Dr. Godby: Depression a widespread source of suffering

Depression significantly impacts the lives for at least 10% of the U.S. population.  If the same 10% also applies to Davis, 6,400 residents from our town suffer from clinical depression.  More than 30 million Americans take anti-depressant or anti-anxiety drugs!

The official definition of clinical depression, according to the American Psychiatric Association, is based on the presence of 5 or more of these 8 symptoms for more than a month:

• Poor appetite with weight loss or increased appetite with weight gain
• Insomnia or over sleeping
• Physical hyperactivity or inactivity
• Loss of interest in pleasure in usual activities or decrease in sexual drive
• Feelings of worthlessness, self-reproach, or inappropriate guilt
• Loss of energy and feelings of fatigue
• Diminished ability to think or concentrate
• Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

Dr. Michael Murray, ND and Dr. Peter B. Bongiorno, ND believe the best model to explain depression is “learned helplessness.”  Psychologist Seligman’s life-long, ground-breaking research on depression found that helping patients to be more optimistic and gain greater control of their lives produced even greater positive biochemical changes than anti-depressant drugs.

Seligman found a direct correlation between an individual’s level of pessimism and the likelihood of developing not only clinical depression but other illnesses as well. Optimists were virtually immune from depression, but pessimists were extremely likely to battle depression and other psychological disturbances.

There are many causes of depression.  Preexisting physical conditions such as: diabetes, heart disease, hormonal imbalance, lung disease, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic pain and inflammation, cancer, liver disease and multiple sclerosis can significantly contribute to depression.  Side effects from some prescription drugs: anti-hypertensives, anti-inflammatory agents, birth control pills, antihistamines, corticosteroids, tranquilizers and sedatives also are known causes of depression.

Naturopathic doctors will also address other significant factors, such as: blood sugar balance (hypoglycemia, diabetes); counseling; detoxification capacity; environmental (heavy metals); hormonal factors (thyroid, DHEA, cortisol, testosterone, IGF-1, estrogen, progesterone); lifestyle factors (smoking, alcohol, caffeine, exercise, sleep disturbances); nutritional (food allergies, deficiencies, poor diet); and yeast overgrowth.

If you or a loved one suffers from depression, two of the most effective ways to treat depression are: exercising and eating nutritiously.  Regular exercise may be the most powerful natural antidepressant available.  Also, consuming foods high in: essential fatty acids: salmon, nuts (especially walnuts) and seeds (flax, pumpkin); complex carbohydrates: whole grains, vegetables and legumes; and excellent sources of protein (lean poultry, eggs and soy) can make a significant difference in overcoming depression.

Dr. Dennis Godby, Doctor of Naturopathy, Sutter Medical Foundation.
He may be reached online or at his Sacramento Office (916) 446-2591

Dr Godby is also the  the author of
The Practical Guide to Overcoming Diabetes Naturally