http://chriskresser.com/the-chemical-imbalance-myth

(For the sake of simplicity, references contained herein to prescription drugs for mental illness include antipsychotics: Abilify, Clozaril, Fanapt, Geodon, Invega, Latuda, Risperdal, Saphris, Seroquel, Solian, Zyprexa
Anti-depressants (some also referred to as SSRI’s): Celexa, Cymbalta, Effexor, Lexapro, Paxil, Prozac, Strattera, Wellbutrin, Zoloft
Anti-anxiety medications: Ativan, Buspar, Klonopin, Xanax
Mood stabilizers for bipolar, and even stimulants like Ritalin and Concerta.)

Unfortunately, this pervasive myth has caused millions of people to depend on prescription drugs to alleviate their symptoms of depression. What’s wrong with that?

According to Dr. Mercola:

A 2005 study in the New England Journal of Medicine reported that 74 percent of schizophrenic patients in one study quit taking their medication either because of its inefficacy (it didn’t work); or because it had intolerable side effects, or other unwanted problems.

Another factor that is rarely discussed is the potent addictive potential of these drugs.

And perhaps the worst “side effect” of all is that they can cause you to acquire a more severe form of mental illness than you started with!

That’s right – as Whitaker found during his thousands of hours of research on the topic – after what might be an initial uplift in your condition, antidepressant drug users tend to spiral downward into a chronic course of long-term depression.

You can also end up becoming bipolar, or developing various types of psychoses, meaning that you’ll need to “graduate” to a new or additional medication, often an anti-psychotic drug that blocks dopamine receptors in your brain.

The cyclic effect of these drugs causing the very problems they were designed to cure is something Whitaker discusses in-depth in his book.

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/10/06/the-real-cause-of-americas-mental-illness-problem.aspx

Dr. Mercola further discusses how at least 70 percent of people on psychiatric drugs for depression will consequently suffer from chronic depression for the rest of their lives as a result of the drugs.

Additionally, literature review of studies from 2000-2007, published in Expert Opinion on Drug Safety in 2008, found that “Antipsychotics can increase cardiac risk even at low doses, whereas antidepressants do it generally at high doses or in the setting of drug combinations.”

Another study published in January 2009 in the New England Journal of Medicine also found that antipsychotic drugs doubled the risk of sudden cardiac death. Mortality was found to be dose-dependent, so those taking higher doses were at increased risk of a lethal cardiac event.

When it comes to children on these medications, we see even scarier results. Aside from most of the episodes of school violence being done by children on or withdrawing from them, we can see other instances of prescription drugs for “mental” ailments causing violence, suicide, and other horrible “side effects.”

Can Prozac Cause Kids To Kill? A Canadian Judge Has Ruled It Can

It is well documented that psychiatric drugs, particularly antidepressants, can cause a host of violent side effects including mania, psychosis, aggression, violence and in the case of the antidepressant Effexor, homicidal ideation.

A Winnipeg judge’s ruling that a teenage boy murdered his friend because of the effects of Prozac will not be appealed, confirming an apparent North American first and reviving debate around the widespread prescription of anti-depressants to young people.

Justice Robert Heinrichs concluded the 15-year-old boy was under the influence of the medication when he thrust a nine-inch kitchen knife into the chest of Seth Ottenbreit, a close friend.
http://www.cchrint.org/2011/12/07/can-prozac-cause-kids-to-kill-a-canadian-judge-has-ruled-it-can/

But the most conclusive evidence can simply be found on the medication package:

WARNING: SUICIDALITY AND ANTIDEPRESSANT DRUGS
See full prescribing information for complete boxed warning.
Increased risk of suicidal thinking and behavior in children, adolescents, and young adults taking antidepressants for Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and other psychiatric disorders

All SSRIs carry the most serious FDA warning — a black box warning — alerting doctors and patients about the increased risk of suicidal thinking in children, adolescents and young adults.

