It has been estimated that as many as 30% of people suffer from this prevalent but little understood illness.
After years of suspicion we now know that drug antidepressants are of little value. Indeed they are no more effective than a sugar tablet, but can have serious side effects such as increasing the chance of suicide.
So there must be a better way in dealing with this issue that touches millions. Indeed research is uncovering a new role for vitamin, mineral and natural medicines in dealing with this disease.
What is it?
Depression is much more than just feeling blue: it is a devastating illness that affects every aspect of a person’s life – physical, mental and emotional.
It influences a sufferer’s self-esteem and perception of others. A person with depression has difficulty in performing ordinary daily activities that we may take for granted.
There are various forms of depression, ranging from mild, long-term melancholy to alternating moods of elation and sadness (bipolar or manic depression) to the most serious form, despair.
The last leads to a total inability to function, and may even give rise to thoughts of suicide.
What causes it?
Depression doesn’t seem to have a single underlying cause, although experts believe it is caused by an imbalance in the brain’s production of neurotransmitters – chemical messengers that send signals from one nerve to another.
A depressive episode can be triggered by the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, a divorce, a life-threatening illness, or any other serious difficulty.
Stress, reaction to medication (such as beta-blockers), shortage of daylight in winter, over-consumption or alcohol, smoking, food allergies and nutritional deficiencies may also contribute to depression.
Dysfunctional ways of coping with anger, guilt and other emotions may be involved as well.
What are the symptoms?
- Persistent sad or ’empty’ mood.
- Loss of pleasure in ordinary activities, including sex.
- Sleep disturbances, decreased energy, fatigue.
- Poor or increased appetite; weight loss or weight gain.
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness.
- Difficulty in concentrating, irritability, excessive crying.
- Chronic aches and pains.
- Thoughts of death or suicide.
How do You get Off the Antidepressants?
Everyone afflicted, even those on antidepressants, can benefit from the natural medicines and lifestyle changes listed in this section.
It is recommended that people taking prescription drugs for depression should never take any form of natural medicines – which unfortunately is more about maintaining market share than helping the patient.
If you are on prescription drugs for depression, one of the best ways to help you get off them is to use the appropriate natural medicine and consult with an appropriate health care professional that can guide you through the process.
This is not going to happen at your local GP in a 6 minute consultation where you leave with another script for Prozac.
Antidepressants are a drug of addiction and very hard to get off.
You need to be very clear about why you coming off antidepressants and how you are going to do it.
It will take 2 to 3 months to get off antidepressant drug medication, as this is the time it will take to wash out of the system.
And hardest of all you will need to identify the source of your upset and attempt to deal with it – or put it behind you and get on with your life.
Remember worry about the things you can change and accept the things you can’t.
What Natural Medicines to Use?
Low levels of the B vitamins and Vitamin C have been associated with depression. All aid in the brain’s production of neurotransmitters and may enhance the effectiveness of natural medicine.
The herb St John’s wort may be a beneficial and safe alternative to prescription drugs, which often have side effects. For some people, Ginkgo Biloba appears to combat depression better than St John’s wort, and may be used instead.
The amino acid L-Tyrosine seems to improve mood. For severe depression, it can be combined with St John’s wort or ginkgo. Kava can be used alone or with St John’s wort, ginkgo biloba or L-Tyrosine if you’re depressed.
Individual Products that we recommend include:
- Phytomedicine Lavandula Compound
- Blackmores St John’s Wort
- Thompson’s Mood Manager
- Musashi L-Tyrosine
Pharmaceutical antidepressants aren’t the best way to conquer oursociety’s depression and anxiety epidemic, and they often havedisastrous side effects, sometimes even increasing the risk forsuicide.
Taking the population as a whole, we’re 100 times more depressedtoday than we were 100 years ago. Furthermore, panic attacks are a contributing factor to chest pains and elevated blood pressure, particularly in women.
Four brain chemicals — Serotonin, Catecholamine, GABA and Endorphin– are essential for proper mental health, each affecting a differentarea of the brain.
