Five foods to beat depression

60 Minutes on CBS had one of the more irresponsible pieces of journalism I’ve ever seen last weekend.

The segment was called Changing Minds: Area 25. It was about a type of surgery that is now being used to help people with depression.

I almost couldn’t believe my eyes as the surgeons drilled multiple holes into a woman’s head and installed wires to provide stimulation to a part of the brain known as “Area 25.” The craziest part was when Lesley Stahl, the reporter, said the following:

Debra has tried “everything:” numerous psychiatrists, anti-depressants: more than 30 different kinds, and a dozen electric shock treatments. Nothing worked.

And there I was, screaming at the TV like a rabid football fan “You call that everything?? What about diet? What about exercise?”
I have to assume that neither the patient nor Lesley Stahl knew that diet and exercise could play a major part in depression. But what about all the doctors??

The popular news show did stress that this procedure was a “last resort,” but showing these surgery cases without even mentioning safer therapies isn’t a great message.

Depression is likely caused by something in a person’s lifestyle — food, activity level or thoughts.

Psychologists and psychiatrists will delve into a person’s thoughts, but more and more they are likely to choose the “quick fix” of anti-depressant drugs.

A friend of mine was feeling depressed and visited a psychologist, who, on her very first visit, promptly referred her to a psychiatrist who could prescribe the drugs he thought were necessary. This happened in my friend’s case because her company’s insurance plan only covered three visits to a therapist per year, and the psychologist thought (probably correctly) that three sessions of talk therapy wouldn’t really help enough. So drugs became the first option.

I found an excellent article about five foods that can help a depressed person perk up:

  1. Foods with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. These include walnuts, fatty fish (like salmon, tuna) and flaxseed oil. Fish oil supplements are also useful.
  2. Brewer’s yeast. This is available in most health food stores. It doesn’t taste great, but you can easily add it to a smoothie. Not for those who can’t tolerate yeast products.
  3. Brown rice. Contains lots of B vitamins, and is low-glycemic, meaning it allows sugars to be absorbed slowly, providing energy for the long-term. Just avoid the “instant” rice packages.
  4. Whole grain oats. Again, loaded with B vitamins, and soothing to the digestive tract. Use oats, quinoa or spelt. Stay away from instant.
  5. Cabbage. This is one of my favorites. Really! I like the flavor of it and it does a lot to give a salad a nice crunch. Plus, it lasts a long time in the fridge. Just start with small amounts to avoid gassiness.

Just as important are the foods to avoid. Anything with: caffeine, high-sugar, high-fat. Plus, there are many medications that contribute to depression as a known side-effect.

One more note on depression. I have felt “depressed” many times in my life, but I’ve never had a full-blown depression. But I know someone who did. He wrote a book about his experiences, going through drug after drug and therapist after therapist. His book is called Irrational Medicine and his story is incredible. I read it from cover to cover and was amazed that he is still alive after everything he went through. He credits a variety of holistic therapies, including reiki and nutrition counseling, with his eventual healing from depression. I really recommend this book to anyone suffering from any level of depression.

And, of course, regular exercise always helps. This study shows that exercise can be just as effective as anti-depressants in some cases.

Author by Daryl Kulak