Sadly, at least 1 out of 4 foster children are given a dangerous cocktail of these drugs. After a 7-year old foster child on these drugs took his own life, regulating agencies are beginning to monitor the use of these drugs more carefully, some of which are not even approved for use with children.

Even so, this problem continues to cause more children and adults to be confined to a cycle of mental disease at the mercy of Big Pharma.

(Note: It can be dangerous to simply go off of these medications “cold turkey.” If you or your child is currently on them, please consult your health professional for advice.)

Miscarriage

As if the side effects weren’t bad enough, we have to add miscarriage to that list. Scientists at the University of Montreal reported May 31, 2010, in the Canadian Medical Association Journal:

  • Antidepressant users had a 68% higher risk of miscarriage than nonusers.
  • Those taking paroxetine alone had a 75% higher rate of miscarriage than women without depression.
  • Women taking venlafaxine had a more than doubled risk of miscarriage.

(Read more: http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1992988,00.html#ixzz29QiBsN7B )

Prescription drugs causing depression

In addition to medications for “mental” illnesses causing other problems and making depression worse, there are dozens of other prescription medications that list depression as one of the side effects. They include:

Accutane; Antabuse; Anticonvulsants; Barbiturates; Benzodiazepines (Ativan, Dalmane, Halcion, Klonopin, Librium, Valium, and Xanax); Beta-adrenergic blockers (Lopressor, Tenormin and Coreg); Bromocriptine (Parlodel); Calcium-channel blockers (Calan, Cardizem, Tiazac, and Procardia); Estrogens (Premarin and Prempro); Fluoroquinolone antibiotics (Cipro and Floxin); Interferon alfa; Opioids (codeine, morphine, Demerol, Percodan, and OxyContin); Statins (Mevacor, Zocor, Pravachol, Lescol, and Lipitor); SSRIs; Synthroid; Zovirax

(For full list and article: http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/medicines-cause-depression)

(If you haven’t read my article In Medicine We Trust, this might be a good place to pause and read it: http://healthyfamiliesforgod.com/2011/08/in-medicine-we-trust/ )

A pharmacist for 21 years, Celeste Vaughn went through a health crisis herself before realizing the dangers of many prescription drugs. She said the following:

I certainly believe that prescription drugs are needed in some cases, but when we use so many psychotropic drugs to try to fix our problems, it definitely gives Satan a foothold. God gave us an amazing brain—masterfully created—to cope with anything we come across. When we take any medication that affects our brain, we compromise the gift that God gave us. Our brain cannot work the way God intended and it gives Satan the perfect opportunity to get a stronghold.

(Visit her blog for more info and encouragement here: http://www.celestialprescriptions.com/ )

Do you really want to give Satan a foothold in your life? There is a better way.

I believe that by first addressing the spiritual and physical (not “mental”) roots, more of God’s people would be free to live out the plan He has for them. Let’s begin discussing underlying physical causes that sometimes play a role in depression.

Physical

In addition to the medications listed above that can cause depression, there are other factors with things that we put into our bodies, don’t put into our bodies, do and don’t do with our bodies.

Many studies exist that prove the link between diet and mental health. For example,

A Deakin University study just published in September 2011 found that adolescents who eat unhealthily are more likely to develop mental health problems than those with good diets.

The researchers analysed the diets and mental health of 3040 Australian teens aged between aged 11 and 18 years in 2005 and 2006 and then again two years later. They found that even after accounting for factors such as socio-economic status, smoking and weight, those with better diets tended to have better mental health after two years, while things deteriorated for those with poor diets.

“This is suggesting that for kids who aren’t getting enough nutrient-rich food, it’s predisposing them to to mental health problems.”

