Could Coffee Be Making You Depressed?

Depression is the most common emotional disorder. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, over 28% of all Americans suffer from some type of mental disorder severe enough to require psychiatric treatment. Incidences of depression and suicide are also rapidly increasing, especially among children and adolescents.

Until recently, most mental disorders were considered either psychological or genetically predisposed. Today, however, it is recognized that numerous factors can contribute to the onset of mental disorders, especially depression.

Depression may have a psychological basis, such as suppressed anger, grief, loss, loneliness, mental strain, or disappointment, or a physiological basis, such as, drug induced, hypothyroidism, nutrient deficiencies, excessive consumption of methylxanthines (i.e. caffeine or chocolate), excessive consumption of simple sugars, or an imbalance in brain chemicals. Both the emotional and physiological causes of depression must be considered when deciding on a treatment.

Because there are many different causes of depression, there are many different ways to go about treating it. Therefore, the first step in treatment is trying to find a psychological cause. Have there been any big changes in your life in the past year? Even events that are typically viewed as happy, like marriage and the birth of a baby, can cause such stress that depression develops. If there does not seem to be a psychological cause, or the treatment involved will take a long time and you are looking for some symptomatic support, your physician will need to do some tests and look for various imbalances.

One of the most overlooked causes of depression, especially in children, is food sensitivities. Foods may cause many mental and behavioral symptoms by a variety of different mechanisms including cerebral allergy, food addictions, low blood sugar, high insulin, too much caffeine, and hypersensitivity to chemical food additives, to name a few.

Common symptoms to look for in children are: bedwetting, chronic ear infections, eczema or hives, hyperactivity or erratic behavior, or trouble concentrating. As you can see, some of the same symptoms children are being given Ritalin and Prozac for, may simply be a result of something they are eating.

Lastly, your naturopathic physician may be able to prescribe a homeopathic remedy that would not only address your mental and emotional state but your physical symptoms as well. The most common remedies for depression are: 1) Aurum metallicum – despairing depression, commonly caused by a failure of some sort, 2) Kali phosphoricum – anxiety, nervous dread, 3) Lachesis – depressed and suspicious, 4) Natrum muriaticum – quietly and deeply depressed, 5) Pulsatilla nigricans – feels lonely and wants company, and 6) Sepia – depressed and irritable.

Twenty years ago, approximately 25% of all Americans reported to have suffered from depression at one time or another during their lifetime. Today, those numbers have almost doubled due to the stresses incurred in trying to keep up with the ever-increasing pace society demands. With today’s advances in nutritional therapy, mind-body medicine, and other alternative therapies, there are now many solutions available for the treatment of depression.

– Elizabeth Grady, N.M.D.

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