Feeling blue, sadness, crying, loss of appetite, trouble sleeping and low moods. All are classic signs of depression and affect millions of people worldwide. So which countries are the most depressed and what can be done to lift their general mood of gloominess? This article explains natural ways to beat the blues and how omega 3 helps depression.
It might surprise you to know that the United States tops the list of most depressed countries in the world. According to a survey conducted by researchers from the World Health Organization (WHO) and Harvard Medical School, a staggering 9.6% of the American population have experienced major depressive order, chronic minor depression, mood and anxiety disorders, panic disorders or bipolar disorder, which is more commonly known as manic depression. Other countries that registered high rates of depression include the Ukraine, France, the Netherlands and Colombia.
In general, Asian countries recorded relatively low rates of depression. This was contributed to the fact that many people were too busy earning a living to worry about themselves and the fact that displaying signs of depression was seen as self-indulgent and a loss of face in those societies. People with depression or other mental illnesses were also shunned and kept out of sight so their condition was either unnoticed or untreated.
Two countries that really stood out for their low rates of depression were Japan and Iceland. One of the most interesting discoveries was that people living in both of those countries consumed high amounts of fish. Japan is famous for its fish-based diet, while Iceland is one of the greatest fishing nations on earth and the people there are huge fish eaters.
As the study of the Japanese and Icelandic populations unfolded, the epidemiological, biological and clinical evidence gathered suggested that a diet rich in fish appeared to protect people against depression and suicide because they were also consuming a lot of omega 3 nutrients. This correlated strongly with earlier studies of people with depression, which found a depletion of omega-3 fatty acids in their cell membranes. So how exactly does the omega 3 in fish help depression?
The two main ingredients of omega 3 are EPA eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). EPA is considered to have the most beneficial effects, so it is important to buy omega-3 that contains more EPA than DHA. The reason that they work so well in fighting depression is because omega 3 is critical to the growth and maintenance of brain cells, especially cell membranes. This is the main reason why omega 3 helps depression.
The other important thing to remember is that our bodies do not naturally produce omega 3. It must be consumed either through the food we eat or through supplements and today the majority of highly processed Western diets are highly deficient in omega 3. In simple terms, the majority of us are not getting the omega 3 nourishment we need. So our bodies turn to omega 6 instead which produces cell membranes less able to cope with neurotransmitter traffic.
What has been significant in the United States, Europe and other Westernized countries in past two hundreds years is the dramatic rise in mental disorders and depression. For a long time this was thought to be a side effect of modern society and the highly mechanical way we all now live since the Industrial Revolution. But increasingly it is also seen as an effect of our shift in diet to more processed foods that contain little or no omega 3 nutrients.
One way to overcome this deficiency is simply to eat more fish. Unfortunately that has its drawbacks too. Many of the fish caught today have been swimming in seas contaminated by oil, mercury, PCBs and other toxins. Farm breed fish are no good either as they are fed grain, which does not contain omega 3, instead of algae which does and passes along the food chain naturally.
The other way to get the essential omega 3 nutrients your body needs is to take fish oil supplements. But be careful there too. You need pharmaceutical grade fish oil and the only one I trust myself is made by a company in New Zealand that distills it from a cold water fish called Hoki, which is probably the best source of natural omega 3 fatty acids that you will find anywhere in the world. If you would like to know more, take a look at my website for more ways that omega 3 helps fight depression.