Ask The Diva: Depression and Low Energy
Recently I asked my tribe to submit questions and feedback. I’m happy to say I got a fantastic response! I will be using these questions for a new post type here at The Hormone Diva: Ask The Diva! You can feel free to submit your questions to me here.
Question: What can I do about depression and low energy?
Depression and other mood disorders are tricky. They result from a chemical imbalance that keeps us down in the dumps and chronically fatigued or without energy. I suffered with depression for many years, being on and off anti-depressants, and in and out of talk therapy. It wasn’t until I committed to changing my life with the tricks below that I really saw my mood soar.
See below for 3 tricks you can use to help bring some pep + sunshine to your life!
Did you know that the majority of serotonin (our happy chemical) is made in the gut? So what you eat definitely matters when it comes to raising your moods. Make sure to eat regularly throughout the day, at least 3 meals, but up to an additional 3 snacks as well. Your meals should have a good source of protein, some carb and LOTS of fat. Yes- eating lots of fat is a MUST when it comes to mood balancing.
Fat helps your mood for a few reasons. First, it balances your blood sugar by sustaining your energy over many hours. One of the main symptoms of low or imbalanced blood sugar is mood problems. Second, the right types of fats provide you with Vitamin D (egg yolks, butter, meats, etc), an essential nutrient for mood, as well as EPA + DHA (in fish and seeds like flax or chia), essential fatty acids proven in study after study to balance mood.
The other major component to a Mood-Food Diet is probiotic or fermented foods. Fermented foods contain billions of tiny organisms, called probiotics, or “good” bacteria. They help our gut create serotonin, and digest + assimilate mood-boosting nutrients like B Vitamins. It’s important to have some with every meal. You can see examples of these foods in the sample menu below.
What does that look like? Here is a sample day:
Breakfast: Smoothie with whole milk yogurt, coconut oil, a few berries or other fruit, raw egg yolks (from a trusted free-run source, only!) or hemp seeds.
Lunch: Bowl of mixed greens with salmon, walnuts, raw cheddar or goat cheese, water kefir or kombucha to drink.
Dinner: Roasted chicken or beef, steamed broccoli with butter, brown rice (soaked overnight before cooking) or sourdough bread, raw sauerkraut
Snacks: Raw cheddar, nut butter or hummus with sprouted grain or grain-free crackers, smoothie, boiled eggs, nuts and seeds, fruit, home-baked sprouted or soaked grain muffins
If you have a mood disorder and aren’t exercising regularly or keeping very active, you need to address this. Even a short workout will do it because exercise improves our levels of serotonin, that feel-good chemical we keep coming back to. Why does this work? When we exercise, our muscles amino acids (components of protein). Our bloodstream provides the amino acids to our muscles- save one- Tryptophan. This amino acid then gets a free ride past the blood-brain barrier so it can be converted to serotonin quickly and easily. Exercise also increases our oxygen supply- another crucial catalyst for serotonin production.
What to try? Get outside for a walk, jog or bike ride. Enjoy the sunshine and fresh air while moving your body. You could also try yoga, a great activity for mood-boosting, de-stressing and NOT draining all of your energy. Start slow, maybe 20 minutes a few times a week, and increase as your moods and energy improve!
3. Stress Management
Stress is a constant in our modern lives, and many of us are depressed and exhausted as a result. Managing stress takes time, as you must discover what activites help YOU feel peaceful and calm. For me, it’s lavender essential oil, getting outside, doing yoga, having some Earl Grey tea and feeling cozy. Try any or all of these activities and more- and don’t forget to schedule it in! Make sure you have time every single day for some relaxation and reflection.
Erasmus, U. (1993). Fats That Heal, Fats That Kill. Summertown: Alive Books.
Ross, J. (2002). The Mood Cure. New York: Penguin Group.