Your emotional wellbeing is dependent on a number of factors, including how much you exercise, how happy you are at work or at home, and how fit your finances are. But your mood is also highly dependent on the fuel you put into your body. If you’re not eating the right kinds of foods, with the appropriate nutrients, it’s only natural that you might feel tired all the time and that you might not look and feel your best.
Difficult events and experiences can leave you in low spirits or cause depression. It could be relationship problems, the loss of a loved one or a beloved pet, sleep problems, stress at work, bullying or abuse, chronic illness, or pain.
But sometimes it’s possible to feel down without there being an obvious reason. You could be suffering from depression, the physical effects on your body of anxiety, or you just might not be getting the nutrients you need from your diet.
What’s the Difference Between Low Mood and Depression?
A low mood and depression share many of the same symptoms. Depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest in participating in social and personal activities. Those suffering from symptoms of depression often have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, and sometimes they feel as if life isn’t worth living.
In addition to the symptoms listed above, symptoms shared by the two conditions can include:
- Feeling anxious or panicky
- Being worried a lot
- Being tired
- Having low self-esteem
- Being frustrated or angry for no real reason
While depression often requires medication, lifestyle changes, and cognitive behavioral therapy with a mental health professional, sometimes recovering from a low mood only takes a few days or weeks. Experiencing fluctuations in mood is natural for most people. In fact, nearly three-quarters of Americans experience stress, anxiety, or low moods as part of their regular brain function.
If you are experiencing persistent low moods and wonder if you might be suffering from depression, it’s important to your overall health to consult with a healthcare professional or a mental health specialist. The physicians within the BodyLogicMD network are available to talk with you to determine if your low mood or depression may be hormonally related or due to another cause.
What Are the First Steps in Dealing with Moodiness?
Your doctor might recommend you make some lifestyle changes like resolving a difficult situation, getting more sleep or talking to someone about your problems. All of these can usually help improve your mood. Self-help techniques such as meditation, breathing exercises, and learning different ways to think about problems differently could be worth a try, especially if you have depression or if you just find yourself feeling a little down.
The Campaign to Change Direction, a nonprofit dedicated to changing “the culture of mental health in America so that all of those in need receive the care and support they deserve,” recommends “five healthy habits for emotional well-being.” They include:
- Taking care of yourself by eating a well-rounded diet that includes minerals such as magnesium, sleeping enough, and being active.
- Getting regular checkups.
- Paying attention to relationships in your life to see if any are unhealthy or dysfunctional.
- Relaxing through meditation, running, knitting, singing, writing, walking the dog, or whatever activity eases your mind.
- Knowing the five signs of emotional suffering (changes in personality, uncharacteristic anger or agitation, isolation, engaging in risky behavior or not taking care of yourself, and being overcome with hopelessness).
And while self-help techniques have a part to play in regulating mood, a healthcare professional might also need to evaluate your diet, assess your activity level, and determine whether a hormonal imbalance might be playing a role in contributing to your lethargy and low mood.
Is Your Diet to Blame?
A diet rich in nutrients is the most effective way to combat your stress and elevate your mood. By eating the right foods, you are equipping your body and brain with the nutrients necessary to be quick on your feet and sharp witted, too.
Eating healthy does not have to be boring. There are an amazing number of healthy and tasty foods that can serve as brain boosters and mood enhancers.
Many people remember the insistent, low-fat dietary drumbeat that went on for so long. But in the past decade or so, current research has indicated that healthy fats are not only crucial to maintaining an upbeat mood, but also to cognitive function and physical ability. Not only are they vital for optimum performance, healthy fats add mouth-watering flavor to meals.
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are usually considered healthy fat. Not only can they reduce LDL cholesterol, the kind that clogs your arteries, but they can also benefit blood sugar levels and insulin, and even decrease the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Healthy fats are also anti-inflammatory and full of nutrients that keep your body and brain operating at peak efficiency.
Polyunsaturated fats include the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are essential fats for brain function and cell growth. Omega-3s are mostly found in fish oil and algae, nuts, and seeds. Omega-6s can be found in plant-based oils, such as safflower, grapeseed, and sunflower oils. Omega-6s and omega-3s work together to reduce inflammation and combat weight gain.
