It may be helpful to first read about
what causes depression,
in order to better comprehend Depression Treatment.
Depression is not a disease but it is a very pervasive health issue today and it can be a terminal illness. People commit suicide caused by depression to the tune of approximately one hundred per day, each and every day. Depression is a sign that your mind, body and your life are definitely out of balance.
The cause of depression is thought to be a disruption of the brain’s neurochemistry. Central norepinephrine neural pathways in the brain play a role in vigilance, motivation and energy levels. These pathways are associated with serotonin neural pathways, which are involved in controlling impulsivity, and share a role with the dopamine pathways in appetite, sex and aggression.
Many times depression and anxiety are brought about by environmental triggers, such as loss of a job, a marriage, a loved one plus a myriad of other emotional stresses. As a result, you may experience insomnia, or too much sleep; anxiety; changes in appetite; withdrawal from friends and social interaction; lack of interest; feelings of guilt; and lack of energy. All or any of these may indicate that you’re heading for a fall and if you can’t head it off, you may experience a depressive episode.
Our genetic makeup individualizes each of us with biochemical deficiencies or surpluses. We have a profile wherein one neurotransmitter dominates, which translates into physical and behavioral tendencies. We are genetically ninety nine per cent the same except for that one percent that sets us apart from each other. The key is to try to keep the neurotransmitters more or less balanced and not to allow a large gap between the most and the least dominant of them. Your profile, as well as these gaps, may be inherited and thus explain why certain health conditions may run in the family, i.e. heart disease, diabetes, depression, and ADD. You may learn more about this in Dr. Braverman’s book, The Edge Effect.
Depression is an established risk factor for the development of coronary heart disease (CHD). Dietary factors resulting in lower levels of omega 3 fats not only increase CHD risk, but may also cause depression.
I’ve read one resource who believes that depression, caused by low levels of Serotonin, is simply a marketing ploy for SSRI’s by drug companies. He believes that neurotransmitters are not measurable and that there is a lack of evidence to prove that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance of neurotransmitters. I’ve read many more sources that believe that all illness and disease are a direct result of bio-chemical imbalances. (4)
While neurotransmitters may or may not be measurable, Spect scans of the brain are able to show areas that are more active and less active and we know which neurotransmitters are responsible for ‘maintaining’ these areas of the brain, i.e. an indicator of which neurotransmitters are in excess and which are diminished. Autopsies apparently can measure Serotonin and the findings are that Serotonin in suicide victims is depleted or nonexistent. (3)
It is also possible that depression actually begins further up in the chain of events in the brain with the development and functioning of neurons. Scientists don’t seem to know what a normal serotonin level is or why some depressed people have high serotonin levels while many happy folks have low ones. The brain is far too complex for simplistic explanations.
Two Types of Depression
My Personal Experience
Six years ago I didn’t recognize myself or my son as depressed in any significant way, therefore, I didn’t have any real information or concern about depression.
Since then I’ve read and re-read several sources on depression and it is frustrating that there seems to be a lot of controversy out there about causes of depression, as well as treatment.
My first hand knowledge and experience with depression is twofold:
- My son’s relatively mild, yet chronic “blah” type depression relating to his Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), which was most likely caused by low dopamine.
Chad’s depression is common with Attention Deficit Disorder. The ‘blahs’ look like lack of concentration and focus, not feeling much of anything, you give in more often than react because reacting takes energy. Your sky is more or less colorless. (6)
Low stores of the catecholamines, dopamine, norepinephrine and adrenaline, hereinafter “cats”, may be inherited genetically or caused by stress. They are required to keep you in good fighting trim to prepare you for fight or flight. At the first sign of stress, your brain sends word to the response center in your adrenal glands. Cat messengers are made and sent throughout your body to prepare you by speeding up your heart, tensing muscles, and slowing breathing.
As your adrenals begin to burn out, you tend to use stress to mobilize the cats, especially adrenaline. (6) Chad was always a risk taker and lived on adrenaline. With addiction, Chad’s depression elevated to a serious condition in four short months ending with suicide. His immediate addiction to stimulants further drained his stores of already low dopamine and serotonin leaving him unable to cope with the self induced stress and ‘drug withdrawal induced’ severe depression.
