The term "depression" is descriptive and vague. The best use of the
term “depression’ is to point to someone who is unusually sad, critical and
angry; a person who does not enjoy life and withdraws from work, play and close
relationships with other humans.
There are important social reasons for withdrawal, sadness and anger.
All humans are involved in competition and negotiation with other humans. If you
are losing a competitive struggle, you feel sad and angry, sometimes with a
terrible sense of loss; you want to withdraw, hide, cry and sometimes you want
to die. If you habitually lose competitions or have an effective oppressor close
by, you feel dysphoric often or always. We call this social inhibition,
oppression or suppression rather than depression.
There are important environmental and dietary reasons for for
withdrawal, sadness and anger.
A human brain is a chemical processor whose first job is to find and ingest
the right stuff to function normally. Eating behaviors are generated by the
oldest regions in the brain and are closely linked to the basic patterns of
life, which are hunger, thirst, sexual arousal, flight, fight, fear, and anger.
Since the brain is the organ of the mind, molecular influences on the brain are
manifest as mental influences.
Food choices ( including alcoholic beverages) influence brain function
in a variety of ways. The brain disturbances of an alcoholic, unstable diabetic,
pellagra victim, or elderly patient with vitamin B12 and/or folic
acid deficiency are all recognized examples of nutritional mental illnesses.
Vitamin deficiency is always a concern with brain dysfunction, and the risk of
deficiency increases as mental disorder increases. B-vitamins play a critical
role in brain function. Vitamin B 12 deficiency is a notable cause of numbness,
tingling, incoordination, and impaired cognitive function. Niacin deficiency
presents as dementia, dermatitis, and diarrhea. Thiamine deficiency causes
cognitive dysfunction and is fully expressed in malnourished alcoholics as
Wernicke's psychosis. Vitamin-mineral supplementation is always a desirable
component of nutritional therapy, although high doses of individual nutrients
are only desirable in acute deficiency states.
The negative effects of food are seldom considered as causes of depression
but in our view eating too much of the wrong food is the most common cause of
Listen to Depression 2
Continue Depression Tutorial
You are viewing the Brain Mind Center at Alpha Online.
Understanding the human brain is essential to become a well-informed, modern
citizen. Stephen Gislason MD, the author of
the Human Brain, is a physician-writer who is good at making complex subjects more
understandable. This is a book with important ideas, so be prepared to read
and then keep the book as reference.
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Further reading: Neuroscience Notes, Intelligence and
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