Foods with omega-3 fatty acids, like fatty fish, are shown to improve brain health. These foods should be incorporated into a healthy diet that includes foods such as:
- Fruits and berries
- Meats, such as lean beef, chicken, and lamb
- Nuts, seeds, and peanuts
- Leafy greens
- Fish and seafood
- Whole grains, such as brown rice and quinoa
- Bread made from organic, sprouted whole grains
- Legumes, such as lentils and black beans
- Full-fat dairy products
- Fats and oils, such as butter from grass-fed cows and olive oil
- Sweet potatoes
- Apple cider vinegar
- Dark chocolate
Fatty acids have been known to possess several health benefits, including:
- Maintaining cardiovascular health
- Improving mental health
- Aiding in weight loss
- Improving cognitive health
- Facilitating healthy fetal development
One thing to keep in mind when deciding what kind of fats to add to your diet is to stay away from trans fats, often labeled as partially hydrogenated oils. According to the American Heart Association, “trans fats increase your risk of developing heart disease and stroke, and are associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes.”
And while the USDA Dietary Guidelines recommend you stay away from saturated fats, recent nutrition research shows it’s the source of saturated fats that should be the focus of any diet, rather than the fats themselves.
What Are the Best Supplements to Improve and Support Mood?
Your doctor might discover that even though you think you are eating a healthy, well-rounded diet, you’re not getting the proper nutrients, or the right amount of nutrients, for your body and brain to operate at peak performance.
Fortunately, there are a number of foods and natural supplements that can help alleviate stress and anxiety, increase energy, and support a good mood. Often these supplements include a substance called chrysin, which is known to help relieve anxiety. Some of these supplements are passiflora, chamomile, and bee propolis.
For symptoms such as low-grade anxiety, exhaustion and fatigue, you might consider Rhodiola rosea. Studies have found a link between Rhodiola and the stabilization of such hormones as noradrenabile and cortisol. It has also been shown to work with metabolism to increase energy levels.
A common mood support supplement is St. John’s wort . It is often used to treat mild anxiety and low mood. Hypericin and hyperforin are its main ingredients. These have shown effectiveness in increasing serotonin levels and noradrenaline.
Mood can also be regulated by helping facilitate the communication between brain nerve cells. Avena sativa, better known as the oat plant, oat straw, or oat extract, is one supplement that contains gramine, which has been shown to slow the reuptake of noradrenaline. This process is believed to help brain nerve cells communicate.
An important neurotransmitter is serotonin The amino acid 5-hydroxytryptophan, more commonly called 5-HTP, can help in serotonin productions, as well as the hormone melatonin. People most often take 5-HTP in the form of L-tryptophan.
Looking at supplements to support brain function, Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) naturally occurs in the brain. As a supplement, GABA can have a positive effect on anxiety, mood, premenstrual symptoms, and tension.
Other supplements that help improve and support mood include Valerian root (good for relieving stress and insomnia), Ginkgo biloba (good for decreasing anxiety), and L-theanine (good for managing anxiety and anger).
Sam-e, or S-adenosyl-L-methionine, is another supplement that shows promise. A chemical that is found naturally in the body and is sold as a dietary supplement, it’s made in the body from methionine, one of the many amino acids found in foods that has been found to regulate key functions in living cells.
Abnormal levels of SAM-e in the body have been reported in people suffering from liver diseases, depression, and osteoarthritis. However, research has not conclusively shown that SAM-e is helpful.
Beyond plant-based supplements, it is important to consider vitamin support. Taking vitamin B-complex can improve your mood. Vitamin B-complex can also improve your metabolism and energy levels.
You may also want to talk with your practitioner about Vitamin D, which is vital to healthy body funciton. In part, it helps you maintain appropriate levels of calcium and phosphorus. To put it simply, Vitamin D also supports healthy muscles, nerves, and immune system. Unfortunately, many adults suffer from a vitamin D deficiency because few foods naturally contain it. Human skin converts sunlight into vitamin D, but you may not always get enough time in the sun to replenish the vitamin D levels in your system, especially if you live in northern climates or slather on the sunscreen.
