My Q Health | The Surprising Role of Nutrition in Mental Health
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The Surprising Role of Nutrition in Mental Health

The Surprising Role of Nutrition in Mental Health

By Therese Borchard

If you’ve been reading my blog for a month or more, you know that I have found nutrition to be a powerful force in my recovery from depression. Since 2008, I haven’t responded to medications or have had only a minimal, partial response, so I have been on a mission — for myself and for the millions of other people with treatment-resistant depression — to find other, drug-free, ways to lift debilitating depression.

Recently I have been following the research of Julia J. Rucklidge, PhD, professor of clinical psychology at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand, who conducts compelling studies using micronutrients — vitamins and minerals in small quantities — to treat depression and other serious mood disorders.

You can check out Dr. Rucklidge’s research as part of the work conducted by the Mental Health and Nutrition Research Group, and the blog that she writes with Bonnie J. Kaplan, PhD, for Mad in America. Rucklidge recently delivered a fascinating TEDx talk (you can watch it below) about the role of nutrition in treating mental illness. I interview her here so that she can share her research with you.

Therese Borchard: Your research is fascinating. I couldn’t stop reading. If you had to pick two breakthrough studies that you would like everyone who has ever been depressed or has been a loved one of someone depressed read, which studies would you choose?

Julia Rucklidge: The study by Felice Jacka and others published in the American Journal of Psychiatry in 2010 had a tremendous impact when it was published. The study demonstrated an association between habitual diet quality and the high prevalence of mental disorders. I conducted a study in 2012 showing a simple intervention of micronutrients following a natural disaster reduced stress and anxiety and improved mood over just a four-week period. The ADHD randomized clinical trial showed that for those who entered the trial depressed, twice as many went into remission in their depression for those taking the micronutrients compared with those taking placebo.

TB: You said something in your TED talk that intrigued me. You said medications work better initially than they do over time, that drugs save lives, but they often fail to work on a long-term basis. Can you say more about that, and point us to the studies that you mentioned as part of your talk?

JR: We all know of people who have benefited from medications and who would swear that the medication saved them. These reports are really important and there are people who benefit in the long-term. I am sure every psychiatrist has patients like that. But if we look at the data and the published literature, the situation is more uncomfortable.

To read full article, visit Everyday Health.

To watch the Tedx Talk by Julia Rucklidge (discussed in this article), visit the above link, or go to


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