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Depression: The Leading Cause of Suicide and Role of Diet

Depression Causes Suicide

Every smiling person is not a happy person…depression is real! It leads to permanent disorder and ultimately suicide.

Suicide is one of the most prevailing issue in our society, it is the second leading cause of death

Unfortunately it is treated as a ‘taboo’ in our society, no one is ready to discuss it but just considers it a sign of mental illness. 

Family hides what happened to their loved ones, taboo prevents all the discussion.

A recent survey in Pakistan provide the following data:

45% said they have suicidal thoughts

43% responded the know people who attempted suicide

38% people said the personally know someone who has taken their life.

9% said they actually tried to take their life

Depression is about being colorblind and constantly told how colorful the world is…

Causes of Depression

Depression is a very vast topic, it has many dimensions. It usually results from life long events, personal issues and other multiple causes, rather than one event or immediate issue.

The sad thing is these issues are most often neglected in our society, people are usually reluctant to discuss these feelings because of feeling ashamed or judged and the social stigma obviously.

If someone find the courage to discuss their thoughts people most often make fun of them and bully them – that’s the real face of our society for such issues.

Parents can take their children to hospital for other physical disorders but usually reluctant about mental heath issues, which is by far a curse.

Depression is real
Depression is real (Source Pixabay)

1. Life Events

Some research studies shows that life long events such as

  • Long term unemployment
  • Social abuse or living in an abusive relationship
  • Long term isolation or loneliness
  • Gender discrimination
  • Unsupportive family or friends
  • Prolonged work stress

Above these all lead to depression more than recent events, recent events might play the role of a trigger if you are already the victim

2. Brian Chemistry Imbalance

One of the biological cause of depression is imbalance in neurotransmitters

They are the chemical substances that are known to communicate different brain areas, increase or decrease in neurotransmitter levels contribute to depression.

Neurotransmitters include: serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, they majorly deals with the mood.

3. Poor Nutrition

A diet lacking in a variety of vitamins and minerals can contribute to the episodes of depression, while some foods may trigger depression.

4. Female Sex Hormones

Studies suggest that female experience depression twice as men especially during their reproductive age

When their hormones are at flux like during menstrual period, pregnancy, child birth, perimenopause and postpartum depression.

5. Personal Issues

Personal issues includes

1. Family History

Personal issues like family history may play a role here, but it never means that if your parent or some close relative is suffering from depression you will automatically jump into depression, life events and circumstances still have great influence.

2. Long Term Illness

Coping with a long term chronic disease, continuous suffering and pain can lead to depression.

Medicines add more to it, some medicines have side effects such as mood swings, irritability they can also lead to depression.

3. Stress

Events loaded with stress can engulf a persons ability to cope with depression.

During the period of stress high levels of hormone cortisol is released which may effect serotonin -a neurotransmitter and contribute to depression.

Depression is not about being bit sad, it’s feeling nothing. It’s not wanting to be alive anymore (J. K. ROWLING)

Causes of Suicide

First of all depression is the precursor to suicide, suicides are not sudden, they come from the long depressing events

 A person who commits suicide ends up dead mentally, before ending up dead physically

We can’t judge someone apparently, we are all different when it comes to expressing our emotions, someone who is lively apparently, doesn’t mean he is flourishing that much within.

There are countless battles inside that comes from the past or in that vary moment. There are hundreds of stories behind someone’s smiling face.

They don’t share because we are not all ears, we are just the victims of social taboos, not ready to help but waiting for our turn to speak, we are just tongues and mouths… our capacity to listen is almost over.

Factors that cause depression (Source Pixabay)

1. Mental Health

Mental health is most important, if you are at bad mental health, you stand nowhere.

It affects personality, physical health and ability to cope with the daily life challenges.

We see many examples in our society where people who got fame, money, respect everything…

still choose to take their life, why? Because they have bad mental health, depression.

“Whether an illness affects your heart, your leg or your brain, it’s still an illness, there should be no distinction.”

Mental health (Source Pixabay)

2. Adverse Childhood Experience

Studies show that people who had adverse childhood experience such as

  • Emotional
  • Physical
  • Sexual abuse
  • Parental domestic violence
  • Household substance abuse

Above all factors have more suicidal thoughts as compare to others.

