Things to Consider Before Reaching for Antidepressants


All right — I am married to a man I love and I dearly love my profession.  So how could a “boy she has it all” woman like me possibly get depressed?

Mine didn’t look exactly like the criteria laid out in the DSM-IV.  I mean, I am not going to sit around for two weeks feeling this way just so I can meet criteria.  But other than the two-week bit — I was depressed.  I did not want to do much of anything except cry.  I could not believe the negative thoughts creeping into my consciousness and I was having a hell of a time pushing them out.  I felt sleepy, listless, the whole nine yards.

I did not prescribe myself an antidepressant.  I do not think that anybody really believes at this point that a congenital lack of antidepressant has made anybody depressed — ever.

But a lack of food or vitamins can.  If you ask me, most of the things that we call mental illness are long term deficits of nutrients.  Nobody asked me, of course.

When it comes to mental health, a high potency multivitamin can help. Omega 3 and Omega 6 are good, too.  I’d suggest more Omega 3 and less Omega 6.  About 300mg of high grade fish oil once in the morning will do it.  High grade means enough EPA – eicosapentaenoic — and DHA — docosahexaenoic acids.  By the way, I always receive applause for pronouncing those words out loud at one of my lectures. And I deserve it, don’t I?

You might be able to get enough Omega 3 and 6 by eating fish — the best being those that live in colder water.  Salmon is great.

Selective serotonin uptake inhibitors seem to work against depression.

Giving supplements that increase serotonin production ought to help.

Potatoes can help produce serotonin.  I avoid them for other reasons — veggies in the nightshade family can produce arthritic pain and they certainly do in my knees. Someone even published a book called Potatoes not Prozac.”

Chocolate — especially the not oversweet 72 percent cocoa kind — has an antidepressant effect.  Some people can’t tolerate the taste and alternate it with the sweet kind.  It only takes a couple ounces, so don’t blame me if you go on a chocolate binge.

During my bout with depression I started craving citrus.  Vitamin C is good for many things and may have a lovely effect on mood.  Citruses may also increase levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter so important I have its molecular structure memorized.  Actually, I believe the champion for producing dopamine is none other than the California avocado.

Perhaps the most important is — water.  I walk around most of the time with a big plastic sealed jug – my husband calls it a “tankard”.  Just remember that dehydration is easy, especially for postmenopausal women like me.  And having some fat on you is no protection.  Another reminder can be dry skin in winter — even here in southern California.

Please note that these are in no way exotic “superfoods.”  They can be easily purchased in not only standard groceries, but discount ones.

So if you’re feeling depressed remember to eat once in awhile.  Your blood sugar may fluctuate enough to make you feel rotten if you don’t eat – even without an allegedly clinically diagnosable blood sugar problem.  And remember — blood sugars are more stable for people who eat more protein.  Too many sweets can make them fluctuate like crazy and make emotions go up and down.

And don’t forget your high potency multivitamin and fish oil.

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