This is why eating foods fortified with vitamin D and taking a vitamin D supplement may be beneficial. Vitamin D can be found in egg yolks, cheese, cod liver oil, beef liver, and fatty fish like tuna, salmon, sardines, herring, and mackerel. But the amount of vitamin D in these foods is quite small.
Probiotics are another food-based source of mood support. Found in such foods as yogurt and fermented foods (sauerkraut and kefir) probiotics produce biologically active compounds, such as neurotransmitters, in your digestive system — including GABA and serotonin. Taking probiotic supplements may help improve mood and energy levels.
It’s also important to explore the amount of magnesium you’re currently getting in your diet. Magnesium has been found to help regulate muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, and blood pressure, among many other important bodily processes.
On a final note, you may want to consider the use of essential oils as part of an aromatherapy practice to treat stress. These oils are typically used in massages, diffusers, and baths. Two commonly used oil to relieve stress are lavender which can also help with sleep, and bergamot, which has been associated with reduced stress levels and lower blood pressure. Essential oils and plant extracts can be used in massages, baths, and diffusers and can relieve stress and the symptoms that accompany it.
Why It’s Important to Take Supplements Under the Guidance of a Healthcare Professional
It’s only natural that you might be concerned about whether natural supplements are safe and effective. But the benefits of supplements have been documented, both anecdotally and extensively in academic research. Based on what we currently know, nutritional and herbal supplementation can be effective in treating anxiety and anxiety-related conditions.
However, while the US Food and Drug Administration regulates medicines, it does not regulate dietary supplements in the same manner, meaning a dietary supplement might not have much reliable research to back up the label’s claims.
This is why it’s important to only use natural supplements in consultation with your doctor or healthcare provider. And just because you might get positive results from a natural supplement, that doesn’t mean you should discontinue a prescribed medication without the okay of your doctor.
To make matters less certain, supplements may not all be manufactured the same way. Basically, their effectiveness and/or any side effects that are triggered may vary between brand or even between different products within the same brand.
In addition to medications and natural supplements, your healthcare provider might recommend a number of ways to reduce stress and raise your mood, including:
- Exercise, which can lower your cortisol levels and release endorphins, which are chemicals that can improve your mood and act as natural painkillers
- Aromatherapy, using lavender oil or other aromatic flowers in a bubble bath or a diffuser
- Reducing your caffeine intake
- BodyLogicMD’s 14-day Pure Detoxification Cleanse
- Keeping a journal
- Spending time with friends and family
- Going to see a comedy show; laughing is good for your health
- Learning to say no when your personal or professional plate is full
- Not procrastinating
- Taking a yoga or meditation class
- Listening to calm music
- Practicing deep breathing exercises
- Spending time with a pet
BodyLogicMD and their affiliated physicians can provide you with the expertise you need to make choices rooted in medical truth. The network of physicians offers discreet and convenient consultations for all wellness concerns related to aging and hormonal imbalances.
A Hormonal Imbalance Might Be to Blame for Your Low Mood
Understanding how hormones interact with other hormones and regulate bodily functions and mood is crucial to alleviating a mood disorder or raising energy levels.
A number of studies have linked abnormalities in hormone levels to various mood disorders, especially for premenstrual and post-menopausal women. And men, as they age, might see a decrease in testosterone production, which can also produce symptoms that exacerbate a low mood.
A BodyLogicMD-affiliated physician can analyze your hormone balance to determine whether hormones are contributing to your moodiness. The BodyLogicMD team can help you take control of your future with treatments that are evidence-based and supplements that have been tested and standardized in their preparation. In addition to evaluating your health, BodyLogicMD-affiliated physicians have been extensively trained to diagnose hormonal imbalances. They can help you decide whether bioidentical hormone replacement therapy is the right approach for you and can also advise you on how best to balance any treatment plan with BodyLogicMD’s line of specialized supplements.
What are you waiting for? Call today and see the remarkable change that individualized care can make in your life.