The study also found that for teens suffering mental health problems, changing to a healthier diet improved their state of mind.
http://theconversation.edu.au/poor-diet-linked-to-teen-mental-health-problems-3518

This is just one of many such studies. So how exactly does food affect our mental health? Let’s look at certain foods and the effects they have on other parts of the body, as well as how it all fits together:

Sugar

“Sugar consumption may directly impact the prevalence of major depression.”
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?Db=pubmed&Cmd=Retrieve&list_uids=12415536&dopt=abstractplus

There are two potential mechanisms through which refined sugar intake could exert a toxic effect on mental health.

First, sugar actually suppresses activity of a key growth hormone in the brain called BDNF. This hormone promotes the health and maintenance of neurons in the brain, and it plays a vital role in memory function by triggering the growth of new connections between neurons. BDNF levels are critically low in both depression and schizophrenia, which explains why both syndromes often lead to shrinkage of key brain regions over time (yes, chronic depression actually leads to brain damage). There’s also evidence from animal models that low BDNF can trigger depression.

Second, sugar consumption triggers a cascade of chemical reactions in the body that promote chronic inflammation. Now, under certain circumstances (like when your body needs to heal a bug bite), a little inflammation can be a good thing, since it can increase immune activity and blood flow to a wound. But in the long term, inflammation is a big problem. It disrupts the normal functioning of the immune system, and wreaks havoc on the brain.

Inflammation is associated with an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and even some forms of cancer . . . it’s also linked to a greater risk of depression and schizophrenia. And again, eating refined sugar triggers inflammation. So does eating heavily processed molecular cousins like ‘high fructose corn syrup’.
http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-depression-cure/200907/dietary-sugar-and-mental-illness-surprising-link

Nora Gedgaudas, author of Primal Body Primal Mind and a speaker at the Wise Traditions 2010 Conference, maintains that blood sugar issues are the #1 influencing factor in mental health with depression being one of the most prominent.
http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/depression-your-brain-on-sugar/

The link between sugar consumption, along with caffeine, and neuropsychiatric illness has been known since at least 1966 when the Journal of the National Medical Association published a study with the following findings:

“…the condition of relative hypoglycemia is one of the most common causes of neuropsychiatric illness, and I should like to propose that it has been caused by changes in human dietary habits.”

“Symptoms of relative hypoglycemia will be those of depression, insomnia, anxiety, irritability, poor concentration, crying spells, and phobias.”

The study recommended that each patient presenting with symptoms of neuropsychiatric illness be given a six-hour glucose test to determine if the patient is really suffering from relative hypoglycemia, a condition most often caused by high intake of sugar and/or caffeine, but most especially sugary caffeinated drinks such as soda and gourmet coffee. The study specifically recommended the following:

1. Relative hypoglycemia is considered as an important cause of neuropsychiatric illness.

2. Every patient with neuropsychiatric illness should have a six-hour glucose tolerance test.

3. The six-hour glucose tolerance test should be interpreted as positive if there is a blood sugar drop of 20 mgm% or more below the fasting level, or if the drop is from 10 to 20 mgm% below the fasting blood sugar level.

4. A corrective diet high in protein, low in carbohydrate, and free of caffeine will affect recovery in approximately 85 percent of the patients.

5. By making the diagnosis of relative hypoglycemia and teaching patients what they should eat, they will be spared years of suffering, electroshock therapy, and the hazards inherent in taking sedatives, stimulants, and tranquilizers.

The study proved that a traditional diet of unprocessed foods will have a dramatic effect on 85 percent of neuropsychiatric patients:

“If the human animal will follow a diet that resembles that of a primitive man, who ate the meat of small animals, fish, and fowl, who robbed nests of eggs, ate root and leaf vegetables, nuts, fruits, and berries, the body will function at maximum physiologic efficiency; whereas a high carbohydrate diet with drinks containing caffeine invariably elevates the blood sugar level…”

(Full study can be downloaded here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2611193/ )

Diet sodas aren’t out of the woods either! Updated research has discovered that diet soda has a huge impact in increasing a person’s risk of depression. According to the research, which will be officially released at the American Academy of Neurology’s annual meeting in mid-March, people who drink four cans or more of soda daily are about 30 percent more likely to be diagnosed with depression than people who don’t drink soda.

