Dealing With Depression

"There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root."  Henry David Thoreau

An industry has been built around dealing with depression.  This list includes different types of products and services that are all interconnected in some way to treating the symptoms.  Included in those industries:

* Counseling

* Drugs

* Institutional care

There have been volumes written about the best ways to deal with depression.  Countless studies have been conducted to explore methods of counteracting the effects of anxiety, despondency and pent up rage that often explodes into violence.

A History Of Young Aggression

When we think of these events in terms of dealing with depression, one commonality is present.  Descriptions of being "a loner."  In some cases we hear of bullying or of solitude.  But most of the time it is that bleak outlook and gloom in which the personalities are described.

* Columbine High School: Two students killed 13 people.  USA Today called it a "suicidal attack [that was] planned as a grand-if badly implemented-terrorist bombing."  One of the assailants, Eric Harris was first prescribed the antidepressant Zoloft, then he was switched to Luvox, which is a similar drug.  Both students killed themselves during this rampage.

* Aurora Colorado theater shooting:  James Holmes entered a crowded theater in this city and killed 12 people while injuring 70 others.  During the trial, Holmes' sister testified that her brother had withdrawn from the family during his teenage years.  Holmes father stated that his son was mentally ill.  A point of contention during the trial was whether prescription bottles and immunization records could be presented as evidence.

* Sandy Hook shooting: 20 year old Adam Lanza killed 26 people in an assault at Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut.  Lanza committed suicide as police arrived on the scene.  At a younger age, Lanza was prescribed Celexa, which in another anti-depressant drug.  A report following the massacre stated Lanza had "significant mental health issues that affected his ability to live a normal life and to interact with others, even those to whom he should have been close."

* Youth suicide rates:  According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, suicide is the third leading cause of death among the 15-24 year old age bracket.  The number of those in that group who think about doing so is most likely incalculable.  But it does point to the major underlying problem.

We Need To Focus On Prevention At An Early Age

And then we have the older people who go through these ordeals for decades before finally snapping.  After such a mass killing, we usually hear the same things.  A history of anxiety, withdrawal from personal contact and feelings of rage. And again we are dealing with depression and the damage inflicted upon innocent people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The Role Of The Vagus Nerve

Please stay with me on this page as I tie together the examples in the previous section to powerful methods of dealing with depression issues before they can grow into murder/suicide events.

The vagus nerve is actually two nerves which run along both sides of our body from the brain to the abdomen.  This amazing structure is critical to many of the systems incorporated within our human framework.

* Breathing

* Heart rate

* Digestion

* Sensory information from the ears, voice box, nose and throat

The vagus nerve is a pipeline to the "second brain."  And the connection between the brain and gut microbes are scientific facts.  The term "gut-wrenching" comes from this link.  When we feel nervous or anxious, we get that bad feeling in "the pit of the stomach." 

Both the brain and gut are affected by the release of serotonin.  When working properly, this is what causes you to "feel full" and to stop eating.  When something has interfered with the messaging, that feeling is cut off or over-ridden.

When we face upcoming events that make us nervous, we don't feel like eating because of this sensation.  Think about speaking in public or getting ready for a big test.  Maybe even a ball game.  The link is clear.

Our brain is the most complex organ in our body and is also the most susceptible to stress caused by emotions and diet.  That "second brain area" in our gut contains over 75% of our immune system.  This makes it a target for the same risk factors associated with the brain. 

There are two nervous systems.

* The central nervous system includes our brain and spinal cord

* The enteric nervous system is found in the gastrointestinal tract, including our gut.

The vagus nerve actually sends out more information from the gut to the brain than from the brain back to the gut.  There are some very long, multi-syllable words to describe the process, but the short version is this.  What affects the gut microbes, affects the brain because of the messages passed along the vagus nerve.

The Sugar Connection

There was a book published in 1975 that described a large part of this link to food consumption and depression.  I'll admit that back in 1975, I was probably as much a part of the problem as anyone and certainly no help in creating any solutions.

"The Sugar Blues" by William Duffy highlighted much of what we now realize to be accurate about the sugar addiction that has settled in among most regular food choices.  His writing at that time was, like so many new ideas considered fringe thinking and wasn't given nearly enough credit.  A key part of his book was his suggestion that sugar should be completely eliminated from the diets of mentally ill patients. 

Now we are realizing just how well his book explained the problems.  Sugar opens up a vast flow of chemical reactions that serve as a sort of valve to allow inflammation to develop in our bodies.  All our beneficial bacteria is overrun by very dangerous types that are being fed by this blast of sugar consumption.

Newer research is backing up the words of "The Sugar Blues."  We're learning that sugar forces our body to release too much insulin which can lead to hypoglycemia.  The process then continues as our brain reacts by increasing glutamate production.  Some results include:

“Anxiety, depression, and several pediatric disorders, including autism and hyperactivity, have been linked with gastrointestinal abnormalities."   From a New York Times article

* Panic attacks

* Anxiety

* Flashes of anger

* An increase in the risk of suicide attempts.