Tyrosine is converted into the neurotransmitter norepinephrine, described as the brain's version of adrenaline. You can appreciate the power of norepinephrine when you realize that the high produced by cocaine comes from the drugs ability to activate norepinephrine while inhibiting serotonin. This causes the brain to race until the supply of norepinephrine is depleted. The crash leaves addicts exhausted, depressed, extremely irritable, and craving more cocaine. Crack symptoms are the same only extremely worse. Large doses of tyrosine can reduce withdrawal symptoms and prevent serious depression among cocaine addicts. The usual dose is three to six grams per day taken on an empty stomach with vitamin B6. (3)
- My own chronically mild depression further affected during a few of the winter months by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
According to the tests I’ve completed regarding my biochemical profile (Dr. Amen’s ‘Making a Good Brain Great’ and Dr. Braverman’s ‘The Edge Effect’), symptoms of my depression would seem to indicate an inherited tendency towards low production or chronic excessive use of serotonin, resulting in a constant deficit. Incidentally, women are inclined to make 52 percent less serotonin then men. Serotonin is called upon by your brain to soothe in times of stress. Some of the symptoms of low Serotonin may be negativity, irritability, anxiety, sleeplessness and or obsessive behavior.
With the final stress of losing my son after he’d already been missing for the better part of a year, I most likely was serotonin deplete and within a few months became suicidal myself. Like a mouse that had learned to push on a lever for a pellet of food, my brain must have been leaning on the Serotonin lever 24/7 and the already low supply was quickly exhausted.
The Journal of Biological Psychiatry, 1985 described how abnormal tryptophan and serotonin metabolism can cause impulsive acts of suicide and show that suicidal patients show significant decreases in serotonin levels. Eating disorders and violent behavior have also been traced to serotonin depletion. In one notable study it was found that a combination of tryptophan (2 grams nightly) and vitamin B6 (125 mg three times daily) could restore patients with anxiety type depression and sleep disturbances in four weeks.
I began taking anti-depressants two weeks prior to the time we found Chad’s body and continued for approximately six months. It’s difficult to measure their effectiveness since I can’t say what it would have been like without them and I was definitely afraid to find out. I can say that they certainly were not a ‘cure all’ but under the circumstances, this was a pretty tough test. Incidentally, I was under the care of a grief counselor and another counselor during this time.
My personal response to antidepressants was a feeling of being ‘flat lined’ to emotions- emotions that definitely needed to be expressed. When I became suicidal, I know that it was not the anti-depressant which prevented any further action; in fact, statistics indicate that in some cases, antidepressants may cause people to cross this threshold.
Pharmaceutical Antidepressants: How They Work
The two major neurotransmitters involved in preventing depression are:
- Serotonin, converted from the amino acid L-tryptophan, and
- Norepinephrine, converted from the amino acids L-phenylalanine and L-tyrosine (ADD-blahs type depression).
Antidepressants were actually designed to treat stress, not depression so even though these drugs may be in the ball game, they are out in left field. Most pharmaceutical drugs do nothing to replenish neurotransmitters but have the quality of blocking them instead. More than half of the people who take antidepressants for depression do not receive relief. (2)
There are essentially two types of Antidepressants and the above are based on firing one or both of these neurotransmitters into the brain:
Note: do not take tryptophan if you are taking MAO inhibitors or SSRI’s.
- MAO (Monamine Oxidase blockers); *
- SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) **
* The mood elevating neurotransmitter norepinephrine is inactivated by an enzyme called monamine oxidase (MAO) and when levels of this enzyme are high, the result is a decline in bioavailable norepinephrine, which can induce depression.
** SSRI drugs such as Zoloft, Paxil, Desyrel, Prozac, and Serzone do not raise Serotonin levels. Instead they trap what little you have and keep using it over in the brain sites, blocking it from returning to the neurotransmitters as it was designed to do. In other words, drugs like Prozac hot wire the serotonin neurotransmitter’s firing mechanism to artificially speed up the pumping of serotonin into the brain and blocks it from recalculating back to the transmitter. If you are running on empty, it won’t work for you. (3)
Serotonin and tryptophan are depleted by ongoing stress, genetics, alcohol and drugs. Now there is a whole family of serotonin stimulating drugs, but NONE of them can create an iota of serotonin. As a side note, in an interesting ‘coincidence’ Prozac made its first appearance in 1989 within days of the ban of tryptophan by the FDA which was placed in effect for the next ten years in only the United States from a contaminated product in Japan.
