Nutritional ways to fight depression

As all mothers know, having children is an immense joy, but also very hard work. Before you give birth, you transfer a large supply of zinc to your baby, and if your reserves weren’t that good, it’s likely that you are now deficient. PHOTO | FILE

What you need to know:

  • Zinc deficiency can also result in depression. Before you give birth, you transfer a large supply of zinc to your baby, and if your reserves weren’t that good, it’s likely that you are now deficient. This is especially true if the labour was long and difficult or if you’ve had a Caesarean.
  • The other common deficiency in women with post-natal depression is essential fats. The reason they’re called “essential” is because our bodies cannot make them from any other substance – and this means you can only get them from what you eat.

I stumbled upon an article the other day, which talked about Prince William and his efforts to destigmatise mental health.

He has launched the ‘Heads Together’ campaign in the UK, along with the Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry. He has called for honesty, urging those struggling with their mental health to tell someone about it, saying that “silence can kill.”

While I have treated conditions from anxiety and schizophrenia to bipolar and depression, today it’s my own journey I’d like to talk about. I battled a particularly bad spell of depression about 15 years ago, but more recently, after the birth of Baby Number Three.

As all mothers know, having children is an immense joy, but also very hard work, and rather than the baby blues which are to be expected as post-natal hormones normalise, I became a statistic – one of the 15 per cent of new mothers who experiences post-natal depression.

COMMON DEFICIENCIES

I was told that mild post-natal depression can be helped by getting more sleep, getting out of the house away from the baby and talking about my feelings. But in addition to these psychological components, there were chemical and hormonal factors too.

Some women’s bodies are slow to make progesterone, and post-natal depression is often caused by the sudden fall in progesterone levels just before giving birth. As I’ve seen with my patients, the herb agnus castus can be very useful here by helping to rebalance the hormones and can be safely taken even if you are breast-feeding.

Zinc deficiency can also result in depression. Before you give birth, you transfer a large supply of zinc to your baby, and if your reserves weren’t that good, it’s likely that you are now deficient. This is especially true if the labour was long and difficult or if you’ve had a Caesarean. Foods rich in zinc include spinach (pictured) but I chose to take 15mg of zinc twice a day.

The other common deficiency in women with post-natal depression is essential fats. The reason they’re called “essential” is because our bodies cannot make them from any other substance – and this means you can only get them from what you eat (I took up to 3g each of EPA and DHA daily – these are the active components in fish oils).

The other thing that helped me enormously was carrying my baby all the time in a sling (exhausting, but great for oxytocin release), breastfeeding on demand (more oxytocin) and walking for an hour in the sun every day (with baby of course!).

Welcome!

You're all set to enjoy unlimited Prime content.