The link also included those who drink fruit punch and iced teas, which contain about as much sweetener as sodas. Interestingly, diet sodas, fruit punches and iced teas showed a stronger link to depression than the non-diet drinks.

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/diet-soda-drinkers-depressed-article-1.1236431#ixzz2HhVZMZo8

We can do our children a world of good if we avoid giving these things to them as well!

**It’s interesting to note that both sugar and caffeine deplete our body of essential nutrients, namely minerals such as magnesium, calcium, and potassium, which is why many people find relief in anxiety symptoms with taking magnesium. Eliminating the things that deplete our body of it will go a lot farther in helping our health than simply adding supplements without dietary changes.**

Gut Health

Additionally, sugar feeds bad bacteria in the gut. And an imbalanced gut is also named as a contributing factor to depression.

Dr. Mercola further describes the link between gut inflammation and depression:

Research has demonstrated that depression is frequently associated with gastrointestinal inflammations and autoimmune diseases as well as with other ailments in which chronic low-grade inflammation is a significant contributing factor.

It is possible that depression could be a neuropsychiatric manifestation of a chronic inflammatory syndrome. And the primary cause of inflammation may be the dysfunction of the “gut-brain axis”.

The notion that inflammation in your gut could be linked to your symptoms of depression may sound far-fetched, but it actually makes perfect sense when you understand the intricate connection between your brain and your digestive tract.

Perhaps the simplest example to use is getting butterflies in your stomach when you’re nervous, thus your thoughts, i.e. brain, are manifesting symptoms in your gut. But another route of connection is via low-grade inflammation, which is a significant contributing factor to numerous diseases that often occur alongside depression, and may, in fact, be manifesting your depressive symptoms.

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/10/06/can-inflammation-in-this-organ-be-at-the-root-of-your-depression.aspx?np=true

Since antibiotics destroy good gut bacteria and cause gut inflammation and proliferation of pathogenic bacteria, the use of them carries a strong tie to depression. And because half or more of all mothers are given antibiotics during labor, I daresay that we can see one of the reasons many new moms face this problem.
http://jjvirgin.com/1764/fat-sick-and-depressed-the-dark-side-of-antibiotics/

Unfortunately, many people in America have such compromised gut health that their gut is unable to ward off extremely harmful bacteria and may need medical treatment. As Dr.’s Hyman & Liponis share:

“Having had a history of depression, Hannah had tried the usual list of anti-depressants, but each just seemed to work for only a few weeks before becoming ineffective.

When we talked with her, however, she also mentioned that she was experiencing severe digestive problems, including bloating and gas. Acting on this clue, we took a urine test, which showed an elevated level of DHPPA, a derivative of a common amino acid found in food. The bacteria in the gut alters the amino acid phenylalanine, and turns it into a chemical called DHPPA. This DHPPA was now effecting Hannah’s brain chemistry by interfering with her neurotransmitters; this, in turn, was creating her depression.

For treatment, we prescribed Flagyl, an antibiotic that kills these bacteria (we also made sure she took probiotics so that the drugs didn’t deplete all the health-promoting bacteria in Hannah’s system).

Two weeks later, Hannah called to say that she felt as though she’d been living in the dark for years, and now she could finally see the light again. We recommended that Hannah continue to follow up with her psychiatrist, but we also put her on a maintenance program to promote a normal intestinal ecology.