Some of us, unfortunately, have a genetic predisposition to lacksome of these chemicals. Additionally, the modern mainstream diet is deficientin the amino acids that our brains need to make these neurotransmitters – particularly if you are eating a lot of processed food.
As a result of these factors, incidence of depression and anxiety has reached epidemic proportions. As a society, we just don’t have the coping ability we should have.
Even if things aren’t going well, we can still feel good anyway, butwe’re not.
Fortunately, these amino acids are available on Emed, andwith the dietary modifications and life style changes you will have thetools to change your life.
Let’s take a look at the neurotransmitters, what they do and what you can do to supplement them if necessary.
Type One False Mood and Appetite: Low in Serotonin, our natural antidepressant
- Negativity, depression
- Worry, anxiety
- Low self-esteem
- Repetitious, obsessive thoughts or behaviours
- Irritability, rage
- Disturbed sleep
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Panic attacks
- Seasonal Affective Disorder, or “winter blues”
- Fibromyalgia or Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) issues
- Afternoon or evening cravings for carbohydrates (bread, pastas, biscuits, pies, sweets, pastries), alcohol or drugs
- Dislike of hot weather
If you have many of the symptoms associated with the type one false mood and appetite, you are probably deficient in serotonin, which is the most common neurotransmitter deficiency affecting western cultures.
Serotonin is important as a natural antidepressant; however, it is additionally important because the brain uses serotonin to make melatonin, which is an important chemical for sleeping.
In fact, the serotonin-melatonin connection is one of the primary reasons that depressed people often have sleep disorders.
If your brain lacks proper serotonin, pharmaceutical antidepressants like Prozac won’t fix the underlying deficiency. Rather than boosting your actual serotonin levels, antidepressants just make the serotonin already existing in your brain more active.
The real solution to serotonin deficiency is Tryptophan, which the brain can use to make serotonin within 10 minutes.
People who score high on the type 1 portion of the false mood questionnaire should take 50 milligrams of a specific form of tryptophan called 5-HTP or 500 milligrams of l-tryptophan mid-afternoon and evening.
Compared to L-Tryptophan, less 5-HTP is required to get the same effects because, unlike regular tryptophan, the body only uses 5-HTP to make serotonin; it is not metabolised in the stomach.
If you eat protein three times per day and take the tryptophan supplements, in a few weeks (for children) to one year (for people exceptionally low serotonin production), your serotonin will be restored or begin to normalise
Incidentally, this is true for all the brain chemical-boosting supplements: If you eat meals containing 20 to 30 grams of protein at least three times per day and take the appropriate natural medicine, eventually the brain chemicals you are targeting will be high enough for you to review your supplement intake.
As long as you maintain a diet with meals containing protein adequate foods. This is the reason we developed the Wellness Protocol and the optimal nutrition programs on Emed.They from the foundation for better health both mentally and physically.
Type Two False Mood and Appetite: Low in Catecholamine, our natural stimulant
- Depressed, bored or apathetic
- Lack of energy or motivation
- Inability to concentrate or focus; ADD
- Cravings for chocolate, caffeine or other stimulants
If you have the symptoms associated with the second type of false mood and appetite, you probably lack catecholamine.
In fact, this deficiency seems to account for the popularity of coffee and other stimulants.
A lot of people are unable to naturally produce caffeine because we eat too many high-glycemic carbohydrates. As a result, we turn to coffee and chocolate for caffeine, but what we should really be turning to is L-Tyrosine.
If you follow a protein adequate diet and take 500 milligrams of L-Tyrosine when you wake up, mid-morning and, if you don’t have insomnia, again mid-afternoon, eventually your brain will contain enough catecholamine for you to function without supplements or a coffee or chocolate caffeine fix.
Type Three False Mood and Appetite: Low in GABA, our natural tranquilizer
- Feel overstressed, burned out or overwhelmed
- Unable to relax
- Feel stiff or tense
- Cravings for food, alcohol or drugs when stressed
If the symptoms listed under the third type of false mood apply to you, you’re probably deficient in GABA, the brain’s natural tranquilizer.
