Do you like to sing the blues? If this describes you, you are not alone. Doctors are handing out antidepressant prescriptions like candy. Unfortunately, depression is the most commonly reported side effect of these popular drugs.
Depression is a misunderstood, misdiagnosed, and frequently mistreated illness. So, let's look at some of the causes of depression and offer some natural alternatives to the prescription drug industry.
Once named "melancholia", shamans and sages felt that bad thoughts or demons caused the disorder. Our current understanding of depression stems from research on chemicals known as neurotransmitters. Here's how these chemicals work.
A'synapse' is the point at which two nerves connect and exchange information. This synaptic region is filled with fluid in which neurotransmitters travel and transmit information from one nerve to another. When one nerve releases a neurotransmitter, the receptor on the other nerve accepts and processes the information.
When the receptor is stimulated by this chemical message, the neurotransmitter is either returned to the originating nerve for recycling or destroyed. The apologies for the delay in this post. This is accomplished by enzymes such as monamine oxidase (MAO).
In order to send the next message, the nerves must replenish their supply of neurotransmitters. This can be accomplished by reabsorbing the previously released neurotransmitters (a process called reuptake) or by manufacturing a new supply. Neurotransmitters are synthesized from amino acids with the help of vitamins and minerals.
Medical Treatments for Depression
Modern scientists believe that during depression, there may be a neurotransmitter imbalance, either a depleted supply or an excess supply. Serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine are among the neurotransmitters thought to be involved in depression. When one of these chemicals runs out, the nerve is unable to send signals properly. The wording is a little different, but it's the same idea.
Today's antidepressant drugs are all designed to alter neurotransmitters in some fashion. Tricyclic drugs, also known as MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors), first appeared on the market in the 1940s. These drugs inhibited the previously mentioned enzyme that degrades some of these neurotransmitters. Although this method worked for some, it had serious side effects, including death, for others. In some cases, people who were depressed developed anxiety, and vice versa.
Prozac, an SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor), was introduced into the market in 1988. Soon 22 million Americans were taking the drug. With Prozac's fad popularity, more antidepressant drugs quickly appeared on the market.
Antidepressants like Wellbutrin and Zyban work by preventing serotonin and dopamine reuptake. Serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine are all inhibited by Effexor. SSRIs like Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft cause more serotonin to remain in synapses for longer periods of time.
All of these medications have numerous side effects. For starters, they mask the real causes of depression, which relate to diet, exercise, stress and unresolved emotional issues. Patients are given a false sense of reality and often feel detached and indifferent to family, friends, and the environment rather than making appropriate lifestyle adjustments or dealing with life's issues.
These drugs have also been linked to joint pain, abnormal blood cell counts, sexual dysfunction, and changes in appetite/weight. An overdose or a faulty interaction with another drug can also cause hallucinations, irregular heartbeat, and seizures from an SSRI. In an odd irony, depression is one of these drugs' most common side effects.
Prescription medication is a common cause of depression. Your busy family doctor may overlook the possibility that the antibiotic or antihistamine you're taking is the source of your "down and out." Diuretics, beta-blockers, hormone replacement therapies, pain relievers, sleep aids, Tagamet, and Zantac can all cause a neurotransmitter imbalance, which can make your days gray. You can see how important it is to educate yourself about medications and supplements that you use.
Natural Remedies for Depression
Diet is important in the treatment of depression. A lack of amino acids or B-complex vitamins leads to a lack of neurotransmitters. Tyrosine and phenylalanine both increase norepinephrine levels, which have been shown to improve mood in depression and anxiety case studies. The term "electronic commerce" refers to the sale of electronic goods.
Protein is vitalized to produce amino acids. Meat that has been overcooked is not a good source of amino acids. Furthermore, many people have problems with protein digestion. Protease and high quality vegetable or animal protein sources can help here, as can Super Algae or Ultimate Green Zone.
Because B-vitamins are essential for neurotransmitter synthesis, B-complex has remarkable results for many patients. Dr. Peter D'Adamo has successfully treated depression, hyperactivity and Attention Deficit Disorder in many O Blood Types with high doses of folic acid and B12. One should always make sure to incorporate a B-complex when taking a single B vitamin.
Essential fatty acids (flax seed oil, Super Omega 3 EPA, etc.) are also important to nerve function and may help depression and other nervous system disorders.