Signs For Depression, Suicidal Attempt

  • Look for sign of depression
  • Feeling hopeless and helpless
  • Lack of interest in daily life activities
  • Anger or irritability
  • Taking about suicide often
  • Sleep and appetite changes
  • Sudden mood changes: from extremely depressed to acting very normal
Different signs of depression
Different signs of depression (Source Pixabay)

What To Do?

  • There are a lot of ways to cope with depression and suicidal thoughts like Psychologist sessions
  • Psychiatric medications
  • Meditations
  • Working on improving personal relationships etc.

But there is something amazing to cope with depression and that is “FOOD” yes, food has a very deep affect on your brain and how you feel, although this should not be the only treatment for those who suffer from depression, but making the right choices can help you cope better with your depression.

Role of Food

there are some foods that can help you feel better if you have signs of anxiety or depression, and others may act as a trigger to your depression, avoid them! Food has great influence over your mood.

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food

Food is best source to reduce depression
Food is best source to reduce depression (Source Pixabay)

Food That Help You Feel Better With Depression

1. Tryptophan Rich Foods

Tryptophan is a precursor to the neurotransmitter ‘serotonin’. ”

Serotonin is known to boost up the mood and produce feel-good sensation, tryptophan is an amino acid and is found in a wide variety of food, which you can add in your daily diet.

Tryptophan rich foods include: chicken, turkey, sesame seeds, peanut butter, nuts, cheese, soy, milk, banana.”

2. Omega-3 Rich Foods

Omega-3 rich foods can enhance the brain function, they preserve the myelin sheet which protect nerve cells foods include Salmon, sardines, flaxseed and their oil, walnuts.

3. Protein Rich Foods

It is always a good choice to eat small, protein packed foods every few hours, because lack of blood sugar can make you feel irritable.

Protein stimulate the neurotransmitter norepinephrine and dopamine, these neurotransmitter carry impulses between nerve cells, elevated levels have shown improved mental energy and alertness.

Protein rich foods include: egg white, organ meat, Greek yogurt, beans, soy, nuts, fish.”

4. Vitamin B Rich Foods

A diet deficient in b vit ( mostly folic acid and b12) can trigger depression. Add vitamin b in your daily diet to help you feel good, vit b supplements can also be used.

Vitamin B rich foods include leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, nuts, eggs, legumes, chicken, oranges.

5. Carbohydrates

Studies show that carbohydrates can increase serotonin in the brain, always choose complex carbs such as whole grain, brown rice, sweet potato, corn etc.

Because they take longer to break down and release sugar in the blood stream more slowly.

Whereas, processed carbs can give you initial rush and your sugar level drop down soon after your meals, so you will end up feeling tired and irritated.

5. Selenium Rich Foods

The food rich in selenium can help boost your mood. Selenium rich foods include whole grains, some sea foods, organ meat.

Foods That Can Be Harmful For Depression

There are some foods that can be a trigger to depression

1. Sugar Rich Foods

Sugar rich foods can give you an initial push and a lot of energy immediately after consumption, it absorbs quickly into the bloodstream, when this energy wears off, your body produces a lot of insulin to remove the access sugar from bloodstream, which leads you tired and depressed. E.g. cold drinks.

2. Coffee & Caffeinated Drinks

Coffee and caffeinated drinks can add to your depression in a number of ways, like it slow down the production of serotonin in the brain which causes you to feel depressed and irritable.

It also act as a diuretic which results in dehydration, it also keeps you awake so you may feel depressed due to lack of sleep.

3. Processed Foods

Processed foods such as foods high in sugar and fats and others like sausages, fried or fatty foods, hot dogs can cause anxiety and a trigger to depression.

4. Processed oil

Saturated and refined fats can impair brain function and worsen the symptoms of depression.

You should avoid these foods: trans fats (present in processed foods), safflower and corn oil which are high in omega-6 fatty acid

Conclusion

Depression should never be neglected, there is no shame if you have symptoms, find the courage and talk to your family or friends with whom you feel comfortable but if nothing caters to you, try yourself! and never give up, nothing in the world, is worth giving up on life, you are important!

Make the right diet choices, it has great influence on your mood.

Written by JAVERIA MUNAWAR (BSc. Hons) Human Nutrition and Dietetics, Institute of Food and Nutritional Sciences, PMAS Arid Agriculture University Rawalpindi.

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