23 Mar 20200 Comments
Do you have anxiety? Depression? Brain fog? Low energy? And nothing seems to be working for you? Perhaps you’ve been told your depression and anxiety are a result of a chemical imbalance in your brain: low levels of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin or norepinephrine. The pharmaceutical companies have close to 20 different SSRIs (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors) to correct this chemical imbalance. These SSRIs merely recycle serotonin, a mood stabilizer your body has produced. But what if your body isn’t producing enough serotonin to begin with?
Despite all these medications, depression is at epidemic levels. Twenty to 50 percent of people on depression medication do not improve and the side effects of SSRIs can be overwhelming: ranging from weight gain to increased suicidal thoughts. The good news is there are other non-pharmaceutical approaches to treating depression and/or anxiety without all the unfortunate side effects. In fact, many people will improve with simple lifestyle interventions, such as diet change, exercise, better sleep habits, more sun exposure and community involvement.
A functional medicine approach to treating depression looks at the possible root causes. Some likely culprits might include:
1. Genetic vulnerability.
2. Triggering life events such as accidents, death, divorce, etc.
3. Environmental factors such as toxin exposure.
4. Poor diet, resulting in poor gut health, increased intestinal permeability: leaky gut.
5. Chronic inflammation and hormone dysregulation.
Non-pharmaceutical treatment options would include:
The easiest way to beat depression is to be sugar free. A diet high in refined sugar causes chronic inflammation and obesity. The Whitehall II study followed 10,308 patients and found that eating sweets is associated with a 23 percent increase in the risk of developing a mental disorder. Other studies support a vegan or vegetarian diet as the best anti-depressant diet.
2. Exercise and Meditation
Yoga corrects your autonomic nervous system, lowers your stress level, gets blood flowing to your organs, increases muscle mass and balance.
3. Supplements and Herbs
Omega 3 essential fatty acids, phosphatidyl choline, Taurine, 5- HTP, vitamin C, vitamin B, vitamin D3, zinc and magnesium can all be helpful in restoring the balance of your brain neurotransmitters and energy cycle. Low-dose lithium can be found over the counter as a tincture and can act as a wonderful mood stabilizer. St. John’s wort is equivalent to a small dose of an SSRI and may alleviate depression. Rhodiola may be effective in alleviating stress-related depression. CBD oil from hemp plant may provide relief from anxiety and help you relax and sleep.
4. Healing the Gut
Most serotonin is produced in the gut by good gut flora. Leaky gut or intestinal permeability must be addressed since it can prevent the production of good gut bacteria.
5. Removing Toxins
Heavy metals can disrupt your brain chemistry, impacting how the neurotransmitters and hormones work together.
6. Restoring Hormone Balance
The thyroid and sex hormones, and the stress hormone cortisol all play important roles in your mood and sleep. Special attention needs to be given to your individual hormone balance. Bioidentical hormone therapy may be an option to address depression and anxiety, and pose less risk than synthetic hormones. Growth hormone peptides can also offer better deep wave sleep and increase brain and body repair and recovery.
7. Ketamine IV Therapy
For patients suffering treatment-resistant depression, ketamine can offer relief. However, many patients experience uncomfortable dissociative symptoms and there is some potential for abuse so it must be administered under proper supervision by a medical doctor.
8. NAD+ IV Therapy:
Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide prevents and corrects damaged DNA and helps slow down age-associated functional defects. Low NAD levels in your body are associated with chronic fatigue, weakness, pain, anxiety, depression and insomnia. When NAD is administered intravenously, it boosts energy and metabolism, can relieve mood disturbances and pain, and improve memory.
Those suffering from anxiety and depression may want to consider a functional medicine approach to the problem: addressing and working to resolve the root causes.