What is it?
Depression is a chronic psychiatric condition that can be very debilitating or even life threatening. People who are depressed will typically feel sad and hopeless, may have changes in eating and sleeping patterns, and may move and think more slowly than usual. If severe, they may think about or plan suicide. The most common symptoms include being fatigued and unable to get motivated to participate in or enjoy activities that used to be pleasurable (including sex).
What causes it?
We don’t know exactly what causes depression; however, experts agree that some people are more prone to depression than others and that certain events or situations can put these people at risk for suffering from the illness. What we do know is that there are chemicals in the brains that impact how we handle stress, and these chemicals appear to be out of balance for those diagnosed with depression.
Many medical conditions and some medications can contribute to symptoms of depression. People with depression often struggle with anxiety or mood swings as well. In addition, poor nutrition may contribute to depression. People who are depressed often either eat too much because it’s soothing or eat too little because they have no appetite or energy for eating. Nutritional balance certainly suffers either way.
What role might cytokines play?
Brain chemicals (called neurotransmitters) are intimately influenced by cytokines produced by fat, liver, and immune tissues. Depression is more common, for instance, in patients who overproduce C-Reactive Protein (or CRP) – common in those with metabolic syndrome, heart disease, and diabetes. Other cytokines called “interleukins” (IL-6, IL-2, and others) are closely tied to depression. The most dramatic example is the adverse side effect experienced by some when taking interferon (related to interleukin). Interferon is used for treating viral hepatitis; the profound depression that results in many cases often requires discontinuing the treatment.
Other cytokine hormones (leptin, ghrelin, cholecystokinin) have dramatic effects on eating behavior, which in turn, may lead to metabolic problems that contribute to depression.
The brain’s nerve cells have receptors that are very sensitive to changes in cytokine production, nutrition balance, and external factors. The common receptors known to affect depression (serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine) are also intricately tied to energy metabolism. Most antidepressants cause weight gain by impacting how these neurochemicals affect eating behavior and energy expenditure (exercise and activity). Many of these antidepressants also raise cytokine levels, occasionally dramatically, and can even cause or precipitate diabetes.
What results could I expect with MNT?
The symptoms of depression most likely to improve with MNT are fatigue (lack of energy), joy, motivation, and sex drive. Based on over a decade of clinical experience, these symptoms most dramatically improve during Food Phase 1 of the Plan.
Because some antidepressant medications may contribute to weight gain and sexual dysfunction, it’s important to talk to your doctor about how possible medication side effects might impact your general health. MNT may play a vital role in managing side effects that could occur with those medications that may best treat your depressive symptoms.
At the very least, the Amino Solution offers balanced nutrition for balanced brain function while reducing the levels of toxic cytokines known to be associated with depression. A lower, leaner weight will improve self confidence, make movement (exercise) easier, and will gain more favorable social interaction from others – factors all known to effect depression.
How can I measure symptom change on the plan?
First, visit your physician to determine what might be causing your depression. Next, rate your level of depression in the Workbook Calendar. This will give you a baseline measurement of how depressed you feel.
Most importantly, you (and your doctor) need a way to measure progress over time.
As you progress through the Plan, note how you feel when adding each food category. If a particular food seems to be related to when you experience symptoms of depression, share this information with your doctor and use the knowledge you gain to modify your diet.
As with any medical condition, treatment may involve taking medications to reduce your depression symptoms. Many of these medications require close physician supervision to change the dose or stop taking them. With PrescriptFit, you may find that as your symptoms lessen, you will need to take less medication OR perhaps discontinue your medications entirely.