We heard this word more often than not, especially when we’re sitting around watching TV and witness a commercial showing people sad then happy before the 30 seconds is up.

This word is typically thrown around when we see others exhibiting “out of the norm” behaviors such as excess sleep, sadness, lack of motivation and a loss for activities we once loved.

What do we do?  75% of us will go to the doctor (rarely a psychiatrist) and describe these symptoms and ask them what we do.  Usually, their response is pulling out their pad, filling out a script and telling us to go get this medication filled to help us feel better.  Of course we do it because why not?  The doctor knows best therefore we do what they suggest in hopes this will fix the problem.

Over time we might experience a slight lift in our moods, some side effects until the body adjusts and quite possibly a deeper “funk” than what we experienced before.

This term, DEPRESSION is so rampant and dominates a significant chunk of our society today.  Why?  Because we are overfed with shitty food, rarely move and seldom get outside for fresh air.  Sound familiar?

Of course we all have in some form or another struggled with an ounce of what might have been considered depression.  We might have lost a loved one, gone through a divorce or got laid off from our dream job and experienced feelings of sadness.  That’s normal and that’s what humans are meant to experience!

As Brene Brown said in her book The Gifts of Imperfections, “We cannot experience joy unless we experience sadness.  You can’t have one and not the other.  We can’t say, we only want to be happy and not feel the sad times.  Our brains don’t work that way.  We have to experience both, there’s no such thing as limited emotions.”

Sounds about right huh?  Therefore, I can guarantee we have all felt those moments of feeling blue, down and about and not wanting to pop out of bed and conquer the world everyday.  But what about those that are given an antidepressant?  What about those of us that go to the doctor because we’ve been feeling “sad” for over 6 weeks?  (This is about the time frame in which doctors suggest we might be clinically depressed)

Here’s the thing, depression is a symptom of something much greater.  I do feel that bipolar, schizophrenia and the more severe cases take on a different realm but for the sake of depression and anxiety I feel without a doubt there is something beneath that.  Not many people ask WHY?  Why am I depressed?  Why am I feeling this way?  Rather than taking the “magic pill” we need to be asking WHY!  Why do I think we are more depressed than ever?  Here’s my opinion:

  1.  We are eating food that is utter garbage.  Think about it, how many fast food chains do you see on your drive home from work compared to a fresh market near by?  How many people do you see trim, healthy looking and very active compared to overweight, slow moving individuals that look unhealthy?  How many fresh gardens do we see with free roaming cattle and chickens compared to only seeing the slab of meat that’s on our plates?  Do we really know where that came from?  We probably don’t even want to know.  Think about all of the young girls that have started their periods at a much younger age than 10 years ago.  All of the hormones injected into our meats have a direct impact on our younger generation starting their periods earlier and growing larger breasts.  Think about all of the packaged, processed, sugar-laden, sodium high, excess calorie foods we eat on a daily basis!  Rarely are there fresh, wholesome and high quality foods that we can access as quickly as a diet coke at the gas station.  It takes work to eat healthy and it takes time to find a place that actually provides information on where their meat and eggs came from.  We have to begin to be smart and wise, paying closer attention to our diets, what we choose to put in our mouths and what we will allow to feed our children.  We need to try our best and choose whole, organic foods when possible.  Are they more expensive?  Yes, but isn’t our health, well being and future generation worthy of feeling healthy, strong and connected?  YES!
  2. Our digestive system is completely out of balance.  New research has now found that our gut is considered our “first brain.”  There is a direct correlation between our brain and our gut and if one is off you better believe the other is suffering as well.  Prime example:  I’ve struggled with digestive issues for as long as I can remember.  They became more prevalent the day I began starving myself at 19 as I stopped producing proper enzymes and it’s been a real journey since then.  My gut has never been the same.  I have issues with gluten, dairy, wheat, soy, sugar, processed foods, histamine foods (salmon, avocado, strawberries, grapefruit.)  I’m constantly having to tune into what triggers my body to have an adverse reaction to the foods I eat.  I know instantaneously when I eat something that doesn’t agree with me.  I become gassy, incredibly bloated, constipated, sleepy and I experience major brain fog.  I also have symptoms of depression, anxiety, sadness and some weepiness.  It goes with the territory and I know it sounds crazy but it’s so true.  Not only does my gut responses effect my brain but my hormones, serotoin, dopamine and neurotransmitter production.  Can you see the pattern here?  If my gut is off there’s no way my brain is going to produce the happy transmitters, instead I feel like shit, I get depressed and I want to sleep all day.  As you can see, depression is a symptom.  It’s important to note we all need healthy bacteria to keep our gut flora responding properly.  Foods that assist with this include anything fermented and pickled.  Sauerkraut, cabbage, pickled veggies, Kombutcha’s and probiotics are great forms of healthy bacteria our tummies need desperately.
  3. We lack vitamin D, B and Omega’s.  75% of the population is deficient in Vitamin D due to the lack of sunshine we get along with the amount of sunscreen we apply.  Our bodies and brains need this vital nutrient for numerous reasons including: immune support, mood enhancement, strong bones and a healthy well being.  Think about it, how much better do we feel when we stand outside in the sunshine right?  B vitamins are also incredibly important for energy production, metabolism, brain function and help convert our food into fuel.  Sure, we can take a B-Complex but I highly suggest getting the majority of our B’s from foods such as: nuts, seeds, green veggies, beans, spinach, kale, rice, eggs, milk, yogurt, wheat germ, etc.  Omega 3 fatty acids is something our bodies cannot make on their own and we desperately need them.  Research has proven time and time again that Omega’s are a terrific support for depression like symptoms and help our brains more than we could ever imagine.  Omega 3 is terrific for brain function, cognitive abilities, depression, anxiety, mood stabilization, strong hair and nails and the list goes on.  Salmon, seeds, nuts, and avocados are a fantastic addition to any person’s diet.  You can also get high quality fish oil at any local health food store.  I find the oil works better than the pills.

So, before embarking on the journey of the anti depressant pill try these top 3 things first to see if your depression symptoms subside.  Don’t forget how wonderful exercise is for your brain and heart as well!  You don’t have to go crazy with it, even 20 minutes a day makes a world of a difference in our moods and overall well-being!

Again, change your diet, make sure your gut is functioning at optimal levels, get in proper supplementation and exercise in the sunshine!

Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns about this topic!  I’m very interested in all of this and desperately want everyone to be their best selves.  If you’re looking for more tips on health, wellness and fitness please get on my email list at www.kimschaper.com and you will get exclusive access to tons of great content!