Depression Can Be Beaten

Depression can be beaten but not in my opinion by medical drugs.

When I started in Clinical Practice some twenty-one years ago, I might see one new patient a week with depression. It is not uncommon for me now to see ten new patients a week who are on anti-depressant medication and looking for a way out because they are unhappy with results, and even unhappier with the side-effects of the drugs they are taking. I think we can draw a valid parallel between people on anti-depressants and children taking dexamphetamines as a method of controlling hyperactivity. Just because someone is in a chemical straight-jacket and his or her mood is subdued that does not imply cure.

Professor Ian Hickie, clinical adviser to depression support group Beyond Blue, said doctors should investigate a range of alternate treatments before prescribing anti-depressants.

I believe in many instances, regular sessions at a gym are a better method of controlling depression than drug therapy. This is because exercise enhances the production of chemicals in the brain called endorphins that are mood enhancing. An English study followed people on an extremely popular anti-depressant and compared their results with those of people using exercise as a method of controlling their depression. After four months the results from the two groups were similar but after twelve months, there was a striking difference between the two groups. In the group of patients being treated with the anti-depressants, about 30% had relapsed. In the group using exercise to control their depression 92% were still doing well.


After World War II, the path of depression took a major turn for the worse. This correlates with the appearance in supermarkets of vegetable cooking oils. Vegetable cooking oils contain something called Omega 6 fatty acids. Vegetable cooking oils are much loved by fast food outlets so after the mid 1950's, the consumption of Omega 6's skyrocketed around the world and so did depression. There are basically two types of what are termed 'essential fatty acids' - 3's and 6's. Omega 3's are found in fish, algae, leaves and grasses. In many areas cattle are now fed grains rather than grass so this further skews the balance in favour of omega 6 over omega 3. In the western world the consumption of omega 6 to omega 3 is now a disastrous 20:1 and EXCESS OMEGA 6 CONSUMPTION LEADS TO INFLAMMATION. If we look back at the origins of mankind as hunter-gathers it is clear that early humans would have had an almost perfect balance between the two essential fatty acids giving the brain the perfect chemistry to do its work. As man has developed and produced machines to extract oil from seeds, I think he has unwittingly produced something that can damage brain chemistry and give rise to depression.

It is a fact that most of the prevalent diseases of the Western World; Arthritis, Some Cancers, Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimers, Coronary Artery Disease are exacerbated by inflammatory responses. It is also a fact that in countries where the incidence of Heart Disease is high so too is depression. I think the platform of the two diseases has at least one similar plank - Inflammation.

I tell any patient who comes to me with depression that the only two oils for them are pure virgin olive oil in dark glass bottles and flaxseed oil. Flaxseed is at least 50% Omega 3 and Olive Oil is low in Omega 6.

People with depression should also cut out of their diet all hydrogenated fats. Hydrogenated fats are dangerous substances that promote inflammation. These fats extend shelf life and give things like French fries that characteristic crispness.

People with depression often have high homocysteine levels and this can be a greater clinical marker for heart disease than certain types of cholesterol. In my view all people with depression should have their homocysteine levels regularly monitored.

I have found that many folk who come to me with depression have a deficiency in an enzyme called methionine-adenysl-transferase. This substance is important to the synthesis and turnover in the brain of serotonin, melatonin, and dopamine.

Another very useful tool in the fight against depression in my clinics is Herbal Medicine.

DISCLAIMER: This information is of a general nature only. As each person reacts differently, the information must not be acted upon without a face to face consultation with your chosen Health Practitioner.

Stephen Zemek ND BN

To make an appointment at either my Brisbane or Sunshine Coast Clinic, please telephone +61 4 2878 9103.

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