In a nice turn of events, Mark Hyman recently taught a continuing-education course for doctors on our new paradigm of medicine; in the audience was a woman who asked question after question. Finally he asked her why she was so curious. It turned out that she had been Hannah’s psychiatrist for ten years and had had such little success with her that she was dying to know what had alleviated Hannah’s depression.”
Dr’s Hyman & Liponis, Ultra-Prevention

Essential Fatty Acids

Another problem for women that is believed to cause/contribute to depression is diets with improper rations of Omega 6′s and Omega 3′s. Vegetable oils fit this bill and cause an omega 3 fatty acid deficiency. Foods like olive oil, coconut oil, fish/fish oil, avocadoes, and butter provide mother’s and baby’s brains with what I call “brain fats.” When a woman’s diet instead contain vegetable oils/trans fats, the growing baby’s brain must take these fats from mother’s brain, leaving mother deficient. This can lead to depression, brain fog, and other symptoms commonly associated with postpartum women.

Studies show that women with low DHA levels are 6 times more likely to suffer from postpartum depression. The simple cure for this is to take cod liver oil during pregnancy, eliminate vegetable oils, and replace them with some of the good oils and fats listed above.
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0165178107004398

Pellagra

Vitamin B3 or niacin deficiency is the cause of pellegra. It is caused by a large consumption of corn grains, especially those that are not properly treated to remove the niacin-blocking component. Native Americans knew that in order for it not to cause pellagra, the corn must be treated with lime. The condition is characterized by the 4 D’s–Diarrhea, Dermatitis, Dementia, and Death. Other symptoms of pellagra include:

–Fears/Anxiety
–Fatigue
–Pale skin
–Confusion
–Rage
–Hostility
–Rough skin

In fact, this is where the character for Bram Stoker’s Dracula came from–at a time when pellagra was rampant. On September 5, 1909, the New York Times ran a lengthy article entitled, “If You Fear Pellagra Beware of Corn: Growth of Strange Disease That is Rapidly Becoming a National Menace.” Approximately 100,000 Americans, many from rural areas in the southeastern United States, succumbed to the leprosy-like syndrome in the early part of the 20th century. The article stated, “The insane asylums are being found to be full of pellagra, heretofore regarded as merely insanity.”

Think of all the corn consumed in America today–high-fructose corn syrup (which is in a large majority of foods, corn oil, corn starch, corn chips, corn cereals, etc. In Minnesota, I can drive almost anywhere in the state for 10 minutes and see at least 50 acres of corn. Most farmers have converted their fields to (GMO) corn and soy. There’s no question that there is an unnaturally high amount of corn being consumed by Americans, either directly in our food or by the animals raised for meat.

Thyroiditis

Depression, especially postpartum, can also be attributed to improper thyroid function. Postpartum thyroiditis causes depression symptoms, as well as decreased breastmilk production, hair loss, and other symptoms, when the pregnancy has taxed the woman’s thyroid too much. The mineral selenium has been proven to be extremely helpful in preventing postpartum thyroiditis. The best way to get selenium is to eat one Brazil nut per day. One Brazil nut contains all the amount of selenium you need each day!

This can also be the case for many people, especially woman, apart from pregnancy. Problems with the thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland in the neck, are becoming increasingly common. The possible causes of thyroid problems are lengthy, but they include soy consumption (soybean oil is in everything nowadays!), refined sugars and grains, etc. Since this would call for a whole new lengthy post, I would like to simply state that it is definitely a factor to consider in some cases of depression. (If you’d like further help with thyroid problems, please email me at sjpoff@healthyfamiliesforgod.com and/or check out my personal nutrition counseling: http://healthyfamiliesforgod.com/nutrition-counseling-wellness-education/ )

Exercise

“One researcher conducted an experiment with laboratory rats. He shocked them with electrodes, shone bright lights, and played loud noises to them around the clock. At the end of one month, all the rats were dead from stress. He then took another group of rats and made them exercise on a treadmill. After they were well exercised, he subjected them to a month of the same shocks, noises, and lights. These rats didn’t die–they ran around well and healthy.

Exercise literally burns off those stress chemicals.”

Dr. Don Colbert, The Seven Pillars of Health

In 1999, Duke University researchers demonstrated in a randomized controlled trial that depressed adults who participated in an aerobic-exercise plan improved as much as those treated with sertraline, the drug that, marketed as Zoloft, was earning Pfizer more than $3 billion annually before its patent expired in 2006.