These antidepressants are designed to try to mitigate symptoms of low cats. Cats arouse and excite you emotionally, mentally and physically if you are not low or depleted such as is the case of Attention Deficit Disorder. Wellbutrin and simple uppers like Dexedrine, Adderall, and Ritalin try to mimic or amplify these cats. SSRIs Prozac and Zoloft, for the purpose of enhancing serotonin, also have cat stimulating effects. That’s why some people, high in cats but low in serotonin, find that these SSRIs make them jittery or sleepless. (6)
Side Effects of Antidepressants
We’ve seen how relatively ineffective antidepressants are. I have to roll my eyes every time I see a commercial on television advertising Abilify, an antipsychotic with seventy five different side effects. Drug companies came up with a new drug to add to the antidepressants that they admit are not helping two thirds of those taking them in the first place. It usually works this way in the pharmaceutical business. Doctors prescribe a drug, it has side affects and then they give you another drug to mitigate the side affects of the first drug.
The side effects of Antidepressants that you need to be aware of besides the warning list received from your pharmacists or as viewed on television commercials are:
- The first and most major risk is that you’ll convert from unipolar depression to bipolar depression. Whitaker says “One of the things we’ve seen with the use of the SSRIs is this incredible, extraordinary boom in bipolar diagnoses, and that is definitely tied to the widespread use of antidepressants. Something like 25 to 50 percent of all kids placed on an antidepressant, who stay on that antidepressant for five years will convert to bipolar illness. With adults it is 25 percent. (see 1 a below) (2)
- The brain develops down-regulations, causing receptors for serotonin to literally disappear from the brain, as high as 60% in regions of the brain involved in mental functioning. These abnormalizing agents may provoke manic episodes, sexual dysfunction or violence, acathisia and cognitive problems. It also perpetuates chronic usage of antidepressants. (see 2 a below) (2)
- What about long term effectiveness of antidepressants? According to Medical journalist and Pulitzer Prize nominee Robert Whitaker, “you find that even with major depression so severe people were hospitalized, before antidepressants, they could expect to get better. The episode would eventually pass.” With the usage of antidepressants, doctors are saying their patients may be getting better, faster, but they are noticing that they’re also relapsing more frequently than before. Long term studies indicate that 85 percent start having continuing relapses and become chronically depressed.
Giovanni Fava from Italy said, “Hey, listen, the course is changing with antidepressants. We’re changing it from an episodic illness to a chronic illness, and we really need to address this. Not only this, but depression is sinking into people in a deeper way than before.” Ross Baldessarini, a famous psycho pharmacologist at Harvard Medical School began asking whether or not these drugs may in fact be depressogenic (causing depression).
- Chronically depressed people who stay on antidepressants five, ten, or fifteen years, should be concerned about cognitive decline associated with that long term usage. No one is studying cognitive decline, so it is not being flushed out, but if you talk to these people they’ll often say, you know my memory is not very good anymore. (4) People who have the highest level of depressive symptoms have the highest level of cognitive impairment in all areas. (5)
- An increased risk of diabetes (2)
- A negative effect on your immune system (2)
- An increased risk of violent behavior, suicide and death (overall death rates have been found to be 32% higher in women on antidepressants). The link between suicide and antidepressants is so strong that these drugs have been mandated to have suicide warnings. (2)
- Risk of stroke may be 45% higher if you are on antidepressants (2)
- Brittle bones (2)
- Stillbirths and birth defects (2 as well as television ads)
- Miscellaneous and generic side effects for non-SSRI or tricyclic antidepressants may include dry mouth, dizziness, drowsiness, weight gain, and loss of libido.
Finding an effective treatment for depression is not something to approach lightly, and having the facts about what actually works and what doesn’t is imperative.
- a) Bipolar is a category where you’re often treated with a cocktail of medications, including an antipsychotic medication. Long term bipolar outcomes are really problematic in this country with only about 35 percent of bipolar patients sustaining employment. This says nothing of the likelihood of suicide. When you go on an antidepressant, you do have a risk of having a manic episode and that is a risk of becoming a bipolar patient.
- a) Neuroscientist Steven Hyman, head of the NIMH at the time and Provost of Harvard University explains once your brain has undergone these compensatory adaptations to the drug, your brain operates in a manner that is both qualitatively and quantitatively different than normal. It’s as if the drug is trying to put down the accelerator on serotonergic transmission and the brain tries to adapt to that by putting on the brakes. SSRI’s perturb neurotransmitters systems, it doesn’t balance them.
