Q I’ve been tired and low, sleeping badly and tending to weep. My GP says I’m suffering from mild depression. He’s suggested an antidepressant but I’d rather try something natural.
A Recent research shows a third of women have taken antidepressants, and over half haven’t been offered alternatives, despite questions over efficacy and side effects. Consultant psychiatrist Dr Joanna Moncrieff of University College, London, says ‘recent research shows people improve barely more with antidepressants then they do with a placebo.’ So it’s definitely worth trying alternatives first.
A helpful book: Healing Without Freud or Prozac by psychiatrist and neuroscientist Dr David Servan-Schreiber details his research into how to become ‘resilient and build a propensity for happiness’. The key treatments (some below) turned out not to involve drugs or analysis.
Fish oils: Omega-3 essential fatty acids have been shown to help lift depression (including post-natal) and many mental health problems. They’re found in oily fish (eg salmon, sardines, mackerel), also nuts, seeds and dark green veg, but many psychiatrists recommend a daily supplement. Try Omax 3 Fish Oil, £30 for 60 softgels (two daily).
Vitamin D: research shows deficiency of this ‘sunshine vitamin’ is linked to depression. So get out in the sun whenever you can, and try a supplement such as D Lux Spray by Better You, £7.15 for 15 ml (about 100 doses, one to three sprays daily)
Magnesium – Nature’s tranquilliser: insomnia may be linked to magnesium deficiency, which is common. Magnesium helps decrease release of the stress hormone cortisol. Have a hot milky drink before bed, or take Dynomins Magnesium, £14.60 for 90 tablets.
Herbal helpers: the traditional remedy St Johns Wort helps alleviate mild to moderate depression. Try Hyperidine by Bio Health, £14.95 for 120 capsules (three daily).
Take exercise daily: a recent review says it ‘compares favourably to antidepressant medication as a first-line treatment for mild to moderate depression’. Take up yoga, dancing, or simply go for a brisk walk, preferably with a dog.
Start gardening: Southampton GPs are referring patients with mild depression to an eight-week gardening course developed by the charity Solent Mind (solentmind.org.uk).
Knit or stitch: the rhythmic repetitive action seems to have a calming effect on brain biochemistry. More on stitchlinks.com
Talk about it: Freudian analysis may not help but admitting your problem to sympathetic, sensible friends can.
It’s A Fold Up
Here’s a small bit of genius: a folding pump with a hidden 1cm ‘OnAir’ heel (recommended by podiatrists and much comfier than totally flat). Redfoot ballet pumps come in their own stretchy pouch and pop in your bag so you can whip off your heels in a trice. All the friends who’ve tried my faux-Chanel Coco’s (off white with black toe and trim), £44.99, order them immediately. In medium, large, and extra large, and a wide range of styles and colours, redfootshoes.com
Tell Me The Truth About: Diet drinks
They may make you fat…
A recent 10 year study of 474 men and women reported those who drank two or more diet drinks a day saw their waists expand at five times the rate of non-consumers.
…possibly because they cause sugar cravings
Diet drinks are so sweet they may trigger an artificially sweet tooth.
They could affect your health
Although manufacturers vigorously defend aspartame, the most common sweetener, independent researchers have linked it to nervous system damage, leading to seizures, psychiatric disorders and other problems.
They disturb blood glucose balance
Diet drinks can make your blood sugar spike so you feel more energetic – but it won’t last. It’s much better to hydrate with water and eat something nutritious.
By Zoe Harcombe, nutritionist and obesity expert, zoeharcombe.com
Meet the YOU Team at Selfridges
Look Good… Feel Better, the charity that helps women combat the visible side effects of cancer treatment, is teaming up with Selfridges for the annual Beauty Editors’ Day at Selfridges Beauty Hall, London W1on Thursday 29 September from noon to 7 pm. The YOU health and beauty team will be out in force with Sarah Barclays on the La Prairie counter and Jo Fairley, my Beauty Bible co-author, and myself on the Clinique counter. To book a 15 minute one-to-one consultation, mini-makeover and beauty gift, all for just £20, call 0800 138 8140 or visit lgfb.co.uk.