And the best part–exercise is free!
http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1998021,00.html

Food Allergies

In this article (http://drhyman.com/why-antidepressants-dont-work-for-treating-depression-497/), Dr. Mark Hyman cites food allergies as a common cause of depression. How? Food allergies create inflammation all over the body, including the brain. Brain inflammation is commonly seen in depressed patients.

With the introduction of genetically-modified foods into our food supply, and the use of antibiotics, vaccines, and other things that cause our body to respond incorrectly to food, food allergies are on the rise at unprecedented rates. If you or someone you know struggles with depression, consider getting checked for food allergies.

Spiritual

For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.
Proverbs 23:7

The ability to control and lack of trusting God is very common in depression. From Bob Phillips’s book, Overcoming Anxiety and Depression: Practical Tools to Help You Deal with Negative Emotions, 2007, he explains:

Both anxiety and depression stem from attempts to control either the future (through worrying) or the past (by trying to change what has already happened). Acknowledge that only God has the power to control the future and bring transformation out of what happened in the past.

Phillips further explains:

Let go of what you can’t change, and change what you can. Recognize the difference between what you can’t change (facts of life in our fallen world) and what you can (problems you can solve). Stop trying to change what’s beyond your control; instead, pray about it all and trust it to God. But do whatever you can to solve problems in your life. If you’re worried about a lack of money to pay your bills, cut back on unnecessary purchases and work harder to bring in extra income. If you’re anxious about the quality of your relationship with someone, work to become more loving and giving, and devote more time and energy to that relationship. Direct your energy away from anxiety and depression and toward solutions to your problems. Don’t just think about it or talk about it; actually take action toward solutions and enjoy seeing the progress you make.

Know that once you take responsibility for your own attitudes and actions, you’ll start to grow in maturity, which will lead to healing.

Crosswalk.com has summarized his book further on their website. I highly recommend this article (or the book) for anyone suffering from depression or with a loved one suffering from it:
http://www.crosswalk.com/faith/women/overcome-anxiety-and-depression-11563116.html

Other common traits of depression include:

Blaming yourself for everything
Staying away from/avoiding groups and social settings, especially church
Self-pity
Ungratefulness

“Recognize that God created you in His image and therefore you are good. He wants you to be happy. He gave His only begotten Son so that you might have eternal life (John 3:16). Abraham Lincoln once said, “Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

Believe that God is faithful to do what He has promised for you. Look for His abundant life. God has promised to meet our every-need (Phil. 4:19; Eph. 3:20; Matt. 7:11). It is not ours to worry about food, clothing and shelter. God has promised that if we seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, He will add these material things to us (Matthew 6:25-33). Let His spirit dwell in your richly, causing you to have a song in your heart, an attitude of thanksgiving and a submissive spirit (Eph. 5:19-21). No misery or depression can exist in such a heart. Practice thanksgiving and praising the Lord for all things. To praise the Lord when things are going against your will is to show a submissive spirit. Be thankful in everything (I Thess. 5:18). ,

Think on positive things, things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely and of good report (Phil 4:8). Realize that all things do work together for good to them that love the Lord (Romans 8:28). Do not dwell on past unhappy experiences, bad news in the world today, or ways in which life seems to have cheated you. Think about all the ways life has been a blessing to you.

Have a forgiving spirit. Bad feelings or unforgiven hurts toward your fellow beings can cause you to feel very depressed. Telling others you are sorry you have wronged them or that you have forgiven them for something they have done to you in the past can often be the most therapeutic means of bringing about a peaceful heart.” (And don’t forget to forgive yourself too!)

