I graduated from medical school in Seattle where is ranked #1 suicide ratio in the US.  There are many people with depressive disorders or committing suicide particularly in winter time. Environments or climate can influence people emotionally. Even in Southern California where it is blessed with warm and sunny weather, we still have to face an unstable economy or other gloomy news that make us feel depressed.

The symptoms of the depression vary. Typical symptoms are losing /gaining weight by excessive hunger or loss of appetite, sleeping too little or too much, sluggishness, loss of interests in activities, decline of libido, fatigue, self-hate, guilt, trouble concentrating or focusing, and constantly thinking about death or suicide.

16 million Americans suffer from depression and one in 10 are taking anti-depressant medications. Why are there so many depressed people?

Here are two major causes. One is likely to occur when they are cornered into a difficult life circumstances. Another case is a chemical or physiological cause. Reduction of the neurotransmitter serotonin, thyroid abnormalities, menopause, insomnia, decreased adrenal function, low blood sugar, food allergies, heavy metals, poor nutrition, medicine (anti-histamine, high blood pressure, steroids, anti-inflammatory agent), alcohol, caffeine, and infectious diseases are the typical causes.

Psychological counseling would be the most important treatment for depression, and getting rid of those causes mentioned above if they were not caused by emotional distress. Increasing the amount of the neurotransmitter serotonin is a great treatment too. Most of anti-depressant medicines affect serotonin levels, however serotonin can be increased by changing life styles. What reduces serotonin? Smoking, alcohols, sugar, too much animal protein, abnormality of blood sugar and not enough nutrition can decrease your serotonin. Improving your lifestyle and diet are important though time and patience are needed.

I recommend, as an immediate treatment, 5-HTP and St. John’s Wort which can increase your serotonin. 5-HTP is a precursor of serotonin and 70% of it turns into serotonin in your body. Taking 100mg-200mg of 5-HTP three times a day is very effective. St. John’s Wort works like anti-depressant medicine with much less side effect and has been used for treating mental disorders for many years. Taking 300mg a day is very effective.

Exercise is probably the most important and effective treatment for depression. You can decrease not only anxiety, depressive feeling and fatigue but also you will be able to feel happier and value yourself more positively. Regular based exercise can help you increase neurotransmitters which directly influence your emotions and decrease your stress hormones.

People who skip breakfast are more prone to feel depressed. It is because of an imbalance of blood sugar and not enough nutrition. Having well balanced meals three times a day is a basic factor to treat depression.

Lack of vitamin D can cause seasonal depression particularly in winter. In this case, taking 4000-6000IU of vitamin D a day for a month will make you feel better.


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