4 Underlying Factors in Depression
With mental health rates at an all-time high this past year, we must prioritize it now more than ever. The first step after making the decision to improve your mental health is to begin educating yourself on the underlying causes of depression. While there is no shame in using medication if needed, it’s not a “fix” or a long-term solution.
Imagine what would happen if we started to look at depression as a SYMPTOM, rather than a life-sentence? Depression is not simply a “chemical imbalance in the brain”, or something that “just happens”. There are root-cause factors and the path to healing must be a multi-pronged, individualized approach.
What Causes Depression?
Inflammation in the Brain
Chronic inflammation is a big trigger for both depression and anxiety and it starts in the gut. Inflammation that occurs over long periods of time and isn’t resolved, can significantly damage the gut lining. This chronic inflammation can become systemic, affecting how the brain functions, due to damage of the blood brain barrier is meant to protect the brain from harm. Things like toxins, infections, sugars and even non-celiac gluten sensitivity are often part of the issue, fuelling inflammation. Inflammation markers can be assessed through functional blood tests we provide at Winnipeg Nutrition.
Your Gut is Affecting Your Brain Chemistry
The gut-brain axis, meaning the connection and signalling between the gut and brain, plays a massive role in our mental health. The gut communicates with the brain via the trillions of nerves in the digestive tract, while the brain communicates with the gut via the vagus nerve, which also controls our fight-or-flight response, heart rate, hormones and more.
Problems in the gut can lead to decreased levels of serotonin and dopamine, affecting mood and sleep. Additionally, people with depression have deficiencies in key brain-boosting nutrients, such as B12 or omega-3 fatty acids, due either to poor diet or poor absorption in the gut. For more info on best foods for the brain, read How to Eat for Optimal Brain Health.
Is the Pill Affecting Your Mood?
For many women, birth control pills are what kick off their mood issues, due to synthetic hormones interfering with the natural rhythms of the body. This is a very common, medically acknowledged side effect and women are often prescribed anti-depressants to mask the new symptom of depression. In addition to dangerous side effects, BCPs do not actually fix the hormone imbalance that caused the original PMS symptoms they were hoping to relieve! Hormones are a crucial area to look at when healing depression and there is frequently underlying thyroid disfunction contributing to mental health issues.
Your Blood Sugar is Likely Imbalanced
Something as basic as having unstable blood sugar and insulin levels can be a major contributor to those experiencing low moods also. Consuming more protein and healthy fats in each meal and reducing refined carbohydrates and sugars are one of the first steps to better mental and emotional well-being. If you’re struggling to do it on your own, consider working with a Holistic Nutritionist who can guide you.
If you’ve been given the label of depression by your doctor, know that there is much that can be done to restore balance and there is hope to feel like yourself again!
Registered Holistic Nutritionist™