Statistics report that 1 in 4 people experience depression or anxiety in their lifetime. The good news is that it is a very treatable condition. The naturopathic approach to depression and anxiety focuses on identifying and treating the cause using a combination of dietary, lifestyle and herbal/supplement recommendations, as well as cognitive-behavioural therapy.
Nowadays, the terms “depression” and “anxiety” are used loosely so both internal and external imbalances can be the cause. By internal influences I am referring to an imbalance in brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) that leads to distorted moods, thinking, and behaviour. That is why a person who seemingly has everything going for them with no apparent reason to be depressed or anxious can be.
There are many alternatives to treating depression and anxiety. Our diet has a significant influence on our brain’s behaviour. A poor diet, especially one high in junk food, is often a contributing factor.
The levels of neurotransmitters in our brain are controlled by what we eat. One very important neurotransmitter is serotonin – serotonin plays a role in mood, sleep, and appetite. Low levels of serotonin may result from diets too high in simple sugars/ carbohydrates (e.g., white sugar, white flour, sweets, and processed foods) and lead to depression, anxiety, and sleep disturbances.
Diets high in complex carbohydrates, on the other hand, help to increase serotonin and elevate mood. In general, eat a diet that is high in raw fruits and vegetables, whole grains (e.g., brown rice, oats, and millet), raw unsalted nuts and seeds, and legumes (e.g., chick peas, kidney beans, peas, lentils). Such a diet will ensure adequate amounts of complex carbohydrates to increase and balance serotonin levels in the brain.