A lot has been written on depression and the volumes that have been spent on the subject indicates the degree of mystery about depression. Most experts disagree about the causes of depression. Obviously we can talk about two kinds of depression;1) Environmental depression an 2) endogenous depression.
In environmental depression a person usually knows what caused the depression as in bereavement or rejection of love, financial difficulties. People with this kind of depression seldom consult a therapist because they know what to do in order to resolve the problem.
This is not the case with endogenous depression where the person is unaware and at a loss to understand why one is depressed. A stressful situation in life can cause the body to produce stress hormones, that are designed to deal with stress. It pumps adrenaline into the body to take drastic action. Adrenaline functions to increase blood sugar levels so as to feed the brain and muscles with energy in readiness for strenuous action.
Adrenaline interferes with the production of feel good neurotransmitters such as serotonin. Nature did not intend us to be relaxed when under stress. When the stress has been resolved most healthy people start to produce normal levels of stress hormones and neurotransmitters and life resumes. But this is not happening with some people who continue to be be stressed in the absence of environmental stress. This is typical in the case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
In this case the person continues to feel stressed and depressed despite the fact that the triggering trauma has long been passed. The only possible explanation to the victim is that the trauma was and still is causing of a person's mood disorder in the here-and-now.
It is not difficult to associate depression with nutritional disorders, because it is now widely accepted that neurotransmitters such as serotonin are manufactured in the body from nutritional forerunners such as tryptophan.
Thus we see a plethora of advice to take various forms of supplements such as St John Wort, SAM-e, Tryptophan or 5-htp, Weight reduction pills and herbs or various other natural products to replace medicinal drugs such as Prozac and Zoloft or the popular Cipralex.
The problem with all these miracle drugs is that they underestimate the biochemical complexity in the production feel good brain chemicals. St Johns Wort is not going to be any help if the body lacks sufficient tryptophan because of a low protein diet.
The conversion of tryptophan into serotonin requires a host of other nutrients such as magnesium, zinc, vitamin B1, B3, B6, lipoic acid and so forth.
If the body lacks vitamin B3 (niacin) or has extraordinary requirements for this vitamin, the body may use up all its tryptophan sources to convert this to niacin at the rate of 60 to 1. Not much tryptophan will be left for conversion to serotonin.
People often overlook the fact that for the body to convert one set of molecules into an other - as in the conversion of tryptophan into serotonin - it will need an extraordinary amount of biological energy called ATP . Without that energy the biochemical machinery of brain cells comes to a halt and no serotonin will be produced.
This is usually due to insulin resistance which will result in diabetes if not attended to. Insulin resistance in the prediabetic stage is called the hypoglycemic syndrome. Studies have shown that most depressed people suffer from hypoglycemia when tested by a special prediabetic test for hypoglycemia as designed by Dr George Samra and explained here. Prediabetic insulin resistance is marked by unstable blood sugar levels going up and down.
It really means that the body has problems metabolizing sugar - the source of ATP - into brain energy. Excess and unused sugar has to go somewhere and it is usually accumulated in the form of fat cells. Hence the association of depression and obesity.
When there is a sudden drop in blood sugar levels the brain triggers the release of adrenaline - the fear stress hormone - and this explains why insulin resistance and hypoglycemia can cause sudden attacks of anxiety out of the blue. Again we see the association between depression and anxiety attacks. Alcohol is an antidote to adrenaline and so it should not be a surprise to discover that most alcoholics are hypoglycemic and take alcohol as self-medication against excess adrenaline production.
The medical condition has also been identified as Syndrome-X by the medical profession. Strangely enough doctors have not be able to connect this to depression, nor are doctors familiar with how to test for it.
Thus it is clear that depression and many other forms of "mental" illnesses may be due to a Nutritional Disorder.
Although the biochemistry of depression and many other mood disorders is complex, its nutritional treatment is remarkably simple in most cases. The first step is to adopt the Hypoglycemic Diet and treat any other metabolic disorder that is known to be responsible for depression. If any problems arise it is best to consult a Nutritional Doctor or a Clinical Nutritionist. Nutritional therapy is not merely about being on a "healthy" or "natural" diet, but specifically aims at treating known metabolic disorders underlying depression.
Nutritional therapy must take place before considering any psychotherapy. We have a free self-help Psychotherapy course at our web site, which may be beneficial to patients suffering from depression.