Antidepressants change the brain in two ways, the pre-synaptic neurons actually put out less serotonin and your post-synaptic neurons actually pair away the density of their serotonergic receptors. So, you start out with a normal serotonergic system and you actually physiologically end up with a low serotonergic state. In other words, if you do not have low serotonin levels when you’re depressed, but you start taking an SSRI drug that blocks the normal reuptake, you end up with the very physiological problem the drug is designed to treat-low serotonin levels.
Drugs versus Holistic: Pros and Cons
Every year, 230 million prescriptions for antidepressants are filled, making them one of the most prescribed drugs in the US. Despite this, one in twenty Americans is depressed according to the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention). Something is not working. (2)
Of those treated traditionally, research is showing that typically 60 percent of patients respond to antidepressant drugs, 80 percent if a second drug is added to the first. Recurrence of depression occurs in more than 70 percent of patients who are short term users.
I’ve read that: 1) only the severely depressed show any response to antidepressants and it is minimal; and 2) short term trials show that antidepressants do not provide any clinically significant benefits for mild to moderate depression, only 33 percent, the same as a placebo. Another therapy, ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) is effective for about 60 percent to 80 percent of depressed patients who have psychotic features or display active suicidal tendencies and do not respond to antidepressant chemotherapy. (2)
Sadly, it is estimated that depression goes undiagnosed 66 percent of the time. I believe that pharmaceutical drugs have many negative side effects but I can’t discount the fact that ‘no treatment’ sometimes results in far worse side effects, such as in my son’s case. I learned the hard way that the unsatisfactory treatment or ‘untreated’ disorder may have far reaching side affects considerably worse then those on the warning label.
For example, I worried about the side effects of Ritalin for my son but using supplements as an alternative was not a common practice. With 20/20 hindsight, I can see that ‘untreated’ Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD and ADHD), however, can result in worse negative side effects then sleeplessness, anger, lack of appetite and damage to organs; namely, it can lead to self medication, addition, death or injury from reckless behavior, or in Chad’s case, all of the above.
I try to be objective in providing information. In all fairness, you should know that my search led me to a more holistic approach, which you can see by my references. Therefore, most of the material in this website will be biased in that direction, particularly because it has been helpful for me. Having said that, after exploring and experimenting with holistic treatment for the past few years, I recognize that there is definitely a time and place when pharmaceutical treatment, with its more predictable and immediate results, may be preferable.
If you’ve read this far, you may be right for a more holistic approach. I’m assuming that if you have found this web site that: 1) antidepressants are not working for you; and/or 2) you are worried about the side effects and want to look at other options. I believe that people are beginning to finally take off their blinders are becoming responsible for their own health. The following information may be worth your consideration.
Success with a holistic approach may not be feasible for you or your loved one for the following reasons. A lot will depend on the person, their chemistry and lifestyle habits. For example, holistic cures that include using supplements, may not work for people who are not as disciplined to take supplements consistently and appropriately. By appropriately, I mean natural supplements may need to be taken:
- either with meals or on an empty stomach. Protocol must be followed for noticeable results;
- in the correct dosages; this is critical;
- with consistency;
- according to your genetic profile; and
- in conjunction with other means of mind/body/lifestyle balancing such as exercise, a nutritious diet, sufficient rest and stress relief.
I consider the above disciplines critical if you are to experience success. Even though I think that we now know enough about the disorders of ADD, ADHD, Addiction and depression to treat them with success holistically, keep in mind that:
- discipline and consistency is not the strong suit of someone experiencing symptoms of these conditions;
- someone who is ADD or depressed is probably not going to do the necessary research; and
- insurance, while it is slowly getting better, for the most part still pays for traditional medical attention and drugs, not holistic healing and supplements.
I can testify that the holistic approach is not inexpensive initially, but it can give you your life back and help you to not only function but experience joy and succeed in a whole new way that you didn’t know was possible.
Traditional Doctors usually don’t offer us a lot of alternative treatments because:
- the alternatives are time consuming;
- the results are less predictable; and
- most Doctors have been schooled by Pharmaceutical Companies and the Medical Journals are monopolized by Pharmaceutical Company funded studies; thus alternative medicine is not an area of expertise for most Doctors.
