Depression in men is one of the most common problems in aging. Let’s take a look at this problem, and how you can address it with natural antiaging strategies like diet and exercise. I will also discuss the role nutritional supplements and hormonal management can play.
We will explore the relationship between diet and depression, and also exercise and depression, and show how each has a positive role to play in alleviating it. For those women reading this, please don’t feel slighted, as I will be doing a page on women and depression very soon.
What is Depression?
Depression is defined as a type of mental illness or mood disorder where an individual has any or all of the following symptoms that persist over a long period of time:
Most people in a depressed state are suffering from what is called “sub-clinical depression,” which means it is not bad enough to require medical treatment, however, it should not be allowed to become a chronic condition. Depression in men represents a diminished capacity to function mentally and emotionally, affecting the quality of life.
Diet and Depression
Nutrition is intimately linked with brain function, and the neurophysiology of mood and emotions. The critical areas of nutrition are essential fatty acids, B-vitamins and minerals. Thus a diet lacking in these can contribute to a state of depression in men.
The first step for an individual that is depressed is to evaluate their diet in terms of several factors:
Blood typing will tell you which foods have problem interactions with your immune system and should be avoided. Metabolic typing will indicate the proper ratios of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates you as a unique individual need for optimal health.
Eliminate processed foods as much as possible. Trans fats, which result from hydrogenation, cannot be properly used by the body and brain and should be avoided. The brain is actually made up of fatty acids and thus requires the right fats to work properly. Trans fats can damage the brain and disrupt brain function.
Processed sugars are carbs, which cause problems with blood sugar management and can cause mood swings as blood sugar rapidly rises and falls, as opposed to maintaining an even blood sugar level. Wild blood sugar fluctuations create havoc with brain chemicals like serotonin and dopamine, which in turn affect mood and emotions.
The relationship between diet and depression is critical, so you should try to make your diet as nutritionally complete as possible. Unprocessed foods, and an array of healthy fruits, vegetables, fats, carbs, and proteins should be included to help prevent depression in men.
Exercise and Depression
Proper exercise has a positive effect on all body functions including the brain, and for this reason is essential for mental and emotional health. Exercise helps in two ways, by helping keep blood sugar stable, and by keeping hormones closer to optimal levels.
Strength training builds lean muscle, which takes up glucose and thus makes it easier to maintain stable sugar levels. It also stimulates the release of hormones such as growth hormone and testosterone, both of which are critical to proper function of the brain and nervous system.
Cardiovascular exercise can help brain function by increasing the ability of the blood to transfer oxygen, which is critical to the brain. Cardiovascular exercise also released endorphins, which can improve mood and create a positive state of mind.
The relationship between exercise and depression is such that exercise exerts a positive effect on mental and emotional health, thus making depression in men who exercise much less likely.
Since hormones exert such a powerful effect on the brain and it’s functions, it is critical to ensure that your hormonal status is as close top optimal as possible. As men age, it is typical to see declines in the levels of their anabolic hormones such as testosterone and growth hormone.
This can cause significant problems with their mental and physical functioning. Also, in modern times, things like environment estrogens can cause declines in testosterone and thus help bring on states of depression in men as this hormone declines significantly.
An antiaging practitioner can through blood tests determine hormonal status and if natural approaches like diet and exercise are not enough to optimize hormones, bio-identical hormone therapy can help in this area, when administered by a knowledgeable antiaging physician.
Steps to Take
If you show any of the symptoms of depression however mild, and they persist, then take the following steps, and start with leveraging the relationship between diet and depression and exercise and depression as an effective first step.
If you are sub-clinically depressed these steps should be sufficient to help you achieve a better mental and emotional outlook through enhanced functioning of your brain and nervous system.
If the depression is more severe and changes in diet, exercise, and sleep are not sufficient to alleviate the depressed state, then you should definitely seek treatment by a competent professional who specializes in treating depression in men.