Beating Depression

Online in various personal development forums you’ll find a lot of bad advice for overcoming depression…

  • People without physical imperfections telling you that you should just ignore what you see in the mirror.
  • A lot of tired self help platitudes about just being yourself; you’ll finally be happy if you can just practice radical self acceptance. Be confident. Just be yourself.
  • If you have a really hard time making friends or dating people will tell you to find someone who accepts you just the way you are!
  • If you lack motivation you’ll hear the misleading line of advice that you should find your passion! Figure out a way to get paid to do what you love and you’ll never work again another day of your life.
  • If you suffer from a cruel inner dialog of negative thoughts they’ll tell you just be positive! Or recommend repeating silly mantras.

The Good News

Is that, in a sense, depression is a lot less complicated than you may think it is. It’s a expression of cause and effect just like everything else in the universe. Overcoming depression doesn't require that you grapple daily with your inner demons or figure out some esoteric pseudo-spiritual technique for reprogramming some deep layer of your psychology. It just requires persistent action, empowering habits and likely changing what you’re consuming.

Keto/Paleo Diet

  • Most people are not going to do well with abstaining from carbohydrates for weeks or months. So for most people it’s fine to do a carb heavy meal a couple of times a week.

Avoid…

  • Junk food in shiny packaging.
  • Non-organic meat or animal products — Not consuming meat is a whole lot better than consuming factory farmed, grain feed, hormonally treated animals. I’m not a vegetarian but I avoid eating a lot of meat unless it’s from a pretty credible source.
  • GMO foods — Avoid regularly eating cheap food from big box grocery stores or fast food restaurants and try to purchase your food from local farmers or organic sources. Once after 2 months of eating fresh bananas in Costa Rica I returned to the United States and ate a banana at my mom’s house from WalMart and I could really taste the difference.
  • Fried food is just eating cancer and often contains egregious amounts of PUFA oils that do all sorts of damage to your internal organs.
  • Fruit which is high in fructose.
  • “Healthy” or low fat foods that contain a lot of sugar.
  • Cheap food, which is, more often than not, of poor quality.
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  • Whole Foods or boutique grocers that specialize in certified organic or locally grown foods are also a good option.

The Brain Power Diet

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Read Sharpen Your Intellect with These 5 Nootropic Foods
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  • Pumpkin seeds.
  • Brazil nuts — This is the nut for manly men. A few brazil nuts a day raises your testosterone.
  • Cayenne pepper—Is an amazing (and very spicy) natural antioxidant.
  • Turmeric and pepper — Spice used in India, elevates neurotrophic factors, helps with depression and eliminates memory deficits. Make sure to enjoy turmeric with a little pepper. The absorption of the turmeric is bad without it.
  • Blueberries — Blueberries contain a blend of flavonoids with potent antioxidant effects in the brain. They’re also rich in pterostilbene, which is an improved version of its sister molecule, resveratrol. That’s because pterostilbene is more bioavailable than resveratrol and more potent.
  • Salt — Is NOT bad for you. You can consume all the salt you want. First thing in the morning I’ll often have a big glass of water with a bunch of delicious pink himalayan sea salt ground into it. If you ever get muscle cramps at night try increasing your salt intake.
  • Rosemary — Contains carnosic acid which is neuroprotective and helps prevent neurodegenerative brain conditions. Rosemary has for millennia been known to improve brain power, in fact Greek mythology associates it with powers of the mind. Some studies have shown that the scent of rosemary can improve memory in workers so you may want to keep some by your desk. Take a wiff in the morning!
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Cayenne, Rosemary, Turmeric and pepper

Intermittent Daily Fasting

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Cooking?

The ideal way to consume food is to eat it raw. Raw meats, fruits and vegetables retain the highest amounts of nutrients. However, very few people are willing to make a lifestyle change to eating raw food all the time. The important thing to keep in mind is that when cooking, less is more, the less cooked your food is the more good stuff it retains.

Coffee

The good, the bad and the ugly

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  • You’ll also know by how anxiety prone it makes you after multiple cups. For me, if I drink 2–3 cups of coffee and notice myself getting irate with little things, that’s also a sign that it’s not good stuff. Actual healthy coffee consumed in reasonable doses should wake you up, make you alert and motivated but not anxious and overstimulated. Try to limit your consumption to 2–3 cups of coffee daily. More and you’re becoming too dependent on the stuff for energy.
  • Don’t add sugar, cream, milk (or soy milk) to your coffee. These additives diminish the significant health upside of coffee.
  • If you need to improve the taste of coffee try doing it “bulletproof style” mixing in some butter.
  • In almost any city in the world you can find an organic or vegan food grocery store that sells high quality coffee or go to a hipster cafe and you’ll likely find some tattooed baristas who are real connoisseurs of 1,3,7-trimethylxanthine (the chemical name of caffeine).
  • Coffee shouldn’t be the first thing you consume in the morning. Start the morning by hydrating yourself; mineral water with a pinch of salt and a squeeze of lemon juice is ideal. Then have coffee after you’ve been up for about an hour.
  • Caffeine is the enemy of sleep quality. To optimize sleep quality cut off caffeine consumption at 6–12 hours before sleep, yes caffeine stays in your system quite a while! If you need a mid-afternoon pick-me-up use Nootropics.
  • Green tea has a subtle anxiolytic effect that is synergistic with the coffee.
  • Green tea is something of a creativity stimulator, so the two together are a great writing stack (if I want to take this to the next level I will add some supplemental liquid Nicotine)

Alcohol

If you’re depressed you really probably shouldn’t be drinking. Often those dealing with depression self medicate with alcohol because it’s a cheap, fast working mood enhancer but methodical research indicates that alcohol consumption worsens depression.