Therefore, most of us ‘take a pill’ and hope the long list of side effects won’t ‘happen to us.’ When push came to shove, I was no different.
I’ve talked to people who have experienced relief with anti-depressants. While they may not be experiencing what you would call ‘joy’, at least they are able to put one foot in front of the other and function in life. There is something to be said for that. Americans are ridiculed for our tendency toward instant gratification and our “just take a pill” solution to everything.
One of the problems is that when we are diagnosed with a hereditary condition, a disorder or a disease, many of us think that the only way to ‘fix’ it is to take drugs in conjunction with possible lifestyle changes which would mitigate the condition. At least that is what I thought. While this may be true, I believe that it is possible to balance your body chemistry and thus permanently change your condition. (See Dr. Braverman’s Book, The Edge Effect).
It helped me to understand this when I learned more about how conditions become labeled Disorders and/or diseases in the first place. I read that a psychiatric panel reviews common symptoms experienced by people; and particularly when there is a medication to treat these common traits, they vote subjectively to add these symptoms to the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) as disorders and/or diseases, even though they may not have been measured by empirical test results. So in essence, they are making diseases to fit the drugs, not the other way around. (2) This distinction helped me to see things differently for the first time as I was one of those people who thought if it was a hereditary condition, a disease or a disorder, you were just ‘stuck with it’.
If you decide that you are up for the challenge of a holistic approach, ideally, you’ll find a knowledgeable holistic provider; or for us ‘do it yourselfers’, be open to experimenting and doing the research necessary to find what works best for you. Sound like a lot of work? It can be but, as you begin to feel better, you become eager to maintain this new discipline in life, holding on to it like a life line.
One study by Duke University in the late 90’s divided depressed patients into three treatment groups:
- exercise only;
- Exercise plus antidepressant and
- Antidepressant drug only.
Findings: After 6 weeks, the drug only group was doing slightly better than the other two groups. After ten months of follow-up, it was the exercise only group that had the highest remission and stay-well rate.
The UK is taking these studies seriously and does not routinely recommend antidepressants as the first line of therapy for mild to moderate depression anymore. Twenty five percent of the UK Doctors now write a prescription to see an exercise counselor which allows a reduced rate at a gym for six months. This may also include ‘green gyms’ such as gardening outside, nature walks, repairing trails, and hiking. These patients are learning that they can control depression instead of being a victim to it.
Use your best judgment and seek the right help for your situation.
In order to bring balance back to your chemistry and your life, you may wish to take some or all of the following steps under consideration:
- Emotional Housekeeping
- Medical Testing
- Physical Exercise
- Supplement your Diet
- Stress Management
- The love of family and friends and a sense of belonging.
See below corresponding numbers in conjunction with the above:
- You may wish to seek counseling or other means of support. It's important to learn how to deal with your perceived failures and your losses, no matter how significant or insignificant they may seem. Learning to accept responsibility for your own life is key.
Knowing that your life is out of balance, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and try to determine the cause. Have you always been on the edge of depression? When did it start? Or is your depression likely circumstantial? Should you see a psychiatrist or receive counseling? This type of intervention, including interpersonal and cognitive behavioral therapies has been found to be as effective as antidepressant therapy.
- Seek help from a Doctor or someone who not only has traditional alternatives but also holistic awareness. A trusted expert is a great place to begin and will ultimately save you a lot of time and frustration in ruling out medical concerns such as hormone imbalance, impaired glucose tolerance and hypothyroidism.
When thyroid hormone cannot be assimilated into the cells, cellular oxygen declines. This is bad news for the brain, which uses a full 25 percent of the oxygen you breathe. Hypothyroidism also results in a slowdown of cellular metabolism causing a drop in the neurotransmitter GABA, which is calming and prevents the brain from being overwhelmed by stimulation. Low levels of Gaba lead to mood swings, anxiety and panic attacks. 33 percent of the people suffering from the ‘blahs’ type of depression are having trouble with their thyroid, as it is critical to digestive breakdown and absorption of all amino acids, including tyrosine.
For the most unbiased medical intervention, find medical professionals that don’t have the ear of the profit centers that line their own coffers, such as the drug companies and much of the medical industry, making health care and preventative health care unaffordable.
