People with phenylketonuria (PKU) may be more prone to depression than the general population. The stress of living with a chronic disease and being limited in your diet can lead to feelings of isolation and frustration. In addition, changes in the chemical messengers in the brain, from imbalances in your phenylalanine (Phe) and tyrosine levels, can contribute to feelings of depression.
There are, however, some steps you can take if you are experiencing depression, characterized by long-lasting feelings of sadness, emptiness, worthlessness, or loss.
Here are some tips that may help you fight depression and aid in improving your mood.
Staying socially connected is very important to controlling depression. Try to spend as much time as possible with friends and family members, especially those who bring out happy feelings and laughter.
PKU support groups also can help. Here, you can find people in a similar situation as you so you don’t feel alone.
Do things you enjoy
Make sure that you are staying engaged in activities that you enjoy. Whether socially, for fitness, or just for fun, activities that you like can help keep you active and engaged. They also can help keep your mind occupied and distracted from thoughts that might upset you.
Reducing the amount of sugar and refined foods you eat also can help improve your mood. You may crave these types of foods to try and fight depression, but they often lead to mood and energy crashes afterward. These foods also are usually missing vitamins and nutrients that your body might be lacking. Increasing your B vitamins, such as B12 and folic acid, also may reduce depression.
Most importantly, make sure you adhere to a low-Phe diet to keep your blood Phe levels down. According to a study by researchers in the Netherlands, high levels of Phe can greatly affect mood and increase depression.
Limit your alcohol intake
For many people with depression, alcohol can become a way to hide their emotions or make them numb to them. Alcohol can quickly become a problem, however, and could increase your depression further.
Set up a routine
It is easy to get out of a routine when you are depressed. You may stay up late watching television or playing on your phone and then end up sleeping in later during the next day. Getting a late start to your day can contribute to feelings of a lack of accomplishment. This can add to thoughts of reduced self-worth. By setting a schedule, you can ensure you participate in activities or better plan your meals to stay healthy.
Be aware of your thoughts
You may experience negative thoughts about yourself. These can include feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, and powerlessness. Taking a look at these thoughts can be helpful to learn how to combat them.
Get a pet
Pets can have several positive effects to help reduce depression. They can help combat loneliness and bring joy to your life. Caring for pets also can give you a sense of accomplishment and make you feel needed. Finally, they can give you a reason to get up and be active and establish a routine.
Get professional help
If you have tried to improve your mood without much success you should consider speaking to a mental health professional. You can talk to your primary care physician first, who may be able to refer you.
Mental health professionals can give you strategies to help improve your mood and can prescribe medications such as antidepressants in more severe cases.
If you are experiencing any thoughts of suicide, contact a suicide prevention organization such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in the U.S. or the International Association of Suicide Prevention in Europe.
Last updated: Feb. 4, 2021
Phenylketonuria News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website
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