A Drug-Free Prescription for Depression

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If you experience mild or moderate depression, this regime may help. If you have severe depression and/or suicidal ideation, you absolutely should be under the care of a doctor.

This list is no substitute for medical advice nor for counselling.

You should notice a difference within 2 weeks with maximum benefit in 6 weeks. This will not necessarily work for everyone so if after 2-3 weeks you don’t notice any improvement you should consider alternative or supplemental tactics.

Depression: The black dog

OK here’s the plan…

0. First do a few Blood Tests

Check to ensure there isn’t an obvious biological reason for your depression

  • Homocysteine – high levels are a good proxy for determining you are not processing B-vitamins properly
  • Thyroid Function – if low functioning you may need supplemental hormones

There is no need to get blood test results before adopting the following measures. If you can’t afford the blood tests, skip them and see how you respond anyway.

1. Take Vitamins Daily

The first two are easy to find in most health food stores. The latter 3 may need to be ordered online.

  • Omega 3 in the form of Fish Oil – get a good brand. Flaxseed oil is no subsitute. (500+ mg equivalent EPA+DHA per day; alternatively eat fish high in Omega 3).
  • D3 (2000 to 6000 IU/day)
  • Folate As Metafolin (aka: 5-methyltetrahydrofolate, 5-MTHF, levomefolic acid, or l-methylfolate) (800-1600 mcg/day)
  • Coenzymated B-6 (25mg/day)
  • Methylcobalamin (B12; 5000mcg/day)

The last 3 are activated forms of B vitamins. B vitamins have a significant impact on mood and anxiety. Some people have diminished capacity to process B vitamins due to genetic differences and this sometimes manifests as a mood disorder. The activated vitamins are particularly helpful for those people.

PS: look at these notes on how much methylfolate you need and can tolerate.

2. Exercise at every other day

  • warm up 3 minutes with walking / light jogging
  • HIT intervals repeat 5-8 times:
    • run at very top speed for 30 seconds
    • walk to catch breath for 90 seconds

Initially you may not have the energy to exercise. Try build up to it. If you don’t have the mobility to run, find another aerobic exercise that will cause your heart rate to elevate.

Note that this recommendation isn’t specifically for fitness but mental health. If you also want to improve your fitness, be sure to incorporate strength training.

3. Look at Faces Every Morning

Every morning within 45 minutes of waking up, look at videos of faces of people for 15-30 minutes. Seeing faces in the morning improves mood the day after you see them.

The faces need to be similar to what you’d see in a conversation – ie roughly same size and distance. Looking at people on the subway doesn’t work nor does looking at them on your phone.
Having an actual face-to-face conversation will also do the trick!

Places to watch faces:

  • Bloggingheads TV. This site contains many videos of hour-long conversations with two people look at the camera — perfect. On a large monitor, the picture size can be adjusted until they are life-size.
  • Life-size faces on YouTube.
  • Big Think. Many interviews with experts.

Source: Seth Roberts