And “Try giving yourself away. Luke 6:38 tells us how richly we will be rewarded if we give of ourselves. One of the best rewards will be freedom from depression. Gal. 6:2 tells us to help bear one another’s burdens. Finding some hard physical work to do, for ourselves or for others, is often the very best medicine needed for depression. Plan with God’s help and prayer not to be depressed. Live one day at a time instead of taking on your whole future life at once. Let God’s spirit rule your life. Ask your Christian friends to pray with you and for you about your depression. Hebrews 13:5,6 say, “Let your life be free from the love of money, and be content with what you have; for he has said, ‘I will never fail or forsake you”‘. Hence we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid; what can man do to me?” Remembering this verse, we can “Rejoice in the Lord always,” as Paul suggests in Phil. 4:4.”
http://www.bible.ca/f-Depression.htm

Even government studies attest to the benefits of faith-based intervention for depression. In a study analyzing patients diagnosed with depression that attended a Christian conference, patients showed a significant improvement in their symptoms compared to those who did not attend the conference.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18360345

Chronic stress also has commonly been associated with depression.

“When someone has chronic stress and depression, his or her adrenal glands (the stress glands) start overproducing the hormone cortical.

Cortisol is one of our stress hormones. Under conditions of acute stress, cortisal can help the body to respond in a protective way. However, high cortisal for long periods of time are dangerous, leading to such problems as thinning of the bones, osteoporosis, diabetes, cataracts, high blood pressure, insulin resistance, weakening of the cardiovascular system and the immune system, and damage to the gastrointestinal tract.

What’s important here is that cortisal has also been shown to damage the brain. This type of brain damage can occur from chronically elevated levels of cortisal–chronic stress and depression, therefore, can be treatable causes of dementia.”
Dr’s Hyman & Liponis, Ultraprevention

In his book The Seven Pillars of Health, Dr. Don Colbert says:

It’s interesting that the Bible says you enter His gates with thanksgiving, because an “attitude of gratitude” helps you take the focus off your situation and shifts it to the One who can work everything out for you.

Thankfulness and mindfulness will go a long way toward erasing the stress in your life.

Get Out of Depression By Learning To Be Optimistic
In the book, “Learned Optimism,” Dr. Martin Seligman writes about how they experimented with a dog. They gave the dog shock treatments and gave the dog a way to end the shock by pressing a button or something. The dog didn’t become depressed because the dog had a way to control his environment.

When they stopped the button from working, the dog felt no control over his life… and he became depressed. After the dog had decided he could not longer control his what was happening to him, he became depressed.

Even when they fixed the button so that it would work again, the dog no longer even tried to change what was going on. It had given up. It had decided it could not control anything.

Dr. Seligman contends that many people have simply given up as a result of feeling they were unable to control anything. They feel powerless to change and thus do not even try. He details steps for learning optimism and regaining the desire to change.
http://achristian.wordpress.com/2008/01/24/getting-out-of-depression-learned-helplessness-by-learning-to-be-optimistic/

**This is where I would like to stop and make a big note of something many of God’s children miss, including myself for a while:

Sometimes, God does not take us away from difficulties, trials, and illness right away FOR A REASON. This kind of season of our lives is often allowed by God to help us grow in our faith, in our relationship with Him, and our dependence on Him. Too often, we turn to drugs to try and get out of this right away, and we miss the things God wants us to learn from it.

For instance, one of the hardest times of my life made me realize that I had NO control whatsoever on the outcome. None. I couldn’t even manipulate the circumstances a TINY bit to make things work out. I had no choice but to put it completely in God’s hands. Completely. I cried day after day, to the point where I had a rash on my cheeks from crying so much. I struggled each day just to take care of my five children and wondered if the sixth child that I was pregnant with would be okay.

But each and every single day, I learned what it meant to truly have faith. To truly trust God to be at work. To depend on His strength for my daily activities and to rest in His presence. For years as a Christian, I had boasted these qualities, but realized through that trial that I never really did have them until this trial in life. And now that that trial is past, I would not trade it for anything. It has given me the strength, wisdom, faith, and trust in God that I thought I had all along but didn’t really have it! Most of the time (if not all of the time), these things take time (and difficulties) to develop! Those quick-fixes too often prevent us from experiencing God’s love and daily help in our lives and prevent us from becoming the person God made us to be!

