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6 Ways to Combat Depression

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1. Feed Your Brain

The hunter-gatherer diet typically includes wild game that feed on grass, and fish that feed on algae — both abundant sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Conversely, the extraordinary rise in depression rates over the last century has closely mirrored the disappearance of omega-3 fats from the Western diet, which has come to rely more on grains (and grain-fed livestock) than wild game and plants. In countries where people still get a better dietary balance of omega-6s from seeds and omega-3s from grasses, leaves and algae, depression tends to be substantially less common.

How to Add More Omega 3s to Your Diet

But how, exactly, does an imbalance of the fats we eat make us more vulnerable to depression? Neuroscientists have identified three mechanisms that play a role:

Serotonin: Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps turn off the brain’s stress response. But when brain cells don’t have enough omega-3 fats, they have trouble understanding the message of serotonin, increasing a person’s vulnerability to the kind of out-of-control stress response that leads to the onset of depression.

Dopamine:
Lack of omega-3s also scrambles the messages of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that activates the left frontal cortex — the part of the brain that puts us in a good mood and pushes us to go after the things we want.

Inflammation: When unchecked by a balance of omega-3s, omega-6 fats promote inflammation throughout the body. Over time, chronic inflammation triggers a reduction in the production of tryptophan, the primary building block of serotonin. It also impairs the hippocampus, which is critical to memory function. And it triggers the stress hormone cortisol, which has its own set of depressive effects on the brain.

A key element of the TLC protocol is to begin taking a daily omega-3 supplement. The easiest source is fish-oil capsules. Fish oil is the richest natural source of both EPA and DHA, the two omega-3 molecules that play an important role in the brain. I recommend starting a daily dose of 1,000 milligrams of EPA and 500 milligrams of DHA to all of my patients.

If you currently have symptoms of depression, or if you want to help prevent the onset of illness in the future, this is the dose I suggest you begin with, as well. (If you are taking any medications, particularly blood thinners, check with your doctor first.)

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Read more: Depression, Health, Mental Wellness, Natural Remedies, Self-Help

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Megan, selected from Experience Life

Experience Life magazine is an award-winning health and fitness publication that aims to empower people to live their best, most authentic lives, and challenges the conventions of hype, gimmicks and superficiality in favor of a discerning, whole-person perspective. Visit experiencelife.com to learn more and to sign up for the Experience Life newsletter, or to subscribe to the print or digital version.

564 comments

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5:24AM PDT on Jul 26, 2014

thanks

4:53PM PDT on May 1, 2013

Thanks!

4:53PM PDT on May 1, 2013

Thanks!

6:48AM PST on Mar 1, 2013

thanks. I am on Paxel. it helps a lot (only 10 mg a day!)

8:06AM PST on Feb 22, 2013

:(

4:40AM PST on Feb 20, 2013

Great tips. I had an episode of depression this winter and went on Zoloft and I am doing really well. I still take it to sleep.

10:56AM PST on Jan 14, 2013

And to the persons commenting before me, if you want to get well, you have to stop with the negative thinking. I know that when you're having your dark hours, your brain goes against you, and it's impossible to think positive, but when that darkness lifts, then you can work on getting well. And you have to stop waiting for someone to help you, and start helping yourself! These six advices is the way to go!

10:33AM PST on Jan 14, 2013

This is really helpfull, thanks!!! I've always thought that depression have a connection with our modern way of life, this finally proves it for me! And I know from my own experience that all of these things helps. Now I'm on my way to be completely free from horrible depression!

7:18PM PST on Jan 1, 2013

Emily, I agree 100% with you too!

7:16PM PST on Jan 1, 2013

Kit, I saw your post after adding mine, but you are so right about everything you said! That's what I go through when I'm in depression mode, myself and it's sheer hell! It's like you CAN'T just pull yourself out of it! My brain just doesn't have the energy to even THINK, let alone act! It's like a paralysis of the brain! I can't even TALK straight! I just want to hibernate like the bears do for 2 months! It's horrible!!!

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