I’ll agree that getting someone in the deep throes of depression to exercise is not likely to happen. But that does NOT mean that natural cures for depression won’t work.
Motivation is not high on the list of character traits of a person with depression. For this reason exercise, which is arguably the most powerful tool available for improving depression, is not going to happen.
But, what I cannot accept, is that other lifestyle choices that don’t require motivation, but rather require the right choices, cannot be implemented. The right lifestyle choices, largely dietary, are a conscious decision made most often at the grocery store. Anyone can choose to buy a bag of potato chips or choose to buy vegetables or nuts. These decisions will clearly have an impact on brain health.
Many will snort in derision at the idea that diet can impact brain health and subsequently depression. To these people–how can you possibly think that the foods and nutrients that you put into your body are NOT going to affect your brain? It’s not like the brain is isolated from every other organ system; rancid processed hydrogenated oil, aspartame, FD&C red dye, that brominated vegetable oil, mercury present in the high fructose corn syrup; they are ALL going to touch the cells in your brain. These toxic compounds will insinuate themselves into the very machinery of your neurons and interrupt function.
Does this sound like diet does not have an impact on brain function? To think otherwise tells me that you have too many of these compounds in your life already.
As I was reviewing all the research that went into my Depression Risk Factors: Beat it Before it Starts, Fight it Once it Does eBook, I was reminded of just how powerful healthy fats such as DHA and EPA (fish oils) are in depression. And this is not information from Reader’s Digest–it is from medical studies supporting the benefit of heathy fats on depression.
All of this leads us to this particular study. In it, researchers looked at the what happened to depression scores (using the Beck Depression Inventory) in 55 prediabetic patients who followed one of two low-calorie diets (30% fewer calories) for 6 months. Here are the details:
- Both diets improved self-perceived depression.
- Those who ate more omega-3-fatty acids had lower depressive symptoms at baseline.
- Those who increased their dietary folate had better improvement in depression.
- Those with a greater decrease in oxidative stress (as measured by malondialdehyde levels) also had better improvement in depressive symptoms.
Back to the individual depressed person who does not have the motivation to exercise and does not believe that dietary changes can have an impact on depression. You can no longer hide behind the belief that dietary changes are pointless. Dietary changes do not require effort, they require a decision.
Make that decision now and follow these changes for 3 months and see how you feel. If (when?) the changes help your brain, use this window of time to add in exercise. Dietary changes and exercise all the long-term tools to help your brain.