How about taking a daily dose of God’s word as your medicine? The following is just a snippet of the “medicine” we can find in God’s word on this topic. Meditate on them, memorize them, and think of them whenever negative, sad, controlling, and anxious thoughts begin to creep in your mind:

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD,
whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.”
Jeremiah 17:7-8 (NIV)

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”
Isaiah 26:3

‘Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’
Isaiah 41:10 (NASB)

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
1 Peter 5:6-7 (NIV)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Philippians 4:6-8 (NIV)

For further encouragement to get more of God’s word in your daily diet, check out my post “The Bread We All Need”
http://healthyfamiliesforgod.com/2011/09/the-bread-we-all-need/

Some other good articles encouraging more time in God’s word are:

Is Your Bible Dusty?
http://likeabubblingbrook.com/2011/12/is-your-bible-dusty/

5 tips to begin the New Year with daily Bible reading
http://likeabubblingbrook.com/2011/12/commit-to-daily-bible-reading-5-tips-to-begin-the-new-year/

I have one final thing to share–a testimony from an HFFG sister. Maybe it’ll ring true with some of my readers:

I have struggled with the diagnosis of severe major depression/social anxiety/panic disorder/mitral valve prolapse, and finally, agoraphobia, since 1993. Medication helped some, but life was still only barely tolerable. For about the last two years, I was taking FIVE different medications! Each time a symptom arose, the Drs. prescribed yet another pill-but there was no cure in sight, no real explanation as to why I was experiencing this “chemical unbalance”. This past summer, I got fed up!!! I didn’t want to just FEEL better, I wanted to BE better!!! I WANTED TO HEAL!!! Through research into natural cures for depression, I came across the book “THE MOOD CURE”. Nutrient deficiencies- that’s what all this has been about! Most conventional Drs. seem to have absolutely no clue to how deep nutrition, which includes truly healthy fats, proteins, vegetables, and fruits. Vitamins and some supplements are used to help restore nutrition levels. Some natural amino acids are suggested. You will be amazed at the results!!! I can not say it enough—GET THIS BOOK!!! It will help you ENORMOUSLY!!! “THE MOOD CURE” by Julia Ross.
S. Brandon

Do you have a story to share? Or something you’d like to add? Tips, advice, etc.? Like I said, this is not a complete guide to this complicated illness. Please share your comments!

If you’d like help changing to whole foods including probiotics and healthy “brain fats”, as well as daily encouragement, or a health evaluation of your health history, dietary habits, and other information to try and assess which of these, if any, may be causing your health problems and a plan to change it, please email me or check out my Nutrition Counseling page.

Also, check out my guest post on Birth Without Fear’s website: PPD, PTSD and Antenatal Depression: Nutrition and Research…What Helps?

Finally, I would like to conclude with a quote from Randy Alcorn’s book, Heaven:

If you’re depressed, you may imagine your life has no purpose–but you couldn’t be more wrong.

As long as God keeps you here on Earth, it’s exactly where he wants you. He’s preparing you for another world. He knows precisely what he’s doing. Through your suffering, difficulty, and depression, he’s expanding your capacity for eternal joy. Our lives on Earth are a training camp to ready us for Heaven.

I know depression can be debilitating. But if you are considering taking your own life, recognize this as the devil’s temptation. Jesus said that Satan is a liar and a murderer (John 8:44). He tells lies because he wants to destroy you (1 Peter 5:8). Don’t listen to the liar. Listen to Jesus, the truth teller (John 8:32, 14:6). Don’t make a terrible ending to your life’s story–finish your God-given course on Earth. When he’s done–not before–he’ll take you home in his own time and way. Meanwhile, God has a purpose for you here on Earth. Don’t desert your post.

Blessings of good health,
~Sara

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