You don’t have to worry about the supplement making you overly sleepy during the day, as GABA supplements have a small amount of tyrosine in them to counteract daytime sleepiness.
Type Four False Mood and Appetite: Low in Endorphin, our natural painkiller
- Sensitive to emotional pain or have had chronic physical pain
- Cry easily, often sad
- Crave comforting or numbing behaviours or substances, certain foods, drugs or alcohol
If you experience the symptoms associated with the fourth type of false mood and appetite, you’re probably deificent in endorphins.
Since the brain requires 19 different amino acids to build them, a protein-adequate diet is essential for proper endorphin levels.
Luckily, the amino acid DL-Phenylalanine (DLPA) slows down the brain’s destruction of endorphins, so 500 milligrams of DL-Phenylalanine taken when first waking up, mid-morning and mid-afternoon, along with 700 milligrams of free-form amino blend taken before meals, is enough to keep a proper amount of endorphins in the brain.
For all types of false mood and appetite
In addition to taking supplements to relieve your particular type of false mood and appetite, you must follow a healthy protein adequate diet.
This includes eating at least three to six meals per day, each including 20 to 30 grams of protein, low-carb vegetables (totalling at least four cups a day) and healthy fats, including flaxseed oil.
You should avoid foods made with refined white flour and white sugar, as well as allergens and caffeine.
As long as you maintain a diet with meals containing protein adequate foods you will help provide the amino acids required for correct brain neurotransmitters. For more information make sure you read the Wellness Protocol and the optimal nutrition program.
What can I do?
- Eat well and supplement well. Begin with a good multimineral and multivitamin. We stock the best on the market. This is the first step.B Group Vitamins are essential for the optimum function of theimmune system. Healthy levels of these vitamins have shown to helpreduce anxiety, stress and feelings of depression.
- Increase your consumption of cold water fish and/or use a comprehensive fish oil. Preferably use an increased amount of DHA omega 3 fatty acids as they are important in the health of the brain and mood level.
- Get out in the sun – In Australia with the Skin Cancer Campaigns, many people are increasingly vitamin-D deficient. Vitamin D is important for controlling and regulating depression. Controlled, regular exposure to the sun (without burning) is an easy and free way to increase your serotonin levels.
- Acupuncture is well documented to improve serotonin and endorphine levels. I have seen this many times in the practices, with some startling results. Make sure you consult with a registered practitioner with TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) training.
- Ensure that you are getting enough Chromium in your diet. Chromium is a trace mineral that stabilises blood glucose levels, aiding in mood elevation and general well-being.
- L-Glutamine maintains proper blood sugar in the brain, so it prevents carb cravings and reduces associated moodiness.
- Exercise regularly. This may be the best natural antidepressant.
- Avoid tobacco, excessive caffeine and alcohol.
There is a way to scientifically and specifically measure the levels of neurotransmitters and amino acids within your body.
The test is called the Optimal Nutrition Evaluation or ONE.
Even if you are eating a ‘balanced’ or healthy diet and takingsupplements, you could still lack vital and necessary nutrition. TheONE test will help you understand your individual diet, nutritional andsupplement needs.
The ONE test assess your functional needs for nutrients, amino acids and oxidative stresses.
This unique profile:
- Requires only one first morning void urine sample with easy ‘at-home’ collection
- Evaluates the your complete overall nutritional status
- Assess the functional need for vitamins and minerals
- Includes an innovative ‘Interpretation at a glance’, providing clear, personalised recommendations for supplementation on:
- B Group Vitamins
- Amino Acids
So if you are considering using a natural medicine, using a neurotransmitter or changing your amino acid intake please consider the ONE test so that you take the correct levels.
Follow the link for more information about the Emed Optimal Nutrition Evaluation (ONE)
Finally, there is a way to scientifically and specifically measure the levels of essential fatty acids within your body. Essential fatty acids such as fish oil and borage oil can have a significant impact on levels of depression.
Specific measurement of essential fatty acids within your blood is possible through Emed using our Essential Fatty Acid Test.
With the fatty acid levels measured in your blood we will be able to prescribe the correct amount for you to assist you in the management of depression.
