Depression is the most common adult psychiatric disorder, and it is on the rise worldwide. Mood disorders affect 19 million Americans and we spend over $20 billion on treatment. Depression is a combination of genetic, biochemical, environmental, and psychological factors. It is often closely tied to disease. Illnesses may precede the depression, cause it, and/or be a consequence of it.
A poor diet high in processed carbohydrates, simple sugars, alcohol and caffeine, has been found to contribute to biochemical imbalances that exacerbate and/or cause depression. Stimulants such as nicotine, caffeine, and sugar, trigger the release of epinephrine (adrenaline), cortisol and opiates, which ultimately leading to a desensitization of the brain to these chemicals. Over time, the body becomes accustomed to receiving its biochemical stimulation from foods and substances, thereby decreasing the system's natural ability to provide this function for energy, mood and stress management. The outcome often results in an "addiction" to the food and/or substance by the individual. Upon initial elimination of stimulants, a person will go through a brief "withdrawal" period in the form of sugar cravings, headache, fatigue and/or depression because the body has become so dependent on the substance that it is not longer able to achieve balance on its own. However, the effects of withdrawal can be significantly moderated through using specific therapeutic supplements to "reset" the body's natural function.
In addition, many of these stimulants will also leach nutrients such as B vitamins and chromium from the body which are responsible for energy, mood and blood sugar balance collectively.top
Underlying Origins of Depression
Manic episodes alternating with deep depression; excessive self-reproach and guilt; fatigue; unusual drowsiness; sleeping too much or not enough; inability to think and disorientation; memory loss; wired feeling; paranoia attacks; headaches; sweating, palpitations; loss of interest in pleasure; poor food absorption and significant weight loss even if meals are good; recurrent thoughts of death or suicide; loss of appetite.top
Biochemical imbalance triggered by: underlying emotional distress, blood sugar imbalance, sugar or alcohol dependency; chemical or food allergies; glandular imbalance with high copper levels; drug abuse; insomnia; hypothyroidism; prescription drug addiction or intolerance; negative emotions; the inability to cope with prolonged and intense stress.top
The natural approach to treating depression is to address the underlying root cause and eliminate it (online or in person). Unlike medications which simply manage the symptoms, a natural approach has the potential to not only resolve the imbalance, but to prevent unwanted side effects as well. Natural treatment involves four main components: addressing the underlying emotional state of the individual, dietary intake, sleep quality and the state of biochemical/nutritional imbalance.
On an emotional level, the body may become "programmed" to react to the internalization of negatives emotions, self-talk or subconscious signaling. In fact, we may be so programmed that it becomes a habit to circulate negative emotions throughout our bodies. The end result of harboring these negative emotions is a physical and a biochemical shift that wreaks havoc on the brain, metabolism, adrenal glands and the immune system. Working on the emotional system can take time, as the body has become accustomed to being a certain state of mind and body. Therapies such as yoga, reiki, meditation, bodywork, exercise, acupuncture and counseling are wonderful outlets for working through these emotional blockages and "reprogramming" the way in which your body functions on a deep, core level.
Optimization of dietary intake involves determining the foods that are right for your body and promoting optimal blood sugar levels. Sleep function (insomnia) must be addressed through dietary intake, lifestyle and/or supplementation. The overall baseline biochemistry of the body can be seen once emotions, diet and sleep are addressed. If an imbalance is still present, additional amino acid supplementation and therapeutic vitamin/nutrient therapy will be recommended to support the body's natural function to achieve biochemical balance. For example, the neurotransmitter, dopamine, responsible for mood and mental focus is made from a network of reactions which start from the amino acids tyrosine and phenylalanine. Additionally, omega-3 fatty acids are known to be depleted in those suffering from depression.
It is important to note, however, that some supplements and amino acids may be contraindicated and cause negative reactions when taking certain medications. It is strongly advised that you work with a healthcare professional in determining the supplement plan that is right for you (online or in person)top
Ross, J. The Mood Cure New York: Viking: 2002
Rister S. Healing Without Medication. Laguna Beach, CA: Basic Health Publications, Inc; 2003: 219-227.
What causes depression. National Institute of Mental Health. 2009. Available at: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression/what-causes-depression.shtml. Accessed on October 22, 2009.top