Mental health benefits of Negative Ions

Can negative ions benefit our mental health and alleviate depression?

Can negative ions benefit our mental health and alleviate symptoms of depression? What is depression? How can you tell the difference between feeling a bit low and serious depression? And what natural ways are there to combat mental health issues?

The effect of negative ions on depression has been the topic of many scientific studies over the last century. This article uses some of those studies to explain how negative ions can literally boost your mood, and answers all of the questions above. Note that this article is written for informational purposes only. If you think you might suffer from a mood disorder, please consult your own doctor.

Depression: a global problem on the rise

According to the World Health Organization, more than 300 million people around the world suffer from depression. Its the leading cause of disability and its on the rise globally. In the US alone, there are more than 16 million people who have experienced a major depressive episode in the past year.

There has been an increase of 64% in the use of antidepressants between 1999 and 2014. In the same period of time, the annual US suicide rate increased by 24%. Also, there is much controversy about the effect of antidepressants and about how many people benefit from them. Medications can be a lifesaver for some but for others, they can be an addictive nightmare.

In order to solve this rising issue, we need to look at other ways to treat depression.

What is depression?

Depression is also known as melancholia, a nervous breakdown or a burnout. There are different types of depression, including a minor depression, a major depression, seasonal affective disorder (SAD aka a winter depression), and dysthymia.

Of course, everyone experiences ups and downs throughout life. So when does feeling down become more serious? Well, doctors say that when you experience a constant low mood, self-loathing, and a lack of energy for more than two weeks, you might be suffering from depression.

Symptoms of depression include:

  • Extreme tiredness
  • Lack of energy
  • Irritability
  • Poor concentration
  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Loss of libido
  • Weight gain or weight loss
  • Insecurity
  • Lack of interest in social interaction
  • Negative thoughts

 

What causes mood disorders and depression?

Depression is linked to biochemical, social, and environmental factors. Although genetics makes some people more susceptible to mood disorders than others, scientists agree that long periods of stress, medications, medical problems, and a poor diet play a major part in triggering depression. Its believed that depression usually arises from a combination of these factors.

Lets take a look at two factors that you have control over right now: stress and food.

The effect of stress on our body and mind

By now, almost everybody knows that stress has a huge impact on our body and mind. If youre exposed to chronic stress (from e.g. a demanding job or relationship), your body is in constant survival mode. It produces all kinds of hormones, including cortisol and adrenaline. They make your reaction time faster so you can flee or fight.

At a certain point, however, your body is going to get exhausted. Chronic stress literally depletes your body and wears it down. Your immune system will weaken, youll get sick or youll develop psychological issues.

What is stressful for one person doesnt have to be stressful for another, though. And worrying about stress only makes it worse. Stress isnt necessarily bad either, it actually makes us more alert.

When you experience the following symptoms, however, you need to take a step back and find a way to reduce stress. Take up yoga, go for a walk at the beach, exercise, use an ionizer, and learn to take care of yourself.

Emotional symptoms:

  • Hard to think clearly
  • Mood changes
  • Highly irritable
  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Crying or the feeling you need to
  • Blackouts

Physical symptoms:

  • Sweating
  • Tense muscles
  • Not breathing from the belly but from the chest
  • An accelerated heart rate
  • Cold feet and hands
  • Headache
  • Dry mouth

 

The link between food and depression

Did you know that vitamin C plays an important role in the prevention of depression? A vitamin C deficiency, as well as a vitamin D and vitamin B deficiency, can lead to mood disorders such as depression. In order to stay healthy, both physically and mentally, its important to eat a sufficient amount of fruit and vegetables (green vegetables, such as broccoli, kale, spinach, as well as bell peppers – bell peppers contain four times more vitamin C than oranges), and nuts and seeds.

There is an increasing number of scientific studies that show a strong correlation between food and depression. A high-fat, refined sugar diet has been found to decrease a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which can lead to anxiety and depression. Another study suggests that consuming foods with probiotics reduces social anxiety.

