The berry that banishes PTSD-related blues

It can happen after a car accident, a natural disaster, the death of a family member, a robbery or receiving a life-threatening diagnosis. All of a sudden you can’t sleep. You have nightmares and flashbacks, not to mention paralyzing anxiety attacks and depression.

It’s post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). And it doesn’t only affect war veterans. It can happen to anyone who’s survived something horrible. In fact, more than three million Americans have PTSD.

If you’re one of them, you know that sometimes, no matter how much therapy and medication you get, it’s still unbearable. In fact, some commonly prescribed drugs, like Xanax and Valium, may even make your PTSD worse. The Army Surgeon General’s office finally admitted that in 2012 after years of pushing these and other benzodiazepine drugs on veterans.

But you know what can help your PTSD? Good nutrition. Getting the right amount of vitamins and nutrients can ease PTSD symptoms like insomnia, depression and anxiety. And if you have PTSD, the first thing you should put on your plate is blueberries.

Recently, researchers at Louisiana State University figured out that this superfood can help heal your PTSD by reducing the severe depression and suicidal tendencies that come along with it.

In their study, researchers fed rats with PTSD a lot of blueberries, and they found that these blueberries increased the expression of their SKA2 gene. That’s good news because the expression of this gene tends to be very low in people with PTSD, especially in those who attempt suicide.

So blueberries have the potential to alleviate PTSD-related depression and prevent suicides. That’s pretty impressive. But there’s more…

In a previous study, these researchers fed blueberries to rats with PTSD and found that it increased serotonin levels. That means it has even more potential to alleviate PTSD-related depression, since depressed people and people with PTSD tend to have low serotonin levels.

Are you ready to give the blueberry method of managing PTSD-related blues a try?

In their latest study, researchers gave rats the equivalent of 2 cups of blueberries per day.  The average human adult serving is considered a half cup, but you could try to build up to eating 2 cups a day, as long as the extra fiber doesn’t leave you bloated or cause diarrhea. Blueberries are considered a superfruit with numerous benefits.

But if you’d rather choose from a variety of mood-boosting foods to lift your mood try some of these:

  • Foods high in B12 like grass-fed beef, eggs, salmon, sardines, chicken and cheese since low levels of B12 are also linked to depression.
  • Foods high in omega-3s like salmon, walnuts, olive oil, flaxseeds, chia seeds and spinach. Several studies have shown that omega-3s can alleviate symptoms of PTSD like anxiety, depression and increased heart rate.
  • Foods high in vitamin D like salmon, trout, eggs and mushrooms. Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to depression and PTSD.
Sources:
  1. “Blueberries may offer benefits for post-traumatic stress disorder.” ScienceDaily. https://www.sciencedaily.com. Retrieved September 12, 2016.
  2. “The Army Warns Doctors Against Using Certain Drugs in PTSD Treatment.” Nextgov. http://www.nextgov.com. Retrieved September 12, 2016.
  3. “Eat This Food If You Have Depression or PTSD.” Fitness. http://www.fitnessmagazine.com. Retrieved September 12, 2016.
  4. Matsuoka. “Clearance of fear memory from the hippocampus through neurogenesis by omega-3 fatty acids: a novel preventive strategy for posttraumatic stress disorder?” Biopsychosocial Medicine. 2011;5:3.
  5. M. Wentz, et al. “Clinical relevance of optimizing vitamin D status in soldiers to enhance physical and cognitive performance.” Special Operations Medical Journal, 2014 Spring;14(1):58-66.

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Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine, TheFix.com, Hybridcars.com and Seedstock.com.