It happens to the best of us; life throws you one too many curve balls and after a while it’s the blues you just can’t shake. Depression, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of Americans (ADAA) , affects about 18 % of Americans nationwide and pregnancy depression is just as prevalent. As many as 14-23% of pregnant women experience pregnancy depression making this amazing, life-changing time filled with sadness and anxiety.
While depression is a serious condition that can be treated medically, there might be another way to help too. Depression is a multi-faceted health issue involving the way it affects you (feeling sad, loss of interest in previous hobbies, physically achy or in pain, insomniac) why it affects you (genetics or situational style depression like after having a baby) and how it affects you (serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine poorly transmitted). Medically you can treat depression with drugs to help stimulate the different neurotransmitters (serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine) and this can be a very effective way to eliminate depression from your life.
New research is finding you can treat depression holistically-with foods that fight oxidative stress. In the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research a research article Oxidative Stress and Major Depression was studying oxidative stress; when the body has a build-up of toxins within the cells, causing the cells to breakdown and produce wrinkles (for example) or trauma to the body, and found oxidative stress significantly high in people with major depression.
During this research period adult men and women suffering from depression were tested for signs of stress on the body, in the form of malondialdehyde (MDA) and nitric oxide (NO) and signs of the body fighting stress naturally with superoxide dismutase (SOD), ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and ceruloplasmin, which are markers of a healthy antioxidant defense system. Noted in this study was “Long term depression in a person is linked to increased inflammation, autoimmune tissue damage and physicological stress” meaning we realize that depression doesn’t just affect the mind, but the whole body in a literal sense; with pain and poor recovery from infections or disease.
It was found that these depressed research patients lacked normal levels of vitamin C and superoxide dismutase (SOD), antioxidants that fight damage done to the body. These research patients also had the highest levels of malondialdehyde (MDA) and nitric oxide (NO) which cause serious damage to the body’s organs by disassembling nutrients like fatty acids and protein making these nutrients worthless or causing inflammation. The Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research reminded us just how sensitive the brain is too; relying on high levels of nutrients to stay vital and how easy it is to create damage to the brain, and induce or continue depression with oxidative stress.
If low levels of antioxidants are found in people suffering from depression than it makes sense to bombard the body with antioxidants like vitamin C, D, A and watch the body respond positively to these super nutrients. Antioxidants can improve your immune system, clear out toxins like ethanol (alcohol) and even shield your cells from attacks from free radicals.
If antioxidants are so good for us than why aren’t we eating more of them?
Antioxidants are found in fruits and vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids (found in salmon for example). Your body can take these antioxidants and use them quickly or store them for a period of time and keep the well-being of your cells intact. There isn’t one food that can “cure” depression, but a combination of healthy foods can certainly help the body fight off damage done by depression and created from living with long-term depression.
Eating healthy foods daily can only benefit you. Whether helping the body fight a current disease, like depression, or keeping your body from getting sick, antioxidants can be lifesavers. Consider adding berries, dark leafy greens and whole, unprocessed grains to your daily meal plan and reap the benefits of antioxidants.
Oxidative Stress and Major Depression. J Clin Diagn Res. 2014 Dec; 8. Ashutosh Bajpai,corresponding author1 Akhilesh Kumar Verma,2 Mona Srivastava,3 and Ragini Srivastava4