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DEPRESSION

FOODS THAT HARM

Aged cheeses and other foods and drinks that contain tyramine, if you are taking MAO inhibitors

FOODS THAT HEAL

  • Turkey
  • Almonds and other nuts
  • Pumpkin seeds and other seeds
  • Watercress and other green leafy vegetables
  • Lentils and other beans
  • Whole grains
  • Bananas
  • Potatoes
  • Corn
  • Asparagus
  • Peas

    FOODS TO LIMIT

    Sugary foods, such as cookies and soft drinks

    WHO’S AFFECTED

  • 9.5% of American adults age 18 and older
  • 5.3% of the Canadian population age 15 and over
  • Women are 70% more likely than men to experience depression during their lifetime
  • People with Parkinson’s disease, stroke, arthritis, thyroid disorders, cancer, and other chronic conditions Depression is a serious disorder, possibly caused by stress, hormones, certain medical conditions or medications
    It can strike out of the blue and—for more fortunate sufferers—can disappear just as mysteriously
    One classic sign of depression is a dramatic change in eating patterns
    Some people lose all desire to eat; others develop voracious appetites, especially for carbohydrates
    People with depression typically have little energy
    Other signs of depression include an unshakable feeling of sadness, inability to experience pleasure, insomnia, excessive sleepiness, inability to concentrate, and indecisiveness
    Feelings of worthlessness or guilt may be accompanied by recurrent thoughts of death
    Anyone who has some or all of these symptoms nearly every day for more than two weeks may be suffering from major depression
    People over the age of 65 are four times more likely to suffer from depression than younger people; however, elderly sufferers do not always exhibit the classic signs
    Instead, they may show signs of dementia, complain of aches and pains, or appear agitated, anxious, or irritable

    Nutrition Connection

    People with depression often eat irregularly
    However, eating the right foods can help stabilize mood
    Here are some nutritional guidelines: Turn to tryptophan
    Found in turkey, almonds, pumpkin seeds, and watercress, this amino acid is needed to make the mood-critical neurotransmitter serotonin
    Research indicates that tryptophan can help induce sleep and may play a role in treating certain types of depression
    Tryptophan supplements are banned in the US and Canada due to deaths in the 1980s
    Eat beans
    Meals that are especially rich in carbohydrates have been associated with relaxation
    These foods allow tryptophan to be converted into serotonin
    Beans not only supply complex carbs, they also pack in plenty of protein without a lot of fat
    Limit sugar consumption
    When sugar-sensitive people eat large quantities of sweets, they may experience an energetic “high” followed by a “low” with weakness and “jitters” when the sugar is metabolized
    Get a lot more B vitamins
    Vitamins B6 and B12 and folate may help certain forms of depression
    Vitamin B6 has been shown to provide some relief to women suffering from PMS-related depression
    B6 sources are meat, fish, poultry, whole grains, bananas, and potatoes
    Other research has found that many depressed people are deficient in folate and B12
    Folate is found in green leafy vegetables, orange juice, lentils, corn, asparagus, peas, nuts, and seeds
    B12 is found in all animal foods and fortified soy and rice beverages
    Add omega-3 fatty acids
    Seek sources such as salmon, trout, mackerel, and flaxseed
    Studies have shown that rates of depression are lower in countries where lots of fish is consumed and higher in countries where little fish is eaten
    Fish oil supplements may help, but consult your doctor before taking them
    Balance side effects of medication
    Tricyclic antidepressants, which can cause weight gain, include imipramine (Tofranil), amitriptyline (Elavil), and nortriptyline (Pamelor)
    If you are overweight to begin with, or gain weight while taking any of these drugs, ask your doctor to suggest an alternative

    Beyond the Diet

    Depression can be life threatening
    These recommendations can help treat it as quickly as possible: Adopt healthy sleep habits
    The onset of depression is predicted by insomnia; it usually accompanies it and is usually the last symptom to disappear
    Set a regular sleep schedule of 7 to 9 hours per night

    FOOD-DRUG INTERACTION

    If you are taking an antidepressant drug in the class called monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors, such as phenelzine (Nardil) and tranylcypromine (Parnate), your blood pressure could rise dangerously when you eat foods rich in the amino acid tyramine
    Tyramines are found in protein- rich foods that have been aged, dried, fermented, pickled or bacterially treated, such as aged cheeses, pickled, or smoked fish, tofu or soy, bananas, gravies and sauces containing meat extracts, and champagne
    Alcohol should be avoided
    Coffee, tea, colas, chocolate, yeast, yeast extracts (such as marmite and sourdough bread), fava beans, and ginseng contain small amounts of tyramine but are generally safe enough if taken only occasionally and in small amounts
    Consult a physician
    Doctors can help address persistent thoughts or feelings associated with depression
    It may be a result of an illness, such as sleep apnea, or side effects of medications, including beta-blockers digoxin, corticosteroids, antihistamines, and oral contraceptives
    Think beyond antidepressants
    Along with antidepressants, doctors usually suggest cognitive behavioral therapy and interpersonal psychotherapy