Feeling Anxious? Improving Your Nutrition May HelpPosted: May 23, 2014
I recently attended an eye-opening talk by Dr. James Greenblatt, Adult and Pediatric Psychiatrist, as well as Founder and Medical Director of Comprehensive Psychiatric Resources in Waltham, Massachusetts. As a dietitian, I know how important the food we eat is for our health and well-being. What was new to me is how much nutrition plays a role in the treatment of depression, anxiety and mood disorders. Also new to me is the fact that depression is the second leading cause of disability worldwide and it is predicted to be the number one cause of disability by 2020. This is something that needs our attention and if food and nutrition can be part of the solution, it’s worth investigating.
Increasingly, the medical community has turned to medications as the sole treatment for mental illness. As someone who has spent 13 years working in clinical drug research, I understand how life-saving these medications can be. However, they do not work for everyone and can come with some unwanted side effects. In fact, these drugs often are only about 50% effective, basically the flip of a coin. This is due to something called the placebo-effect, where the placebo, or inactive pill, is sometimes found to be just as effective as the active drug. This could just be due to the fact that everyone in the study is getting more attention from caregivers, so even the patients on the placebo improve. This placebo-effect makes it hard for drug companies to prove the efficacy of their compound and as a result, very few new drugs for depression and anxiety make it to final approval by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration).
Dr. Greenblat asserts that it is worthwhile checking the nutritional status of his patients, since deficiencies in vital nutrients can contribute to their condition. He pointed out that the brain is 60% fat and needs cholesterol in order to function. He has found that patients on statin medication to lower cholesterol can show signs of depression if the total cholesterol drops below 130. Sometimes children with autism are found to be genetically low in cholesterol and benefit from a cholesterol supplement. He also discussed a study showing links to prenatal vitamin D deficiency and schizophrenia. Other important nutrient deficiencies linked to fatigue, anxiety, depression and mood disorders are: folate, vitamin B12, iron, magnesium and zinc. Basically, a junk food and refined sugar diet is not going to help your body or your mood. Dr. Greenblat points out that improving nutritional status is just “good” medicine that can be used alone, or combined with drug therapy, to help improve outcomes in the treatment of mental illness.
Dr. Greenblatt is also an author, and fortunately for us, he has written a number of books on this fascinating topic. Here are the titles and the links on Amazon.com.
To learn more about Dr. Greenblatt, click on this link to his website: www.integrativepsychmd.com
Do you find a link between your diet and your mood? Click on the title of this post and then scroll down to leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!
As always, the information in this blog is general nutrition information and is not intended to be medical advice.