Follow the link for more information about the Emed Essential Fatty Acid Test.
Recent studies have revealed that inflammation, amount other factors, may be involved in the pathogenesis of depression.
Current research suggests depression is frequently associated with gastrointestinal inflammation and autoimmune disease, in which chronic low-grade inflammation is a significant contributing factor.
For this reason, depression may be a neuropsychiatric manifestation of a chronic inflammatory syndrome.
Treating gastrointestinal inflammation with probiotics, vitamin D, B vitamins and omega-3s may have a flow-on effect of attenuating pro-inflammatory stimuli to the brain and thus improve depression symptoms and quality of life.
These finding, according to the researchers, justify an assumption that treating gastrointestinal inflammation may improve the efficacy of current treatments for depression and related disorders.
Antidepressant drugs, including the best-selling Prozac, simply donot work as advertised, according to a comprehensive review by U.S. andCanadian researchers.
After examining all data available for the drugs — includingclinical trials that manufacturers did not publish at the time — itwas found that patients taking the drugs improved just as much as thosetaking placebo pills. This study is unique as it is the first time all data was used for the antidepressants Prozac, Seroxat,Effexor, and Serzone.
A new study from the University of Melbourne has shown that women who have a higher intake of junk food may suffer from higher rates of depression and anxiety.
A ‘Western’ diet is typical amongst Australians, with diets consisting of hamburgers, white bread, pizza, chips, soft drinks and lollies. This new study shows that women who had a higher the intake of this food, also had a higher chance of developing depression. Here’s another reason why we need to change our dietary habits.
A diagnosis of depression often results in a prescription for anti-depressants.
Is this the most effective approach?
New research indicates that for mild to moderate cases of depression, the use of anti-depressants is not even a band-aid solution.
Ever suffered from depression but had no relief from anti-depressants?
You may be suffering from Pyroluria.
If you’ve never heard of this condition, your are not alone. Chances are your doctor hasn’t heard of it either.
This condition is more common than you would think and it is estimated as high as 20% of all psychiatric patients and 40% of people with schizophrenia have Pyroluria.
Emed explains how a nutritional deficiency can be mistaken for a mental illness.
Is your mood being affected by the wintery weather?
S.A.D or ‘Seasonal Affective Disorder’ is becoming a more common condition nowadays and can have seriously negative effects on your health during the colder months.
Read on to find out what may be causing this condition and better yet- easy ways to beat it naturally!
Next time you down a caffeinated drink, eat a sugary snack or feast on some fast food, consider the effect this is having on your mental health.
While there is no visible connection between what you eat and how you feel, don’t be fooled – everything you put in your mouth has an impact on the way your brain functions and your capacity to regulate mood.
This article sheds light on the crucial role of dietary choices and nutrition in the management of, and recovery from mood disorders.
In Part 1 of our Diet and Mental Health series, you learnt how the dietary choices you make have a strong impact on your mood by affecting inflammation, blood sugar regulation and hormone balance.
This week, we look at some causes of mood disorders that involve more of a genetic or inherited component, but can still be modified by nutrition.
These include Pyroluria and Methylation abnormalities, as well as Monoamine (neurotransmitter) depletion, the current medical model for depression.
Researchers have reported new findings on the efficacy of antidepressants for bipolar disorder at the American Psychiatric Association's 2013 Annual Meeting in May.
Study results showed that antidepressant therapy, specifically with Effexor – an SNRI medication, is ineffective for bipolar patients with a history of hospitalisation.
At worst, it could cause harm to these patients by increasing hospital readmission rates and should prompt clinicians to carefully consider antidepressant use for bipolar depression.
Research findings over the last few years have alerted health professionals to a previously unknown health risk associated with anti-depressant medications – osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is a bone condition involving bone density loss and increased risk of fracture. It is expected to increase in prevalence as our population pyramid shifts towards old age.
At the same time, prescription of SSRI anti-depressant medications is also increasing, and may be playing a role in osteoporosis risk.
Here we examine the latest evidence on SSRIs and provide you with simple and straightforward suggestions to safeguard your bone health.