Everyone thinks they know what depression is, however, many people do not realize they are depressed. With recent research, science is changing the way we look at and recognize depression. It is becoming evident that if you are depressed, you cannot be completely healthy and if you are not completely healthy, you can not alleviate depression. Let me explain.
One of the new theories is that depression may be linked to chronic inflammation. Many of the foods we eat cause inflammation, such as genetically modified foods and vegetable oils. Depression will not alleviate until the chronic inflammation is alleviated. So, it becomes even more important to know and eliminate foods from your diet that are inflammatory such as soda pop, sugar, vegetable oil, dairy, feed lot raised meat, processed meat, alcohol, refined grains, artificial food additives, and any sensitivities you may have to foods such as gluten, milk, eggs, nuts and night shade vegetables.
Another link to depression is how you handle stress. The stress hormone, cortisol, damages neural pathways in our brains and can lead to neurological diseases and chronic depression.
Depression and anxiety have thought to have been caused by chemical imbalances in the brain. So, creating a positive chemical change in the brain that will balance the imbalance and repair the damaged neural pathways is essential in optimal health.
Research shows that positive chemical change can be created by meditation, mindfulness, yoga, tai chi, qigong, chanting, prayer, gratitude and other techniques of relaxation, as well as taking vitamins and minerals that naturally calm the nervous system. By practicing these techniques on a consistent basis, we can change the chemical makeup in our brain and our bodies.
Handling stress also goes back to the emotional mindset we were talking about earlier. We learned to handle stress by watching how others around us handled stress, how they talked about and processed stressful situations.
Some of us learned that we are victims, that others are to blame, that we have no control over what happens to us. One of the keys to optimal health is to challenge that whole paradigm. Refrain from asking the futile questions of what’s wrong, who’s to blame, how can we fix this?- these questions perpetuate anxiety and depression. Ask instead, empowering questions such as what is real, what is the truth, what is going to emerge in me from this struggle I have been going through.
A technique that combines positive chemical change and changing the way we handle stress is known as mind-body bridging, a relatively new field in psychology that holds much promise. Other new treatments in psychology include trans-cranial magnetic stimulation and positive psychology. Another method of treatment is the use of supplemental herbs and herb complexes. These treatments combined with healthy nutrition are heralding a new approach to depression. For more information on research and treatment protocols see Mood Disorders and Natural Medicine.
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