How Corporate Interests Have Hampered Dealing With Depression

This is a controversial topic and the next part is the most controversial of all.  But it is truly relevant if we do indeed intend to strike at the root of the cause, rather than the branches.  As I wrote in our series about Alzheimer's disease, it is our duty to do our very best to care for those stricken with this disease.

But it is also our duty to use all means available to prevent the next generation from facing the same health challenges.  The same path is required of us in dealing with depression. 

From the very beginning of life, we bombard our young people with processed foods.  We feed them products tainted with pesticides that promote illness.

Not everyone is affected to the same degree, but the information is clear.  Our processed diets, sugar addiction, and lab-altered ingredients including genetically modified organisms, artificial sweeteners and additives are damaging that vital microbe system that regulates most of our immune system. 

The companies that manufacture soda and high fructose corn syrup know these things.  Mega-corporations that sell genetically modified seeds and the toxic herbicides required to grow the seeds know the real dangers.  Confined animal feeding operations-factory farms- know they are promoting antibiotic resistance that threatens to explode into a huge health crisis.

They know the facts.  But they are in the business of selling their products.  They will state that their role is not to educate the consumer.  You'll usually find these companies closely aligning themselves with "big pharmacy."  They share a mutual need.  Dealing with depression through better food choices isn't part of that mutual need.

Big pharmacy makes massive fortunes on drugs purported to be effective in dealing with depression.  Research into some of the root causes of these conditions points directly back to what we feed our children.  There would be no financial gain for big pharmacy to promote better dietary planning.  It would hurt their bottom line. 

So the carousel continues.  The same processed junk is placed in front of school age kids in lunch rooms.  Soda companies use any method to attract young consumers.  If they hook them early, they keep them for life.  Although in many cases that life is cut short.  No worries.  There are plenty more to follow.

A Better Path

As I've written so often at, it is essential that we as parents become our child's most important teacher.  This includes starting early to give them their very best chance to succeed.  After all, eventually they will either pay the staggering costs of dealing with depression or they will be one who is prescribed the drugs.

A better path is to teach them about nutrition.  Omega 3 foods are excellent choices for gut microbe health.  And for brain health.  Many autoimmune diseases can be averted with the same nutritional pattern.

There is an entire section dedicated to better nutrition and enhanced lifestyle.  You'll find it under the Mediterranean diet button in the left margin

According to Dr. Raphael Kellman, an expert in treating gut microbe, "The microbiome communicates with the brain through a number of mechanisms... These pathways include direct neurotransmitters that the microbiome produces.

It communicates with the brain via the vagus nerve, and also via the endocrine system in the stress pathway-the hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenal axis." 

He continues, "Current treatment for neurological disorders focus on direct changes to brain chemistry, tweaking levels of neurotransmitter chemicals in hopes of tuning in the right balance. But the future of mental health treatment may focus much more on the gut than the brain, and more on food than drugs."

Here is a link with some more information about this brain to gut connection and near the end, another suggestion for foods to protect both brain and gut microbes.

Will we continue to read about young mass murderers who lived for years with depression?  Will we read about their history of prescription drugs that failed?  Will we watch as attempted suicide numbers climb and the legions of solitary, uninvolved young people become adults reliant upon the taxpayers for support?  Will our method of dealing with depression continue to be prescription drugs?  And funerals?

We can debate gun control following every senseless act perpetrated by a depressed or simply evil person.  We can pay for stronger mind-altering drugs that are really band aids on a bigger issue.  We can sit idly by as major food corporations align with big pharmacy and seed/toxic herbicide producers to buy legislation that protects them from telling the truth about what they are doing to our food supply.

We can pay that heavy cost.  Or in dealing with depression, we can attack the root cause rather than the branches.

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Just below is a quote from "Don't Sweat The Small Stuff" by Richard Carlson.  The chapter title is "Open Your Heart To Compassion." 

"Every day we are given hundreds of opportunities to practice compassion in action.  We can learn to be less reactive and live with more patience.

We can smile when others are serious.  We can drive our cars more carefully, pick up litter on the streets, recycle, and reduce our consumption.

We can resolve conflicts rather than create them, and we can become less judgemental and more inclusive.  When someone is aggressive, we can teach them to be more peaceful.  Instead of waiting for an example, we can be the example.

The more compassion that enters your heart, the happier and more peaceful you will become.  By knowing that you are doing your part to create a better world-whatever form that takes-you will fill any void that exists in your life, and you will begin to find the peace you are looking for."

What's New?

Just below is an article from Peter Schiff about passing the buck from one administration to the next.

Owning The Bubble

Just below is a link to look up your congressional representatives.   Let them know you expect accountability.

Congressional Representative Look Up