Is One of These Causing Your Depression and Anxiety?

Anxiety and depression can be caused from over worrying and stressful situations or it can be a chronic problem that is caused by an imbalance in the body. I looked into the two main types of imbalances that cause anxiety and depression, serotonin and dopamine deficiencies. Depression and anxiety seem to go hand in hand in most cases. This means that if you have one it is likely that you have some level of the other that is above normal.

In the case of anxiety and depression, an imbalance is caused when the neurotransmitters are too quickly reabsorbed after talking to the nerves to leave things like serotonin and dopamine in your system to be available for your brain to use. To put it simply, the neurotransmitters run out to the nerve with a message, and run right back to where they came from. With the neurotransmitter in hiding, serotonin and dopamine are not available to be absorbed elsewhere in the brain. In order for serotonin or dopamine to be available, the neurotransmitters need to stay out longer.

With less serotonin or dopamine available, you can start to enter into a deficit. This deficit is what leads to anxiety or depression. Check out the tables below for the symptoms of each.

The most common way that these imbalances are corrected are from anti-depressants. Most people respond well to one or the other and it may take some trial and error to find the right prescription and the right dosage. Below I have listed the most common, but not all, of the prescribed anti-depressants and treat anxiety and or depression.

You can boost your levels naturally

There are ways that you can increase the levels of serotonin and dopamine in your body naturally using minor lifestyle and diet changes.
Dopamine is your body’s motivation and reward sensor. The more you feel motivated and rewarded, the higher your level can be. In order to keep your levels high enough to combat depression, you need to have some motivation to get started and set the goals first. Dopamine is released when you hunt for things, think scavenger hunts. Or when you complete a goal, like finish a term paper.
Serotonin on the other hand is your happiness sensor. The more serotonin you have the happier you can be. Trytophan is the can be turned into serotonin in the brain (at very low levels). Yes, tryptophan is the same thing that’s in that Thanksgiving Day Turkey and makes you sleepy.  This is what doctors assume to be the most prevalent type of depression, but it also comes with anxiety. In reality, only about 40% of the patients that have depression and are given serotonin increasing anti-depressants actually see results. My post on the Serotonin Diet has a list of foods that are high in tryptophan.
Although, serotonin is decreased after eating protein, it is increased when you eat carbs by themselves. The protein in a carb/protein food block the potential increase from the carbs.  A snack of 25-35g carbohydrates with less than 4 grams of protein and 3 grams of fat is recommended when you snack. This will increase serotonin levels, especially in the dreaded 2-5pm slump.  Choose something like a graham cracker or a pretzel if this slump hits.

Another way that serotonin is decreased is after drinking or eating caffeine or aspartame. So it’s time to cut back on the diet soda and the artificial sweetener in your coffee. You feel the effects of caffeine for about 4-5 hours and it can stay in your system for up to 14 hours after you consume it. So reducing caffeine in the afternoon can help you get to sleep better at night.

Related Post: Serotonin Diet


Please Note: I am not a doctor and am just providing the information. Your doctor should make the call on which prescription is best suited for you. Some of these medications can be taken together to get the affects of both, but should only be done under the supervision of a certified medical professional.

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