Nothing makes me more irritated than seeing memes, articles, and blog posts which marginalize depression with attitude adjustment advice. Depression is not an attitude problem. If it were, depression would vanish when we changed our attitude. Depression is a chronic deficiency of the hormone dopamine, which decreases during winter months when the sun's energy is less direct. Drugs (prescriptions too) and Alcohol are used as a counter measure to depression, because they force the production of various hormones including dopamine. Unfortunately to the dismay of sufferers none of those methods are permanent, nor are they healthy. Healthful alternatives exist which promise some degree of permanence which are just as effective as drugs and alcohol and without the negative health and social consequences.
For years I suffered severe depression and generalized anxiety disorder. I no longer suffer either. To permanently remove depression one must restore their endocrine system integrity through diet, as while environmental contributions can worsen or enforce depression the phenomenon is entirely grounded in diet. I detail how in this article: How I Cured My Depression.
Here are five easy ways I have found to immediately raise your levels of dopamine.
5 EASY WAYS TO INTERRUPT DEPRESSION
1.) Banana Peel Crazy, right? Banana peel actually contains a huge amount of dopamine. Unlike drugs or alcohol, which don't contain dopamine but force the body's production of it, banana peel lends you already-made dopamine, and quite a bit of it. This will not only lift your mood, but it spares the materials used to create more dopamine later thus avoiding the causes of chronic deficiency. The best bananas for this are ORGANIC bananas which are not fully ripe. The peel is slightly bitter and a little tough, so it's best blended in with a smoothie. One banana peel can be enough to change your entire outlook from gloomy to sunny for 24 hours. Only use organic bananas, as pesticides can contribute to depression.
2.) Taurine Red Bull gives you wings because Taurine and sugar make good dopamine producing partners. Taurine increases your metabolic rate so it must be fueled with adequate carbohydrates and protein or else you will get very hungry after taking it. Taurine is directly involved in Dopamine production. It is synthesized by our bodies because there are no high dietary sources of it in nature, but depressed people have very low levels of taurine in their body. Supplementing it directly raises dopamine levels so well that if you take it inconsistently (missing a dose) it can cause a slight headache from stress rebound. Taurine can cause a stomach ache if you take too much too soon, and never use supplements which contain any form of silica, which many do, which is very toxic as a supplement. Only use silica free Taurine supplement if you choose to do so.
3.) Caffeine/Coffee Everyone's favorite beverage has its title for a reason—caffeine lowers the hormones which oppose dopamine. The biggest mistake most people make in regard to coffee/caffeine consumption however is to take it on an empty stomach. This can actually worsen depression and anxiety because caffeine ALWAYS increases the metabolic rate, and if there is nothing for your cells to use as fuel it causes a worsening increase in stress hormones. Coffee/caffeine taken with food has the opposite effect, supercharging your metabolism, and with plenty of calories it makes your cells heal faster and use nutrients more efficiently, powerfully lowering the stress hormones which oppose dopamine.
4.) Lithium You don't have to go to the doctor to get lithium. Even supplementing it can have huge benefits. In depression and other mental illness disorders ammonia is usually greatly elevated. Ammonia is a natural byproduct of the breakdown of protein during digestion and assimilation. In sick people there is more ammonia or the body is unable to detoxify it as quickly as a healthy person. Taking a lithium supplement daily, or whenever you ingest protein, can easily bind to and inactivate any excess ammonia and help ease difficult emotions.
5.) Avoid Wheat Wheat Gluten is a powerful promoter of the stress hormones which oppose dopamine, and it causes depression in individuals who are susceptible to it. You may initially experience pleasure from eating wheat, because of the high starch content, but within about two or three hours gluten is actively tearing down your dopamine and causing other systemic stress. This can also lead to insomnia and other inflammation related conditions. Ceasing wheat consumption is the most important way to permanently combat depression and anxiety, as continuing consumption will maintain the condition and even worsen it. Life without pizza is kind of sad though, so when you are better you can have some once in a while. You can test out the damage that wheat consumption does for yourself. Avoid it completely for one week, then note the changes to your body, sleep, and mood after a large meal of it. You won't need any more convincing after such an experiment.
6.) Pregnenolone Much of the emotional stress involved in depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses are a practical deficit of beneficial steroids within the body. Unable to create the adequate amounts of cholesterol, sex steroids, and other hormones like dopamine, the body is resorting to backup modes of energy production. Pregnenolone is the master hormone of the body, created directly from cholesterol. It is widely available as a supplement and has no real negative side effects, since it does not directly have hormonal actions but is instead used by the body to create whatever hormones currently in short supply and can help rescue a distressed endocrine system. The one caveat is that if your diet is poor or you engage in metabolism-lowering behaviors like drinking alcohol or starvation, pregnenolone can convert into unhelpful stress hormones far down the hormone cascade. If you are taking measures to eat healthy, keep your blood sugar elevated, and using other metabolism-increasing substances like aspirin and coffee, then Pregnenolone will convert into helpful hormones and help to erase the physical discomfort you may be experiencing.