The DSM-5 (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder 5th Edition) has eight criteria for diagnosing depression. These criteria are:
- Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day
- Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day.
- Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain, or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day.
- A slowing down of thought and a reduction of physical movement (observable by others, not merely subjective feelings of restlessness or being slowed down).
- Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.
- Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day.
- Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day.
- Recurrent thoughts of death, recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide.
To receive a diagnosis, these symptoms “must cause the individual clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. The symptoms must also not be a result of substance abuse or other medical conditions” (DSM-5) The individual must have at least five of the eight criteria and experience them all within the same two-week period. Additionally, the five symptoms must include either criteria 1 (“Depressed mood most of the day…”) or criteria 2 (“Markedly diminished interest…”).
The noted reasons for depression are physical brain differences, chemical imbalances, hormone changes, life changes, and genes. Symptoms of depression can also be caused by vitamin deficiencies, poor gut health, and chronic inflammation.
Common treatments for depression include anti-depressant prescriptions, therapy, and medical procedures. Natural solutions to depression that some may try first or on top of western medicine include diet changes, lifestyle changes, and supplements.
Can Supplements Help Your Mood?
The short answer to this is YES. Whether you are struggling with diagnosed depression, anxiety or even just being tired everyday, supplements can add energy and joy to your life. A lack of nutrition, exposure to toxins and malabsorption are all causes for supplements. And guess what?
Supplements are for everyone. I don’t care if you have the CLEANEST, HEALTHIEST diet on the PLANET, supplements are a necessity for optimal health. We live in such a toxic world that we are constantly needing to replenish important nutrients. We can’t possibly eat enough B-vitamin-containing foods to keep up with the stressful schedules we ask our bodies to endure. Besides the demands we put on our bodies, we are often eating foods that don’t have high nutrition value. And to top it off, many of our vegetables and fruits don’t have the nutrients they once contained because our soils have been stripped by modern farming practices.
Supplements are a must for optimal self-care. HOWEVER, not all supplements are created equal and not everyone needs all supplements. Please note, this is not an official diagnosis for any person. If you want to know what is specifically right for you, please make an appointment with me so that we can discuss your specific blood work and lifestyle.
Are Supplements Dangerous?
In recent years, there have been rumors that supplements are “dangerous”. While this is typically an overly generalized exaggeration, I wanted to discuss some of the pros and cons of supplements.
While supplements are not necessarily “dangers”, there are some rules to supplements. Above all, look for quality. Just like you can find low quality junk food, you can also find low quality junk supplements. Choose your supplements from a brand or someone you trust. And take the right doses. High-quality supplement brands base their doses on medical studies. So that 100mg turmeric capsule from the big-box discount store isn't going to do a thing for you. But 750mg Curamed has medical studies to back up its claims. If you don't want to do days worth of medical research, then find someone who has done that research and buy from them. If you decide to wing it at the health food store, then at the very least, make sure the bottle has the CGMP logo on it. This ensures that the supplement company employs Certified Good Manufacturing Processes. In other words, they are certified by an outside organization who monitors their ingredients and cleanliness.
Additionally, you will want to check that any supplements you are considering do not affect any prescribed medication that you are on. If you are regularly taking medication, consult with your primary care doctor to see if there are any contradictions or complications that could arise.
What Natural Supplements Help With Depression Symptoms?
Before starting a natural path to easing symptoms of depression, it is important to remember that natural solutions often take longer to see the effect. It is also noted that the release you do find will also last longer. Think going deeper, stronger roots.
St. John's Wart - St. John’s Wart is a popular natural solution. Both the leaves and flowers are used for medicinal purposes. It has been used for centuries to treat mental health problems across the board.
Vitamin B - Vitamin B levels are important for your brain health. Vitamins B-12 and B-6 are particularly important for brain function in relation to depression symptoms. Vitamin B can improve energy and decrease symptoms of depression (or potentially end symptoms all together).
Saffron - Saffron is made of dried Stigma of the Crocus sativus flower. Some of the potential benefits of Saffron are that is can aid digestion, smooth menstruation, improve mood and increase relaxation.
Vitamin D for Depression (and Seasonal Depression)
Vitamin D is a girl's (and guy's) best friend. It isn't every day or even every decade that the government changes its established recommendations for vitamin intake. But that is exactly what happened in 2010. The Recommended Daily Allowance of vitamin D was increased due to an epidemic of low vitamin D levels across the United States. It is optimal for you to make vitamin D in your body by spending time in the sun. But to raise your vitamin D levels this way can take months of sun exposure. Most of us don't live where the sun is shining for more than 4-5 months of the year. So that leaves us with vitamin D3 supplements.
Vitamin D is beneficial for bone health, fighting high blood pressure and other diseases. It is also significant for mood and fighting depression symptoms. As suggested above, vitamin D is especially helpful for fighting seasonal depression symptoms caused by a lack of sunshine.
Other natural solutions to your depression include healing your gut, decreasing inflammation in your body, and balancing your hormones.
If you are looking to start your journey towards naturally healing your symptoms of depression, schedule a free consultation with me here.