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Depression is the result of low levels of the stress-buffering brain chemical serotonin trying, but failing, to protect you against assaults of unchecked stress.
The same holds true for similar disorders, like anxiety, fatigue, and fibromyalgia.
The stress itself can come from any of life’s unpleasantries. You know the list: being overworked, an unsatisfying job, a toxic relationship, illness that you or a loved one might be experiencing, financial problems, a tax audit, the relentlessly bad news on TV every night. Everybody’s trying to do too much just to stay even with life.
If you’re a girl or a woman, you have less serotonin than most men, rendering you biochemically more vulnerable to stress, with depression and similar disorders a common result.
Virtually every person suffering from depression experiences varying degrees of brain fog. This occurs because stress triggers your adrenal glands to release the hormone cortisol, and cortisol dramatically interferes with healthy brain function.
Once your depression is treated (by using natural methods to raise serotonin, medications to raise serotonin, and/or by counseling to release the stress), most people remark that their brains seem to be returning to normal.
If you believe that mild depression is an issue, consider some short-term counseling. You probably don’t need a prescription antidepressant for a mild case.
You can, however, take St. John’s wort (450 mg twice a day) and 5-HTP (100 mg at bedtime) to boost your stress-buffering serotonin. This combination, just like prescription antidepressants, takes about a month to start working, so be patient.
Next time: why an under-functioning thyroid is a frequently overlooked cause of poor memory.
David Edelberg, MD