If you’re reading this article, you probably feel depressed, anxious or stressed, or someone close to you is suffering. Maybe you’ve been looking for a solution to your depression for a long time. The good news is, it’s not all in your mind. There is a reason why you feel this way and you can be helped.
Your brain needs an adequate supply of natural chemicals like serotonin, endorphins, dopamine and GABA in order for you to feel happy, positive and relaxed. If for some reason you don’t have enough of any of these chemicals, then no matter how much therapy you have, you won’t be happy.
So why don’t you have enough of these “happiness chemicals”? You might have a genetic problem that means your body can’t produce enough of a particular brain chemical. You might have been through a long period of stress—when you are under stress, your brain uses up particular chemicals at a rapid rate and you can become depleted. Or it could be diet or lifestyle—a lifetime of dieting or living on junk food can mean that you just don’t have enough of the nutrients you need to produce the brain chemicals that are vital for happiness.
The important thing is to find out exactly what is causing your depression, and then follow a treatment plan for your particular condition. A program of vitamins, minerals and natural supplements designed to address your unique biochemical imbalances can start to improve your mood in as little as twenty-four hours.
So let’s take a look at a few common causes of depression, starting with pyroluria, a condition that causes depression, anxiety and social withdrawal, usually starting in the teenage years and getting worse over time. Pyroluria causes B6 and zinc to be continually dumped out of the body in the urine, leading to severe deficiencies of B6 and zinc. B6 is involved in over fifty different chemical reactions in the brain and zinc is used by the brain in at least sixty different enzymes, and the combined deficiency of these two nutrients has a profound effect on mood and mental health.
Symptoms of pyroluria can include:
- Depression, which can be mild or severe
- Social withdrawal
- Poor dream recall
- Pale skin and hair
- Stretch marks
- Poor immune system
- Tendency to low protein or vegetarian diets (protein is digested poorly with low zinc and B6)
- Poor appetite in the morning, morning nausea
- Poor sense of taste and smell
- Thin, fragile fingernails, white marks on nails
Pyroluria can be diagnosed with a simple urine test. Treatment involves high doses of zinc and B6 together with some supporting supplements. Most pryolurics will see a significant improvement within a few days of starting treatment.
Another common cause of depression is serotonin deficiency. Serotonin is one of the brain’s most important happiness chemicals. Symptoms of serotonin deficiency can include:
- panic or phobias
- irritability, impatience
- low self esteem
- repetitive thoughts
- suicidal thoughts
- sugar cravings
- muscle pain
- depression that’s worse in winter
Serotonin is made in the body from tryptophan, an amino acid found in foods like chicken, beef and cheese. Serotonin levels can be low for a number of reasons, including too much stress, poor diet and not enough exposure to light.
Our bodies convert the amino acid tryptophan into a substance called 5-HTP which is then converted to serotonin. One of the simplest ways to boost serotonin levels is to take a natural 5-HTP supplement. This can start to lift the black clouds of serotonin deficiency depression in as little as half an hour.
It is important to find out the cause of your depression before you start treating yourself. If your depression is caused by serotonin deficiency then 5-HTP can work wonders, but if your depression is caused by something else, 5-HTP will either have no effect or will make you feel worse. If you have taken herbs or supplements for depression in the past and found they didn’t help, the reason is that you took the wrong supplements for your condition.
Fortunately there is no need to use a “trial and error” approach to treating depression. Different causes of depression have different symptoms and an experienced practitioner can make a proper diagnosis by looking at your case history and ordering some simple blood tests and urine tests.
You can find a series of questionnaires for 13 of the most common causes of depression at www.gethelpfordepression.info. The site is designed to give you an idea of what might be causing your depression and help you find a health care practitioner who is familiar with your condition.