A meta-analysis on dietary patterns and depression risk shows that a healthy diet of fruit, vegetables, whole grain, fish, and a low consumption of animal foods is linked to a decreased risk of depression.

The same analysis, which included 21 studies, shows that the opposite is also true. A typically western diet with a high consumption of animal foods, processed meat, sugar, high-fat dairy products, potatoes, and a low intake of fruits and vegetables is linked to an increased risk of depression.

Mental health benefits of negative ions

Now lets look at the mental health benefit of negative ions and negative ion generators. They are believed to make people feel more awakened, energized, and engaged. Actually, its not only believed, its been proven. Columbia University professor Dr. Michael Terman has led several studies on the mental health benefits of negative ions. According to him, the exposure to negative ions evokes beneficial mood effects.

Negative ionizer works as antidepressant

Funnily enough, Dr. Terman started out using negative ions as a placebo in a light therapy study with people suffering from seasonal affective disorder. He was shocked to learn that when patients received 30-minute, high-dosage sessions for more than three weeks, their symptoms decreased by more than 50 percent.

Dr. Terman found that treatment with a high-density negative ionizer worked as an antidepressant for people suffering from SAD. He even recommended using an ionizer as an alternative or supplement to medications. Dr. Terman also points out that negative ions can raise energy and alertness. He says that they should be used in the morning if you suffer from bipolar disorder.

In another experiment, led by Catherine Harmer of the University of Oxford, negative ions produced positive psychological changes in SAD patients. Harmer didnt only see emotional-processing improvements with the SAD patients, but she also saw improvements in the healthy control group when it received its high-density negative ion treatment.

Negative ions have a stress-reducing effect

A 2003 study led by Dr. Hideo Nakane showed that exposure to negative ions is effective for the reduction and recovery from stress. Twelve males participated in a test designed to increase stress levels. It turned out that the subjects who were exposed to negative ions had stable levels of a chemical known as salivary Chromogranin-A. CgA is produced during times of stress. The levels of the CgA in the group that wasnt exposed to negative ions continued to increase as they continued the test.

Negative ions neutralize bad effect of positive ions

But why do negative ions have such a positive effect on our mental health? Well, scientists are still not sure about that. Dr. Terman does have some ideas. One of them is that negative ions land on the skin. They neutralize the bad effect that positive ions might have on the brain.

Harmful positive ions come from exhaust fumes, cigarette smoke, dust, electromagnetic pollution such as computers, and air-conditioners. A study led by A.S. Ogungbe, O.H. Akintoye, and B.A. Idowu shows that: too many positive ions will have you feeling depressed, lethargic and full of aches, pains and complaints.

Negative ions help cells to function optimally and increase cellular nutrient absorption

Weve seen how food is linked to mood disorders such as depression. But its not only about what you eat, its also about how you eat. Your body needs to be able to absorb nutrition in an effective way. Negative ions help to speed up the function of your cells. This makes the cell better able to absorb nutrition and eliminate waste material.

Negative ions have a positive effect on the regulation of serotonin

The hormone serotonin plays a crucial role in our mood. Too much serotonin can lead to depression or anxiety. Several studies (Allan H. Frey, Krueger, et al.) described in the Happiness Effect have shown that negative ions lower the amount of serotonin in the brain. The exposure to negative ions made the subjects more relaxed and reduced their emotional responses to fear and anxiety.

Can negative ions benefit our mental health?

Negative ions and ionizers can definitely benefit our mental health, but depression is complex. There are billions of chemical reactions inside your body and brain that determine your mood. Two people might have the same symptoms of depression, yet the cause may be completely different. This is important to remember, as a different cause also requires a different treatment.

If you suffer from clinical depression, consult your doctor. Negative ion therapy and negative ion generators should not serve as the primary remedy to clinical depression.