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Marijuana

Is extremely popular and increasingly accessible and legal but it’s a very problematic weed for those who are depressed to indulge in. A recent meta analysis that looked at human studies totaling over 75,000 people concluded…

The Psychedelic Question

Thanks to Joe Rogan and different counter-culture personalities psychedelics have become very popular. You’ve probably heard about them and are curious if a psychedelic trip or ceremony could be a shortcut mental health.

  • Pubmed lists no human clinical trials with a follow up investigation where a positive effect was noted on memory or cognition, which in contrast you can certainly find for Nootropics.
  • Some research indicates impairments of memory and mental functions while dosed which is kind of what you would expect.
  • The closest thing to research I could find on positive effects on personal transformation was two studies done in 2017. The first was done Assessing the Psychedelic “After-Glow” in Ayahuasca Users at the University of Barcelona which showed sustained elevations in nonjudging 2 months later in a five facet mindfulness questionnaire. The second, Effect of Psilocybin on Empathy and Moral Decision-Making interestingly found that Psilocybin significantly increased emotional, but not cognitive empathy and In contrast, moral decision-making remained unaffected by psilocybin. These studies would seem to confirm the stereotype of the hippy-dippy wu-wu psychedelic lover but don’t provide much evidence of them as transformational tools like mindfulness or brain training.
  • There’s this rather terrifying phenomena of Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder which means that auditory and visual hallucinations persist after a psychedelic experience for days, weeks or longer. And it doesn’t just happen to hardcore psychonauts who are using excessive amounts of drugs and having jarring bad trips. It can happen after just one trip. There are over 40 science papers documenting HPPD so it’s not exactly a fringe phenomena.

Personal anecdote

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Psychedelics don’t belong in the same risk-reward category as Nootropics, Mindfulness or diet hacking.

I came across a single notable study of Psilocybin vs Depression

Exercise

  • HIIT High-intensity interval training can be an ideal time saving exercise lifehack for staying healthy, vigorous and lean. Dave Asprey, the godfather of Biohacking, describes why this is such a quintessential exercise lifehack…

Nootropics for Depression

The Nootropics discussed in the chapter Biohacking is the Gamechanger make a big difference in depression! They feed your brain and neurobiology a lot of the molecular building blocks needed for proper neurological function, especially…

  • Rhodiola
  • B-Vitamins
  • Magnesium

Self Quantification

Blood Panels and Hormonal Testing

Again, depression is caused by the corporeal mechanics of your biology, not demons, bad karma or some other metaphysical force. Blood panels and hormonal testing that a doctor or lab can provide you can give tremendous insight into the chemical imbalances causing the depression.

  1. Testing — If your depression is treatment resistant spend a couple hundred bucks getting tested. It will reveal some fundamental deficiency, low testosterone or heavy metal toxicity. Then you can take specific steps to address that.

Tech Addiction

As discussed in the previous chapter, chronic tech addiction has a long term effect on our minds similar to a heroin addiction. If you’re spending +8 hours a day staring at screens, make an effort to spend time outside in the real world, interacting with real people and implement the Brain Rehab Protocol detailed.

Cold Showers

While you don’t have to ice your gonads like competitive Russian power lifters do cold showers are a lifehack practiced consistently by high performers. The science is a little unclear as to whether it actually increases testosterone but the effects that numerous Biohackers report are analogous to raised testosterone.

  • It helps with weight loss.
  • It increases libido.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

If you live somewhere in the world with four seasons you’ve probably experienced this. During the cold season you’ll notice your motivation and mood is lagging, you’ll sleep more and maybe gain some weight, this has a very apt name — seasonal affective disorder.

  • Sunlight — If you can bundle up and get 10–15 minutes of sunlight during those short winter days, it will make that Vitamin D3 all the more effective. If you can’t you may want to consider a tanning salon membership or investing in an ultraviolet-B light.

Intermittent Antidepressive Meditation

There’s a lot of Biohacks for beating S.A.D but one mindfulness lifehack that anybody can do anytime is intermittent antidepressant meditation and it really is effective at improving your mood. It also goes by the name loving — kindness meditation; which I think is a really bad name! It makes it sound like a girly, wimpy thing and it’s not! It’s actually a quite effective tool for managing your thoughts and emotions.

No Fap

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To Summarize

  • The advice for depression that you’ll find online in self help forums or in pop psychology is quite bad. Depression is simply a manifestation of chemical imbalances.
  • Really overcoming depression is going to require between several months to a year of disciplined, concerted effort.
  • Get all the crap out of your diet. The Keto or Paleo style diet in combination with daily fasting will optimize your health and mindset.
  • Exercise is crucial. Do some exercise that gets you sweaty about three times weekly.
  • Nootropics are a shortcut for hacking depression. Combine them with the other lifehacks like cold showers, mindfulness and no fap.
  • Alcohol, weed and narcotic drugs are not a good idea for the depressed.
  • Be wary of seasonal affective disorder — Supplement Vitamin D3 and get some extra sunlight to prevent it.
  • First implement all the common sense, low hanging fruit biohacks — if you don’t overcome depression with these get blood and hormone tests done by a doctor to identify chemical imbalances.

This is a chapter from my mémoire and lifehacking manifesto.

Order it from Amazon or directly here on my own website.

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Watch: Book Announcement “How to Be Cross Eyed” My mémoire and lifehacking manifesto

Adventuring philosopher, Pompous pontificator, Writer, K-Selected Biohacker, Tantric husband, Raconteur & Smart Drug Dealer 🇺🇸

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