Where depression is associated with anxiety, kava kava or St. John's wort may help to eliminate nervous tension. Nutri-Calm is an excellent source of B-vitamins and also contains herbs and nutrients to help anxiety.
Since 1976, s-adenosyl l-methionin (SAM) has improved mood, reduced suicidal ideation, and increased intellectual performance. This improvement was noted in approximately 80% of the cases. This is as effective as clomipramine and amitriptyline.
For individuals who have already been subject to synthetic antidepressants, it is essential that you wean yourself gradually from these drugs while transitioning to other therapies. The abrupt loss of said chemicals can sometimes contribute to a deeper and more disturbing condition for the depression sufferer.
Using products like Adrenal Support and Licorice to balance the adrenals may be beneficial. While transitioning, it is vital to keep the bowel and liver in good condition in order to aid in elimination of wastes and to support the other organs in their responsibilities as well.
We've been led to believe that if we're not giddy and full of laughter all the time, we're depressed. It is up to you to know the difference between being a little blue and having depression. It is normal and natural to feel "blue" after experiencing loss, sadness, or setbacks. The key here is to find a positive solution to our current life situation so that we can move forward.
In many cases, no medication is required at all. Sometimes our "down" time is simply a chance to rest and reflect. Keeping a journal, exercising, making dietary changes, getting plenty of fresh air every day, talking to a trusted friend or advisor, and taking a few supplements can work wonders.
Supplements for Antidepressants
The supplements that will work best for you will depend on what is causing your depression. Here are some of the common causes and remedies that can help.
As a precursor to serotonin, 5-HTP (5-HTP Power) aids in balancing mood and regulating sleep patterns.
In recent years, St. John's wort has been widely touted as a natural product for mild to moderate depression. St. John's wort has antidepressant properties, but it is most effective for depression associated with anxiety.
Kava Kava relaxes muscles and targets the limbic system in the brain. It promotes a calm, mentally alert state, as well as a sense of well-being.
High cortisol levels caused by chronic stress may contribute to feelings of anxiety and "blueness." Adaptogens like eleuthero root and SUMA Combination can help reduce stress and soothe distressed feelings.
Licorice root supports adrenal function and may aid in blood sugar balance. This can aid in mood stabilization.
For depression caused by PMS, menopause, or childbirth, black cohosh can be an effective antidepressant. It is also an effective antidepressant for women who are feeling "trapped." Damiana is another mood booster that can treat depression caused by low reproductive hormones in both men and women.
Taking 2000 IU of Vitamin D3 per day can significantly improve seasonal depression. Seasonal depression can also benefit from St. John's wort.
Folk medicine has long recognized a link between depression and liver and digestive function. In traditional Western medicine, constipation was thought to cause melancholy. Recent research indicates that this viewpoint has scientific validity, as the bowel produces more serotonin than the brain. The colon contains 95% of the body's serotonin receptor sites. Because of this, intestinal irritants and a high sugar diet can lead to depression.
The Chinese formula Mood Elevator is particularly effective for depression. This formula improves sagging energy, sadness, and low spirits. It decongests the digestive organs and liver, and helps calm anxiety.
The thyroid plays an elemental function in this physiology. Depression, a symptom of hypothyroidism, is frequently misdiagnosed. Depression is observed in 40% of hypothyroid patients and is sometimes the first diagnosis. If a group of depressed people were tested, 10-15% of them would be found to have a thyroid disorder.
In many cases, iodine (found in Liquid Dulse, concentrated black walnut, Thyroid Activator, and TS II with Hops) can alleviate depression and reverse hypothyroidism. Thyroid Support may also be beneficial.
While working on the physical side of depression, it is critical to address any emotional causes of it. To help heal emotional issues, use flower essences or essential oils, and consult with a qualified therapist to help identify triggers or causes.
A comprehensive list of possible depression treatments follows.
Herbal Formulas: Mood Elevator, Chinese, Stress-J, Thyroid Activator (KC-X), Trigger Immune®, Blood Stimulator, Chinese, Energ-V, AdaptaMax, SUMA Combination, Nervous Fatigue, Chinese (HS-C), Stress Relief, Chinese, TS II w/Hops (TS II)
Flower Essences: Find Strength
Herbal Extracts: 5-HTP Power