FITNESS
good health
Brace-up to beat the blues
Depression is usually caused by some chemical-imbalance in the brain. However, some digestive disorders, nutritional deficiencies, thyroid disorders can also cause this malady
Mickey Mehta

People who have low self-esteem and a negative outlook are at a higher risk of becoming depressed.
People who have low self-esteem and a negative outlook are at a higher risk of becoming depressed.

Wholesome foods like whole grains, beans, plenty of vegetables and fruits, especially bananas, low-fat milk/soy milk and fish and eggs for non vegetarians supply all nutrients needed to combat depression.
Wholesome foods like whole grains, beans, plenty of vegetables and fruits, especially bananas, low-fat milk/soy milk and fish and eggs for non vegetarians supply all nutrients needed to combat depression.

Yoga and meditation are a great help to alleviate depression
Yoga and meditation are a great help to alleviate depression

Depression is defined as a clinical ailment which needs treatment by medical experts and proper medication. It is not something that one should take lightly; rather it is a matter of concern. Patients who suffer from depression may have suicidal tendency, can be extremely moody and/or can suffer from delusions.

Depression, if explained in laymen terms, is usually caused by the imbalance of some chemicals in the brain which can occur due to various factors. These factors could be genetic, physical and emotional. Scientifically, there is no single cause for depression. The symptoms of depression range from uncomfortable to debilitating experiences, a feeling of worthlessness, difficulty in focusing and concentration, irritability, loss of interest in things around, anger, insomnia and even delusions. Many of us have seen and experienced friends or relatives struggle with depression and sometimes have even experienced it ourselves. Even today, very few people are ready to watch for these symptoms and realise how severe and common depression is and why it is very prevalent among women.

The onset of depression could be an amalgamation of factors such as:

1. Genetics: Some studies have researched whether there is any correlation between depression and genetics (whether it is inherited from grandparents or parents) who are likely to pass on a predisposition. Men and women have different vulnerabilities and different psychological and even hormonal reactions to stresses. Similarly, post-pubertal men and women have different levels of circulating gonadal steroids leading to different reactions. Research states that pubertal girls become more susceptible to depression than boys as they experience different levels of hormonal fluctuations.

2.Trauma and stress, aspects like financial problems, a broken relationship, or the death of a loved one etc

3.People who have low self-esteem and a negative outlook are at higher risk of becoming depressed.

4.Serious medical conditions like heart disease, cancer, and HIV can contribute to depression.

5.Other psychological disorders like anxiety disorders, eating disorders and schizophrenia also cause depression.

Depression may also be caused by tension, stress, migraine, digestive or colon disorders, nutritional deficiencies, thyroid disorders, marital problems and so on and so forth. Depression begins with a disturbance in the part of the brain that governs moods. Most people can handle daily stresses and pressures. But, when the stress is severe, the adjustment mechanism becomes unresponsive triggering symptoms of depression.

Food and its role in triggering and controlling depression:

It has been substantiated that many foods greatly influence moods and brain behaviour. Diet is often the cause of depression due to poor eating habits, snacking on unhealthy foods leading to obesity and its related health issues. The neurotransmitters (dopamine, serotonin and nor-epinephrine) that carry impulses between the nerve cells regulate our behaviour and this is controlled by what we eat. When the brain produces serotonin, tension and stress get eased. When it produces more of dopamine and nor-epinephrine, it makes us more alert to act.

Eating carbohydrate sources seems to have a calming effect. Complex carbohydrates raise the level of the amino acid, tryptophan (the substance that also processes serotonin), thus creating a calming effect. The protein in the food promotes the production of dopamine and non-epinephrine. It is best to achieve a balance by combining foods rich in both complex carbs and proteins. Avoid foods high in saturated fats like French fries and other processed junk foods, as this often leads to sluggishness and fatigue. Fats tend to inhibit the synthesis of the neurotransmitters as the fats cause the cells to become sticky leading to poor blood circulation, especially to the brains.

Our daily diet should include plenty of wholesome foods like, whole grains, beans, sprouts, vegetables, fruits especially bananas, nuts, low-fat milk/soy milk, wheat germ, good fats like vegetable oils, olive oil, flax seeds, and green leafy vegetables and fish and eggs for non vegetarians as these foods supply all nutrients needed to combat depression, stress, stress-related diseases and to improve brain function. The above food choices if incorporated in your diet daily, can be very stimulating, energy giving and will leave you with a feeling of complete wellness. That's why these are called 'happy foods'.

