Depression can be defined as a mental state characterised by low moods, and affects one in five people at some point in their lives. This state typically persists and tends to interfere with everyday life and normal social functioning. Clinical depression is defined as a sustained state of these feelings, which persists for more than two weeks. Depression is thought to be caused by an imbalance of brain chemicals, but other factors such as family history/genetics, trauma, stress and other psychological conditions such as anxiety disorders may also be associated.
Symptoms of depression include:
Conventional treatments focus on counselling and medication, or a combination of both. There are, however, associated side affects with medical antidepressants. This is due to the lack of understanding medical science has about depression and how various medication affects the brain. Some of the various side effects of antidepressants include:
Research has indicated that an inadequate diet can cause, or contribute to, depression. If you are suffering from depression, consider how much Omega-3 fatty acids or polyunsaturated fatty acids are part of your diet. A shortage of omega-3 fatty acids in the diet may contribute to mood disorders, and might be a useful form of treatment for mood disorders. They are considered essential to human health, playing a crucial role in brain function as well as normal growth and development. They are highly concentrated in the brain and appear to be particularly important for cognitive performance and behavioural function. They also control the synthesis of 'mood' chemicals in the brain and are important components of nerve cell membranes which aid in nerve cell communication. These are all essential for maintaining good mental health.
Omega 3 fatty acids cannot be manufactured by the body, and must therefore be obtained from our diet. One factor that has contributed to a higher incidence of depression in the West has been the change in diet over the past 150 years. Omega-3 fatty acids from fish, wild game and plants have been replaced by saturated fats from domestic animals and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids from common vegetable oils. These changes have led to a ten-fold increase in the ratio of 'bad' omega-6 to 'good' omega-3 fatty acids in the Western diet. Research indicates that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and help prevent risk factors associated with chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. Symptoms of omega-3 fatty acid deficiency include fatigue, poor memory, dry skin, heart problems, poor circulation and depression.
Various fish species are particularly rich in omega-3 fatty acids. This includes fish such as: salmon, tuna, herring, anchovies, sardines and halibut. It is recommended you include two portions a week in your diet. Alternative sources include flax seeds, linseed oil, kiwifruit and walnuts. Omega-3 supplements are also widely available.
If you are depressed share your feelings with a close friend or relative. Acknowledging your condition is the first step in dealing with depression. You can also visit a doctor, counselor, therapist or dietitian to discuss your condition.