Helping Depression with Exercise, Diet, and Mindset – Part 3

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH; Justin Lam, ABAAHP, FMNM

Read Part 1 | Part 2

Dealing with AFS and helping depressionMore people than ever are now recognizing the fact that there is a link between stress, helping depression, and adrenal fatigue. People who suffer from adrenal fatigue are often plagued with other ailments that are not always directly relatable to their adrenal issues. When your body is subjected to large amounts of stress, the responsibility to respond to these negative variables is often put onto the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands are, if you can consider the fact that everything is necessary in the stress response process, the workhorse of the stress response. It is important to recognize this fact for a multitude of reasons. If you are experiencing stress on a continual basis or suffer from depression, there is a high probability that you are suffering from Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS).

When the adrenal glands are placed under high burdens of elevated stress, they can often fail to respond in ways that are advantageous to proper health. The adrenal glands control inflammation, immunological responses, and even play a part in regulating metabolism, so there is a high risk level when they aren’t functioning as they should.

To consider AFS in the context of helping depression, you need to look at your lifestyle and the ways in which you are currently coping with stress. Diet has a lot to do with how we process stress. Putting poor fuel in our bodies can have a very negative effect on how we feel on a daily basis. When our bodies don’t have what they need to properly react to stress, the adrenal glands begin to operate insufficiently. This creates a cyclical problem in which we feel worse, we do less, and our depression and stress levels continue to rise, while at the same time, our bodies are not as equipped to cope with these symptoms.

There is a strong link between inflammation, depression, and adrenal fatigue. This relationship could be present because of several factors including poor diet, stress, and lack of proper adrenal recovery time. When the adrenal glands reach a stage of fatigue and exhaustion, the body cannot keep levels of inflammation low, because of improperly controlled cortisol output. This can cause damage to neurons in the brain. Because of this neurological damage, serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain can become imbalanced and contribute to increased levels of depression. Through a protocol to aid in helping depression, adrenal recovery, inflammation levels can be kept in check and the damage caused by hormone dysregulation can be mitigated.

There are ways that you can help to normalize your adrenal function and reduce the burden placed on the adrenals while simultaneously helping your depression. Exercise has an important role to play in not only stress recovery, but in general health and well-being. Exercise on a regular basis has the effect of releasing dopamine and serotonin, which are both known to reduce depression. As it relates to AFS, exercise helps to reduce cortisol levels and return the body back to a balanced state where stress become easier to tolerate. However, exercise can also trigger adrenal crashes for those with advanced adrenal fatigue or adrenal exhaustion. The weaker the adrenals, the higher the risks. Therefore, finding the proper exercise level for your body is key.

Improving your health and helping depressionWhen proper exercise routines are maintained, the body has a much better ability to rest, and this is important because AFS sufferers often have a difficult time sleeping. This is also a something that contributes to depression and stress. When we allow our bodies to get proper rest, we are more able to deal with what life throws our way.

However, it is important to recognize that certain methods of adrenal recovery need to be implemented with caution, depending on your physical ability and stage of AFS. In advanced cases, it can be unsafe to engage in helping depression with intense physical activity because of the precarious physical conditions present in the body, such as high inflammation and maldigestion. Exercise in these situations can actually worsen symptoms for someone suffering from AFS. Make sure to take an accurate assessment of your individual situation before making any substantial changes to your routine to avoid an AFS recovery backfire.

Adrenal Fatigue, Mindset, and Helping Depression

AFS can often lead individuals down a road of discouragement which can then lead to depression. It is important when dealing with both depression and AFS that you continue to focus on the control you do have, including taking steps, however small, to improve your health and situation. Every bit counts when trying to heal.

When you approach problems in your life with a positive mindset, there are physical impacts that are apparent immediately. Your body has a default setting in which stress triggers a fight and flight response. There are ways to avoid this if you can manage to train your mind to view obstacles in life differently.

If you avoid the fight and flight response, your body does not have to go through the damaging effects of cortisol released by the adrenal glands. If the balance of your blood sugar, cardiovascular function, and metabolism are not dysregulated by stress, your body can more easily maintain a healthy internal balance of hormones and stay on the road to recovery. This hormonal imbalance from stress that is a major factor in AFS.

Helping depression is a very difficult thing. It is a time to consider making small, healthy changes in our lives and thought processes by examining the link between what causes stress and how that stress is managed within the body. Through exercise, diet, and shifting towards a more growth oriented outlook on things, you can help depression.

Recovery Does Not Mean Isolation

There is a simple truth that battling with AFS and depression should not be done alone. Always consider who is around you that supports you and uplifts your mood and perspective. Nobody should have to go through the recovery process by themselves, and having the support of friends, family, and other support people helps make lifestyle changes more effective and prevents you from slipping back into old ways of doing things.

When you talk to someone who cares, giving you an outlet for your emotions, the NEM stress response becomes better regulated and anxiety is reduced. It’s important to reduce anxiety levels, because these can also lead to a fatigued stress response and to feelings of hopelessness. Continually elevated levels of stress hormones are a major contributor to adrenal fatigue. Once you have established who is in your life that can help to encourage you, do your best to stay in touch with them and share what you are experiencing and the steps you are taking.

There is also a large quantity of literature available online that can help you understand what you are going through and outline a plan for making helpful changes.

Reaching out to family and friends for helping depressionOnce you put into place some basic changes, you’ll be amazed at how quickly things can turn around. Depression and fatigue have definite physical components, but though the NEM stress response and AFS are things that take place within our bodies, mindset also has an important role. When things seem negative or impossible to overcome, our bodies are triggered into what they see as a naturally appropriate response for survival. However, trying to look at situations in a more positive light or as bringing opportunities for desirable changes in your life can help mitigate that need for a survival response. It can keep you balanced and give you a brand new day to look forward to.

Regardless of circumstances, there are methods that can be used for helping depression and recovering from AFS which everyone can take part in. It is our hope that through reading this article, you feel empowered in the process of making some changes to your situation. There is much more to any situation and any individual than can be seen on the surface, and though you may feel hopeless and alone, it doesn’t mean that you are. Take tiny steps, reach out to others, and find yourself on the path to a brighter tomorrow. There may be many things that seem to need to be done, and it may feel like too much, but everything has to start with the first step. Making just one small change could help improve your life in ways you never could have imagined.

Read Part 1 | Part 2

© Copyright 2017 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.

Helping depression