Somewhere around seven percent of the US population, or about seventeen million American adults, suffer from depression each year. Depression may occur only once, but for some, depression typically occurs in episodes where stressful symptoms can persist for days or weeks at a time. These symptoms may include, but are not limited to:
Not only does depression cause a host of emotional problems, but many physical symptoms or ailments as well. One such issue observed is adults suffering from depression is an increased risk of developing heart disease. This can be further complicated by excessive weight gain, sometimes caused by an increase in cravings while depressed. Depression may also lead some down a road to alcohol or drug abuse, which then only worsens the symptoms of depression in a vicious cycle. Those suffering from depression may withdraw from social situations with friends and family and isolate themselves. Additionally, many with depression also develop anxiety or panic disorders.
It’s important to note that anxiety disorders take many different forms, such as Agoraphobia (a tendency to avoid situations that may cause you to feel panic), or Social Anxiety Disorder. Most anxiety disorders share some common symptoms, such as: feeling restless or nervous, a sense of impending doom, increased heart rate and breathing, or gastrointestinal problems.
There are many different treatments for anxiety and depression, but many who live with them will find that they suffer from treatment-resistant forms of these mental disorders. While SSRIs and other antidepressants may take weeks at a time before the effects start to become noticeable, there are quite a few options that can help relieve your depression and anxiety, sometimes within hours.
An innovative new treatment option, Ketamine is an FDA-approved anesthetic that has been found to provide rapid relief from depression and anxiety when infused at a low dose. Research indicates that Ketamine stimulates the regrowth of synapses within the brain that can be damaged after long periods of anxiety or depression, essentially rewiring the parts of the brain that may be causing distress. Available as an infusion, some researchers maintain as high as a 75% success rate when treating those suffering from depression or anxiety.
Serotonin, known by its scientific name 5-hydroxytryptamine, is a chemical messenger used throughout the brain and blood vessels to transmit messages between nerve cells. While it has many uses in the human body, it is thought to play an important role in the body’s happiness and overall mood, and also regulates sleep and memory.
It is currently unclear how serotonin may contribute to depression, but there are a number of drugs and medications that alter serotonin levels to treat depression or anxiety. SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) such as fluoxetine (Prozac) or sertraline (Zoloft) are approved by the FDA for the treatment of depression and anxiety.
Fortunately, eating foods that contain tryptophan can boost serotonin levels in your brain. Research into tryptophan has shown that serotonin levels drop when practicing a diet low in tryptophan. Foods that can increase tryptophan or serotonin levels include:
Eggs. Egg yolks are rich in tryptophan, and other nutrients good for the human body, such as protein or omega-3 fatty acids.
Cheese/Milk. Milk can also provide calcium, which strengthens bones and teeth.
Nuts/Seeds. All nuts and seeds have been found to contain tryptophan. Eating just a handful of nuts once a day may also lower your risk for cancer or heart disease.
Salmon. Salmon is also a strong source of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin-D. Eating just two portions of oily fish a week provides enough tryptophan for most people.
Like the foods listed above, sunlight itself is a great source of serotonin. Research has shown a link between decreased sun exposure and dropping serotonin levels.
A modest amount of direct sunlight can boost the body’s Vitamin D levels and can decrease the risks of cancer.
Fortunately, for those suffering from Agoraphobia, they also have options to avoid triggering any episodes. They can simply buy a lightbox and participate in what’s known as phototherapy. The lightbox simulates natural sunlight to increase serotonin levels in the brain.
While immediate relief is usually not possible with meditation, habitual meditation not only reduces thoughts of depression and anxiety but also allows a person to practice how they react to stress and anxiety.
Research shows that the medial prefrontal cortex (the mPFC) is a key part of how the brain processes anxiety depression. Often referred to as the “Me Center” of the brain, the mPFC is where information about the self is processed. When stressed, the mPFC becomes hyperactive. The amygdala, the part of the brain that is responsible for the fight-or-flight response, often works in tandem with the mPFC to spike the stress hormone cortisol.
Meditation has been found to help break down the connection between the mPFC and the amygdala, which allows a person to better control the stress and anxiety one may be feeling.
A 2019 study performed by the National Center for Biotechnology Information suggests that the caffeine from tea and coffee may disrupt important neurotransmitters like dopamine. For those with depression, drop-in dopamine can lower motivation and increase the craving for stimulants.
A heavy intake of caffeine often results in unpleasant side effects such as anxiety, headaches, an increase in blood pressure, or nausea. These symptoms may only further exacerbate depression and anxiety. However, while it is advisable to avoid caffeine, if it is already part of your routine, removing it completely may have more harmful side effects than benefits. In this case, start lowering the amount of caffeine you consume in increments until you reach a level that suits your needs.
If you or a loved one is suffering from depression and/or anxiety and has questions about Ketamine treatment, we invite you to call us and schedule a free phone consultation to decide if Ketamine infusion therapy for depression is right for you. Contact: (956) 335-0250