Gardening improves Depression - and other tips for depression
Article by Angela Haldane
There’s a growing acceptance that maintaining good physical health and spending time outdoors can significantly lower your risk of developing depression in the first place
80 percent of gardeners report being “happy” and satisfied with their lives, compared to 67 percent of non-gardeners; 87 percent of those who garden more than six hours a week report feeling happy, compared to those spending less time in their gardens
100 percent of volunteers interviewed during an outdoor conservation project agreed that participation benefited their mental health, boosted self-esteem and improved confidence
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I find this a handy informative resource I couldn't live without
Gardeners Are Happier than Most Others
The more time spent in the garden, the higher their satisfaction scores—87 percent of those who tend to their gardens for more than six hours a week report feeling happy, compared to those spending less time in their gardens.
Aside from increasing your sense of wellbeing, keeping a garden can also improve your health by providing you with fresher, uncontaminated food, and cutting your grocery bill. And you don’t need vast amounts of space either. You don’t even have to have a backyard. Even apartment dwellers can create a well-stocked edible garden.
You can use virtually every square foot of your space, including your lateral space. Hanging baskets are ideal for a wide variety of foods, such as strawberries, leafy greens, runner beans, pea shoots, tomatoes, and a variety of herbs. And instead of flowers, window boxes can hold herbs, greens, radishes, scallions, bush beans, strawberries, chard, and chiles, for example. Just start small, and as you get the hang of it, add another container of something else. Before you know it, large portions of your meals could come straight from your own edible garden.
Other strategies to treat depression
Optimize Your Gut Flora. Mounting research indicates that the bacterial colonies residing in your gut may play key roles in the development of brain, behavioral and emotional problems—from depression to ADHD, autism and more serious mental illness like schizophrenia. A recent proof-of-concept study found that probiotics (beneficial bacteria) actually altered participants’ brain function11. Compared to the controls, the women who consumed probiotic yogurt had decreased activity in two brain regions that control central processing of emotion and sensation. The implications are particularly significant in our current era of rampant depression and emotional “malaise.”
In a very real sense you have two brains, one inside your skull and one in your gut, and each needs its own vital nourishment. It’s important to realize that you have neurons both in your brain and your gut — including neurons that produce neurotransmitters like serotonin. In fact, the greatest concentration of serotonin, which is involved in mood control, depression and aggression, is found in your intestines, not your brain! Perhaps this is one reason why antidepressants, which raise serotonin levels in your brain, are often ineffective in treating depression, whereas proper dietary changes often help.
Fermented foods are the best route to optimal digestive health, as long as you eat the traditionally made, unpasteurized versions. Some of the beneficial bacteria found in fermented foods are also excellent chelators of heavy metals and pesticides, which will also have a beneficial health effect by reducing your toxic load. Healthy choices include fermented vegetables, lassi (an Indian yoghurt drink, traditionally enjoyed before dinner), fermented milk, such as kefir, and natto (fermented soy). If you do not eat fermented foods on a regular basis, taking a high-quality probiotic supplement is definitely recommended.
Do a Bit of Emotional Housekeeping. It is helpful to view depression as a sign that your body and life are out of balance, rather than as a disease. What you need to do is regain your balance. One of the key ways to do this involves addressing negative emotions that may be trapped beneath your level of awareness. See Natural Ange for Emotional Repolarisation Technique
If you have severe depression, it would be best to consult with a mental health professional.
There are other effective stress-management methods you could try as well, such as meditation, journaling, breathing exercises, yoga, or simply sharing your feelings with a close friend.
Get Regular Exercise. Regular exercise – especially outdoors, is one of the "secret weapons" to overcoming depression. It works by helping to normalize your insulin levels while boosting the "feel good" hormones in your brain.
Improve Your General Nutrition.
Avoiding sugar (particularly fructose) and grains will help normalize your insulin and leptin levels, which is another important aspect of depression. Sugar causes chronic inflammation, which disrupts your body's normal immune function and can wreak havoc on your brain. Sugar also suppresses a key growth hormone called BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor), which promotes healthy brain neurons and plays a vital role in memory. BDNF levels are critically low in people with depression, which animal models suggest may actually be causative.
Vitamin B12 deficiency can contribute to depression and affects one in four people. Those at risk are vegans/ vegetarains, or those with poor absorption – see your naturopath in a consultation.
Sardines and other small oily fish are rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids. This may be the single most important nutrient for optimal brain function, thereby preventing depression. DHA is one of the Omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil, and your brain is highly dependent on it. Low DHA levels have been linked to depression, memory loss, schizophrenia, and Alzheimer's disease.
Sodium deficiency actually creates symptoms that are very much like those of depression. Make sure you do NOT use processed salt (regular table salt), however. You’ll want to use an all natural, unprocessed salt like Himalayan salt, which contains more than 80 different micronutrients.
Let the Sun Shine Down on You. Have you ever noticed how great it can feel to spend time outdoors on a sunny day? Well, it turns out that getting safe sun exposure, which allows your body to produce vitamin D, is great for your mood. One study even found that people with the lowest levels of vitamin D were 11 times more prone to depression than those who received adequate vitamin D.
Strengthening your spiritual faith can be another important aspect of mental and emotional health.
Meeting with family and friends face to face – rather than through screens are also far more satisfying for our personal relationships.