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Help! I’m in a Lousy Mood

Natural Boosts for Depression

On a recent episode of THE TONIC, Dr. Emily Lipinski ND and Tonic Publisher, Jamie Bussin,  discussed the natural ways in which you can improve your mood. This is a digest of their interview (which can be listened to or downloaded as a podcast at thetonic.ca).


Q. What makes us sad?

A. There’s a whole myriad of factors that contribute to both depression and anxiety which are interrelated. It could be hormonal. There’s genetic predisposition. There are side effects from medications. It could be a change in light. As people age a big factor is loneliness and change in relationships. A big part of sadness is loss of, or change in, relationships.


Q. How do you feel about antidepressants?

A. About 30-40% of Canadians have taken antidepressants at some point in their life to help with this issue. Medication can work.  Unfortunately, it’s not as effective as we’d love it to be. After being on antidepressants for a number of years, many people find themselves dipping back into depression. It might be time for a new prescription, or for adjunctive solutions -changes in exercise and diet that might help that medication work better.


Q. Does exercise help?

A. There is research showing that exercise is as effective, or more effective than fluoxetine (Prozac), even better when exercise and antidepressants are combined. The hippocampus, the part of your brain which is responsible for mood stabilization, shrinks when you’re depressed, but exercise stimulates its growth.


Q. Can diet help your mood?

A. Yes. Trans-fats aren’t great for depression. Same with too much sugar. Foods that are better for the mood are Omega Fatty Acids from fish or chia seeds and  foods high in folic acid like dark leafy greens. Lots of bright colourful vegetables.


Q. What about supplements?

A.You have to be careful with contraindications with antidepressants, and should consult a health care provider first, before taking supplements. St. John’s Wort has been used for years for anxiety and depression. 5HTP, which is a precursor to make serotonin, can be beneficial for people. Or something simple like B Vitamins. What people don’t consider is protein supplements. Serotonin is made of amino acids, which are proteins. You need this in order for the body to make these feel-good neurotransmitters like serotonin.


Q. Do you think that mindfulness or meditation work?

A. A lot of my patients tell me that meditation is difficult, particularly if they’re anxious. But mindfulness has a lot of benefits for those with anxiety. It teaches the brain to not respond or detach from negative thoughts. People tend to sleep better and can even experience weight loss. But people have to decide to work at it if they’re going to try mindfulness.


Dr. Emily Lipinski, ND addresses the root cause of a medical issue using natural therapies such as diet, lifestyle and herbs either alone or in conjunction with western medicine. Find her at www.emilylipinski.com