Most people will have experienced a sense of deep depression, the unsettling feeling of anxiety, or just felt not yourself. It is a natural state among the broad array of human emotions that we experience. However, when these feelings don’t shift, even when your outside environment is balanced, your quality of life is dramatically impacted professionally, personally, and socially.
Many people turn to their doctor for help, and the common treatment is antidepressant or antianxiety medications called SSRIs, SNRIs or MAOIs, usually coupled with counselling therapy.
These medications are often reported to have little positive impact, have their own negative side effects, and can be hard to stop taking because the body become dependent on them. If you are on medication and want to come off, please work with your naturopath for nutritional support, and your prescribing doctor when changing dosage. Depending on which class of drug you are on, we can give your body the support it needs to adapt which usually takes 4 – 6 weeks.
As Naturopaths, we look at the body as a whole, and there are several factors we consider if you are experiencing low mood or anxiety.
- Adrenal health – especially relevant if you are menopausal as the adrenal glands have a larger role to play in hormone output in menopause. Feelings of depression may be linked to low DHEA, adrenaline noradrenaline and dopamine production. If you have fatigue, low adrenal output may be the driving factor for you too.
- Inflammation – new research has identified that depression often correlates with inflammation in the body. SSRI’s actually have an anti-inflammatory effect, which explains why they work well for SOME people. The real question should be – why is there inflammation in the first place? Common drivers for inflammation are; food intolerances, poor gut health, sleep deprivation, chronic infection and stress.
- Nutrient Deficiency – Nutrient deficiencies are often right at the core of mood disorders, starting with inadequate PROTIEN in the diet. Key nutrients for healthy moods include: Vitamin D, Zinc, Magnesium, 5MTHF (active vitamin B9), B1, B6, B12 and vitamin C.
- Weak digestion – Protein is the building block upon which all the neurotransmitters are created. We need adequate stomach acid production to break apart the protein into amino acids. If you suffer reflux, then this is a priority point for you. Weak digestion is often linked to low Zinc and vitamin B6, and poor liver health.
- Genetic factors – Pyroluria is a genetic factor that causes excessive nutrient loss when you are under stress. The main nutrients affected are zinc, vitamin B6 and arachidonic acid – a long-chain omega-6 fat.
- Chronic stress – when you are constantly in ‘fight or flight’ mode, your body uses A LOT of nutrients to produce adrenaline. Eventually the nutrient pool in the body gets low, and other neurotransmitters ‘miss out’ on their share of nutrients. Serotonin production lowers, causing feelings of ‘what’s the point’, ‘why bother’ or even suicidal thoughts. Melatonin production become affected, creating light, broken sleep or insomnia. GABA production decreases, causing anxiety, a ‘wired’ nervous system, and reactive bowels. High doses of bioavailable nutrients are needed to give back what the body needs.
- Gut dysbiosis – Did you know that we also get ‘gifted’ neurotransmitters from bacteria that live in our bowel? E. coli produces a number of important metabolites that directly impact your mood. Pathogenic bacteria interrupt good health by stealing food that our good bacteria use to make tryptophan (the pre-cursor to serotonin). Increasing the diversity of bacteria in the bowel with supplementation and pre and probiotic foods will repopulate the bowel with ‘good’ bacteria. We use Mutaflor in the clinic, a beneficial strain of E. coli that positively affects mood, immune system response, inflammation, and helps remodel the entire colony in the gut. Ask your practitioner for more information.
- Heavy metals – Excess metals can be a problem because they block the absorption of useful nutrients, exacerbating a nutrient deficiency over time. Common metal loads we see include mercury, aluminium, copper and silver. Lithium is a metal that we need for mental health. Deficiency in Lithium can be caused by mercury, copper and antimony excess in the body. Severe deficiency is associated by bipolar and depressive disorder.
Sleep disorder linked with depression
Issues with sleep are usually complex, but if the driving factor behind it is low melatonin that doesn’t resolve with magnesium supplementation, your serotonin might need boosting.
5-Hydroxytryptophan (5HTP) is the amino acid that makes serotonin – our positivity neurotransmitter. Serotonin converts to Melatonin – our sleep neurotransmitter. Supplementing 5HTP with other necessary nutrients can bring fast results for not only improved sleep, but better moods too.
As you can see, the driving mechanisms behind disease can be hidden and complex, requiring good investigation and specialised knowledge to correct. There is a time and place to use a ‘bandaid’ approach, but a truly holistic approach has the best chance to result in authentic vibrant health naturally.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tanya is an avid animal lover and believes in the healing power of nature. She initially saw the healing power of natural medicine working with animals when pharmaceuticals could no longer help a very unwell dog. The transformation from sickness to health inspired her to understand the mechanisms behind the healing response.
She later undertook a four year Advanced Diploma of Naturopathy and sought mentors in the field with exceptional experience and knowledge.
Tanya has also faced cancer herself, and cared for a loved one with cancer. She understands the importance of collaborating with specialists and using the best health options at our disposal. She successfully has used conventional medicine in combination with natural medicine to return to health and is cancer free. She now uses natural medicine to treat any ongoing side effects from conventional intervention including, but limited to, nutrition, herbal medicine, acupuncture, scenar therapy and homeopathy.
She believes in finding the root cause behind her patients presentation and empowers her patients to take ownership of their health and tune into their own body wisdom.
Tanya is passionate about her career and enjoys keeping up to date with science based research, professional seminars, and collaborating with other health professionals. She is a fully registered and insured Naturopath who takes each person as a unique being which requires a unique treatment approach suited to their personal, emotional, and physical needs.
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