Exercise and yoga and its effect on depression:

Exercise leads to a release of hormones like endorphins and testosterone which help in giving energy and in cell building. Stretching, yoga, especially suryanamskar, are highly recommended. Yoga is particularly beneficial as this provides an opportunity to turn on the parasympathetic nervous system which controls the healing mechanism. It gives one a higher state of awareness and in the long run allows you to break the cycle of depression and stress. Breathing, pranayama and meditation are a great help to alleviate depression. Besides calming the mind, these techniques enhance the oxygen uptake by the lungs and reduces oxidation of cells and improves the immune system.

Positive outlook: Be proactive. Reach out to people, make friends, read and write letters. Even doing volunteer work can have far-reaching effects on your thought processes helping you to gain confidence to change from negative to positive.

So, it is never too late for depression and its pessimism to change track. And with adequate guidance and professional help it is possible to challenge your thoughts, change from negative to positive and enjoy the health benefits of restoring peace and happiness in one's world after it has been shattered.

- The writer is one of the leading holistic health gurus and has a health portal www.mickeymehtahbf.com

Health capsules

Nicotine patches, gums may do more harm than good

Nicotine patches may have helped many smokers kick the butt, but new research led by an Indian-origin scientist suggests they may actually do more harm than good.

Nicotine is proving to be a formidable carcinogen, say researchers who warn that nicotine-infused smoking cessation products may not be the safest way to help smokers quit. Nicotine is one of 4,000 chemicals found in cigarette smoke. While many of these chemicals are recognised as carcinogens, nicotine has up until now only been considered addictive rather than carcinogenic. It is heavily used in smoking cessation products in patches, gum, and now in the increasingly popular electronic cigarette, or e-cigarette.

Researchers, Geneticist Jasmin Bavarva and professor Harold Garner and a team at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute found that nicotine excessively mutates a cell's DNA. The study was published in the journal Oncotarget.

Weight-loss surgery can improve diabetes

Two small studies provide more evidence that weight-loss surgery may benefit people who are obese and have diabetes. Both studies found that blood sugar levels were more likely to improve among people who were randomly assigned to have surgery than among those who went through intensive diet and lifestyle programs instead.

Fasting may ward off diabetes

Fasting can reduce cholesterol levels in pre-diabetic people over extended period of time, says a new research. The research on periodic fasting has identified a biological process in the body that converts bad cholesterol in fat cells to energy, thus combating diabetes risk factors. Researchers at the Intermountain Heart Institute Murray, Utah, noticed that after 10 to 12 hours of fasting, the body starts scavenging for other sources of energy throughout the body to sustain itself. The body pulls LDL (bad) cholesterol from the fat cells and uses it as energy, says Benjamin Horne, director of cardiovascular and genetic epidemiology at the Institute and lead researcher on the study.

Prediabetes means the amount of glucose, also called sugar, in the blood is higher than normal but not high enough to be called diabetes.

The study participants were prediabetics, including men and women between the ages of 30 and 69 with a least three metabolic risk factors. These risk factors include a large waistline, a high triglyceride level, a low HDL or "good" cholesterol level, high blood pressure and high fasting blood sugar.

Adolescents' brains process sugar differently than adults

A new study has revealed that adolescent brains process sugar differently than adult brains. According to the study by researchers at the Yale School of Medicine, in adolescents, glucose increased the blood flow in the regions of the brain implicated in reward-motivation and decision-making, whereas in adults, it decreased the blood flow in these regions. Researcher Ania Jastreboff said that that while they cannot speculate directly about how glucose ingestion may influence behaviour; their study has certainly shown that there are differences in how adults and adolescents respond to glucose. The researchers said that it is important because adolescents are the highest consumers of dietary added sugars and it is just the first step in understanding what is happening in the adolescent brain in response to consumption of sugary drinks. The study was presented at the American Diabetes Association's 74th Scientific Sessions. Agencies

Caffeine affects teen boys and girls differently

Researchers have found that adolescent boys and girls experience different heart rate and blood pressure changes after consuming caffeine. Expert Jennifer Temple, Buffalo School of Public Health and Health Professions, examined heart rate and blood pressure before and after administration of placebo and two doses of caffeine in pre-pubertal and post-pubertal boys and girls. After puberty, boys and girls experience different heart rate and blood pressure changes after consuming caffeine. Girls also experience some differences in caffeine effect during their menstrual cycles. Past studies have shown that caffeine increases blood pressure and decreases heart rate in children, teens and adults, including pre-adolescent boys and girls.

The new study set out to determine whether gender differences in cardiovascular responses to caffeine emerge after puberty and if those responses differ across phases of the menstrual cycle. "We found an interaction between gender and caffeine dose, with boys having a greater response to caffeine than girls, as well as interactions between pubertal phase, gender and caffeine dose, with gender differences present in post-pubertal, but not in pre-pubertal, participants," Temple said. The study was published in the journal Pediatrics. PTI





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