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How to Manage Stress and Depression with Food


Depression is difficult to live with for a variety of reasons, not to mention the physiological signs and symptoms that accompany it. While these physiological side effects of depression seem like the least of your worries, addressing them can free you up to deal with the harder issues. There is evidence that suggests that addressing your biological needs, through diet and exercise, can actually minimize other symptoms of depression as well!

What are some of the physiological signs of depression

  • Constipation or other digestive issues

  • Trouble sleeping

  • Loss of appetite

  • Fatigue

Note: These are also common symptoms of Hypothyroidism. 20% of people with depression are actually mis-diagnosed people with hypothyroidism. Be sure to check with your doctor to ensure that you are properly diagnosed.

Stress and Depression The physiological symptoms of depression are all symptoms of chronic stress as well. Found in virtually all people with mood disorders is a hyperactivity of the body's HPA axis (hypothalamus, pituitary gland, adrenal gland axis). If you want to know more of the specifics of this axis, the video provided will give you an overview, but to sum it up for our purposes: When you see hyperactivity of the HPA Axis, think Cortisol and think stress. Some suggest that it is our body's inability to regulate this axis which leads to depression, anxiety, and Bipolar disorder. One study done in Australia, suggested that there is one gene associated with depression. There are two forms of this gene. One form pre-disposes people for depression and the other does not. However, the gene alone did not determine whether or not people developed depression. Rather, chronic stress in the lives of people with this gene dramatically increased their likelihood for developing depression. The associations between family history, stress and depression are fairly well established. But the details of these relationships are not. It is clear however, that stress can wreak havoc on your body and your mind.

We can't pick our genetic make-up and we can't, and shouldn't, avoid all stress in our lives. But we can choose how we respond to the stress that occurs in our lives. Likewise, the ever growing field of epigenetics suggests that we can actually influence the expressions of our genes with our diet and lifestyle. And this impact can carry through to the next generation! How you treat yourself can impact your children and your grandchildren.

So how to we help our bodies and minds to cope? Here are some diet and lifestyle changes to consider. These can truly help in the short term to manage your symptoms of stress and depression, but will also help set you up for wellbeing in the future. Everyone is different however and it can be helpful to work with someone one-on-one to make a customized plan for your needs.