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 10 Tips for Preventing & Treating Mild or Moderate Depression  
The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Staying Healthy Tips by . View all columns in series
  1. Keep a positive attitude toward life. Challenges are opportunities to improve your life. Learn to turn negatives into positives. Look up (not down) at life, and gather the enthusiasm you can.
  2. Create a regular exercise program that includes stretching, weights, and aerobic activity. Research has shown that exercise improves hormonal balance and helps to relieve depression.
  3. Find ways to access and talk about your feelings and frustrations with friends or loved ones. If that is not easily available or if you are hesitant to "air out" your personal issues, find a compatible counselor.
  4. Eat a wholesome and balanced diet, because having all the right nutrients--vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and essential fatty acids--supports your mental, physical, and emotional health.
  5. Take a regular multivitamin-mineral appropriate to your needs to insure adequate levels of all of your required nutrients.
  6. Avoid any regular use of substances that may alter your moods. This includes sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and many food additives, such as synthetic food colorings and flavorings, MSG, aspartame, and others.
  7. Also, watch out for food reactions that can affect your mood and energy from such foods as sugar, wheat products, and cow's milk.
  8. Try natural remedies that are known to help with depression, which might include St. John' s Wort (300mg,  3-times daily) or SAMe (200-400mg, 2-times daily).
  9. If those do not work adequately, try the anti-depressant amino acids, such as L-tryptophan (500-1,000mg at night, and available through compounding pharmacies with a doctor' s prescription) or its variant 5-HTP (50-100mg at night). Both of these improve serotonin levels, which helps with sleep and feeling positive. L-tyrosine is another more energizing, anti-depressant amino acid, and 500-1,000 mg can be taken in the morning as well as after lunch. Phenylalanine, another amino acid, has also been shown to improve depression.
  10. If all this doesn't work – if the depression is severe or chronic – consult with a psychiatrist or therapist, and consider an anti-depressant medication. Another option is to be evaluated by an orthomolecular psychiatrist or a physician with in-depth training in vitamin therapy. Chemical and nutrient imbalances in the body, which often cause depression, can be influenced and improved through nutrient therapy.
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 About The Author
Elson M. Haas, MD is founder & Director of the Preventive Medical Center of Marin (since 1984), an Integrated Health Care Facility in San Rafael, CA and author of many books on Health and Nutrition, including ...moreElson Haas MD
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