3 Unconventional Ways To Beat Depression

3 Unconventional Ways To Beat Depression

If you are depressed, there’s a good chance your doctor will prescribe you a pill before suggesting you try changing your lifestyle.

Because, the truth is, doctors are trained to diagnose diseases and to treat them will medication. 

They know very little about nutrition, exercise, or alternative (non-pharmaceutical) therapies. 

However, lots of us are now realising this, and it’s leading us to do our own research and take responsibility for own health. 

With that in mind, here are three ways to beat depression that your doctor will probably never mention to you…

  1. Dancing 

A study was published last week that found dancing to be more effective than antidepressants and other types of exercise at reducing depressive symptoms. 

The large systematic review and meta-analysis (which included 14,170 participants) showed that structured dancing improves emotional well-being, depression, motivation, and cognitive functions such as memory, across all age groups and even in individuals with chronic diseases.

Structured dancing means the participants were learning a particular type of dance, rather than just freestylin' around their house in their underpants (my favourite type of dance).

“Learning dance sequences may challenge cognition, partnered or group dance may benefit social interactions, and the artistic aspect may improve psychological well-being,” said lead author Dr. Alycia Fong Yan.

“Adherence to physical activity is an ongoing challenge in clinical trials and even more so in community. Dance can provide an enjoyable physical activity that is easier to maintain.”

Behind dancing, walking or jogging, yoga, and strength training were more effective than other exercises, particularly when intense. 

  1. Psychedelics

Although illegal, there is a growing number of studies showing that psychedelics like psilocybin (from certain “magic” mushrooms), LSD (derived from the ergot fungus) and DMT (the main psychotropic compound in Ayahuasca) are effective treatments for a range of mental illnesses, including depression.

Many psychedelic drugs stimulate a serotonin receptor in the brain – the 5-HT2A receptor - and enhance connectivity in certain brain regions and produce profound psychedlic effects.

Remarkably, this short-term disruption of brain function can lead to long-term changes in attitude to past traumas and powerful mental health benefits.

In fact, just a single dose of psilocybin has been shown to produce a powerful improvements in mood in depressed people. And this effect is long-lasting, with some patients showing no sign of depression returning years later. 

Several companies have even been able to take psilocybin or other psychedelics to market for depression and other mental health disorders.

But it’s not just depression. 

Psychedelics’ potential extends to treating disorders like anorexia nervosa, OCD, addiction, and chronic pain syndromes.

This is because, despite different symptoms, these disorders share repetitive thinking patterns known as rumination.

Psychedelics like psilocybin can disrupt these repetitive thought loops, offering relief and opening minds to more positive thoughts and activities. 

As shown in brain imaging studies, psilocybin acts on the cortex to make it more flexible, specifically helping patients change their thinking patterns.

  1. Ketogenic diet

The ketogenic diet has long been known for its use in treatment-resistant epilepsy, but attention is now turning to its potential benefits in mental illness as well.

Defined by high-fat, moderate-protein, and low-carbohydrate intake, the ketogenic diet is designed to significantly reduce carbohydrate intake, which leads to lower and more stable blood sugar levels. 

A 2022 study analysed patients with severe and persistent mental illness (major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, and schizoaffective disorder), who had been admitted to a psychiatric hospital and placed on a ketogenic diet as an adjunct to conventional care.

Although three patients were unable to adhere to the diet for more than 14 days, the researchers concluded that the ketogenic diet was "associated with significant and substantial improvements in depression and psychosis symptoms and multiple markers of metabolic health."

In fact, more than 40% of patients experienced remission from their diagnosis, and 64% reduced their medication.

While there isn’t loads of research on the mental health effects of the keto diet, it is growing, with a number of trials currently ongoing. 

Read: This Diet Will Improve Your Mental Health

New understanding of mental health

What ties these three interventions together is a new theory of mental health.  

You see, modern researchers are taking a holistic look at health and realising that all mental health conditions are symptoms of metabolic brain disorders - meaning that they are characterised by imbalances in the way that the brain uses and processes energy. 

These imbalances can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetics, environmental influences, and lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise.

Metabolic brain disorders can affect a wide range of brain functions, including cognition, mood, and behaviour, leading to neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, as well as mental health conditions like depression, addiction and OCD.

This theory also helps gives a unified explanation as to why the consumption of mushrooms, which is associated with improving many aspects of metabolic health, is so good for us

If you’re interested in this revolutionary theory of mental health, I recommend the book Brain Energy by Dr Chris Palmer. 

If you’re interested in high-quality mushroom extracts, check out our range here.  

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