- Exercise: Try to make exercise and fresh air a part of your daily routine. The number one treatment that is resounding in all the literature that I’ve read is exercise because: 1) it increases the feel good hormones, or cats, as well as serotonin levels; 2) normalizes your insulin levels; 3) increases cells in the hippocampus (decreased with depression); and 4) increases oxygen. (7)
- Awareness and a corresponding nutritious diet are critical.
Nutrition has an immense impact on your body and brain. Avoiding sugar and grains will help normalize your insulin and leptin levels, another important aspect of depression. Sugar refers to refined, fructose corn syrup and starches in the form of grains.
Sugar triggers chemical reactions in your body that promote chronic inflammation, which disrupts the normal function of your immune system and wreaks havoc on your brain. Chronic inflammation is associated with heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and cancer.
Sugar also suppresses a key growth hormone called BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor) which promotes healthy brain neurons and plays a vital role in memory. BDNF levels are critically low in people with depression which may be causative.
Educate yourself about food processing.
- Research and become more aware of your body’s needs.
The brain needs fat and the brain needs oxygen; thus a good Omega 3 supplement and lots of aerobic exercise. Low levels of DHA have been linked to depression, memory loss, Schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s Disease and is associated with low concentrations of brain serotonin.
Omega 3 deficiency can decrease normal blood flow to your brain. Studies show that people with depression have compromised blood flow to a number of brain regions. Take a high-quality animal-based omega 3 fat such as krill oil.
- People with the lowest levels of vitamin D are eleven times more prone to depression. You can optimize your vitamin D either by sunlight exposure, phototherapy (light therapy) 30 minutes per day, or by taking a high-quality Vitamin D3 supplement.
- As we age, sleep becomes more challenging with arthritis and stiffness, hormone imbalances, and particularly thyroid issues. They are finding that it is critical in order to receive the healing deep sleep that your body needs, that you have uninterrupted sleep in a totally dark environment.
Ironically, the pharmaceutical sleep aids, while they may knock you out, never allow you to reach the deep level of sleep that your body needs to repair and heal. Lack of sleep may cause depression and depression and stress may cause a lack of sleep.
- Awareness in avenues for stress control is important. Promotion of Eastern medicines, relaxation techniques, vacations and energy work can all be beneficial but you have to choose a stress management that works best for you. Exercise is always great for stress relief.
Some people enjoy meditation, journaling, breathing exercises, yoga, or simply sharing their feelings with a friend. You may want to look into Meridian Tapping Techniques (MTT) and Energetic Rebalancing Techniques, (EFT) as people have enjoyed a lot of success with these treatments that you can do at home.
I think a spiritual practice and its roots for inspiration; gratitude and the enjoyment of the simple pleasures of life, are beneficial in lieu of distractions such as rushing out for more adrenaline inducing activities and instantaneous entertainment.
Dr. Amen performed a study examining changes in brain physiology during Kirtan Kriya meditation using SPECT brain imaging. He found that the left posterior parietal lobe, a region known to control spatial orientation, was deactivated during meditation. The participants reported a sense of transcendence or detachment. He also found heightened activity in the areas associated with working memory and language. Deactivation in a region called the subgenual cingulated gyrus might explain subjective reports of happiness and a sense of well-being while meditating. (5)
- I can’t say enough for having friends, family and local community support centers. Many times you just need someone to listen. I think that community awareness is sadly lacking in many communities.
Trick Yourself out of the Blues
There's nothing wrong with feeling blue once in awhile as long as you accept your feelings. Here are a few fake-outs to help you get through a negative state of mind when you need a little support (2 and Ririan Project findings):
- Wear blue, which is generally more relaxing while orange is the biggest irritant;
- Close your eyes, quickly count to 10 while strongly pressing your right thumb and forefinger together. Repeat on left hand. Repeating this five times will clear the mind;
- Find an anger buddy who will allow you to verbally assault him making sure the tirade is brief, private and somewhat controlled;
- Grin or smile. Decide to be happy. Even if manipulated, people report feeling better instantly;
- Clutter causes stress. Cleaning up your room will make you feel better;
- Use music to reduce stress;
- Ginger and broccoli help relieve depression also nice smells such as fresh fruit, lemon, a spring rain or just mowed grass can turn your beat around if you pay attention in the moment;
- Cook something from scratch. Chopping, destroying and creating can get you in touch with your primal self;
- Draw two dots an inch or so apart on a piece of white paper. Stare at the space between them with an out-of-focus gaze until they merge. Repeat three times.
- EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) can help while affirming an acceptance of your feelings without beating yourself up;
- Find your passion or mission in life and try to arrange your life around it;
- Focus on gratitude daily; do an occastional gratitude dance;
Supplements to Enhance Neurotransmitter imbalances
Seek counsel before combining these supplements with MAO or SSRI blockers.
The following will provide you with suggestions of the natural supplements available to help you better balance your bio-chemical profiles. It is not intended as a specific protocol. You will want to consult with a holistic professional or further research the combination and dosages that will work best for you.
While the regiment itemized above will undoubtedly cause you to feel better and may even cure your mild or moderate depression, what about the neurotransmitter imbalances? This added supplementation is what tipped the scales for me. For example, I needed Serotonin and I needed it fast. The best sources I found to help with these neurotransmitter imbalances are:
- The Edge Effect by Dr. Eric Braverman, M. D.;
- Making a Good Brain Great, Healing ADD, and many other books by Dr. Daniel Amen;
- Mood Cures by Julia Ross, M.A. and
- Joan Larson’s books 7 Weeks to Sobriety and Depression Free, Naturally. She also has a very extensive web site at Healthrecovery.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are easy written tests that you can complete in all of the above referenced books that will help you to pinpoint your specific areas of need.
In general, low tryptophan may be indicated by sleeplessness, anxiety or irritability and low tyrosine or phenylalanine may indicate symptoms of lethargy, fatigue, sleeping too much or feelings of immobility. If you listen to your intuition, I trust that you will find your way to the right resources for you.
There are supplements that may help you restore your Norepinephrine (Dopamine) and Serotonin levels or both. I wish it was as easy as taking a Dopamine or Serotonin pill. It isn’t. One of the things I love about Joan Larson’s web site is they put together and sell specific formulas through her clinic, Bio-Recovery. These formulas include all of the necessary vitamins, amino acids and other ingredients that you will need to treat your particular symptoms. They not only have a clinic in Minneapolis where they can run tests to determine your particular chemical imbalances but a Rehabilitation Treatment Center.
Norepinephrine or Dopamine is made primarily from Tyrosine and Serotonin is made primarily from Tryptophan which first converts to 5HTP. There is some controversy about taking 5HTP supplements. (3) Only two percent of our aminos get to the brain under the best of circumstances as they are in demand for muscle and other body repairs. This is why it is critical that you take them on an empty stomach and take the right dosage for you. You should also be careful to not take competing amino acids at the same time.
You can also take L- Theanine to enhance these concentrations. Theanine is an amino acid found in green tea and is used for treating anxiety, high blood pressure, making cancer drugs more effective and for preventing Alzheimer’s. It enters the brain by passing through the blood brain barrier. Once in the brain, it can help transmit nerve impulses and cause significant increases in either or both of these Neurotransmitters.
If you need more relief, after taking these amino acids, you can also supplement with St. John’s Wort, which can help to keep the Serotonin in your brain much like the SSRI’s only with fewer side effects. It increases the availability of serotonin in synapses by blocking their reuptake. It also increases the availability of norepinephrine and dopamine levels, providing a feeling of well being.
For low Serotonin, I take a quality powdered Tryptophan first thing in the morning on an empty stomach and last thing at night with juice. You can take doses of one to six grams daily since it is not stored in the body. Because it is calming it is also helpful for sleep at night. Tryptophan is least used for muscle repair so taken in conjunction with exercise and a tiny bit of sweetened juice, it should enjoy a free ride across the blood brain barrier.
Tryptophan is converted to niacin before its final conversion into serotonin. It may be important to take a B complex vitamin every day, providing both B6 and Niacin. Inositol a form of sugar that acts differently then glucose, aids in efficient processing of nutrients into the conversion of energy and changes into a substance that regulates serotonin’s effectiveness within nerve cells. Some studies indicate that it may impact depression and cancer and can be considered a brain food, as the nutrient is necessary to properly nourish the brain.
A deterrent of the effectiveness of tyrosine supplements is our less than nutritious diets. People low in cats specifically need a high protein diet. If you pay attention to your body, I’m sure you have already figured this out. Cottage cheese is great, along with eggs, atlantic salmon and your organic meats. Vegetarians run the risk of cat deficiency. Carbs cause an insulin release that tends to sweep these aminos out of your bloodstream and into your muscles.
Another supplement that may work if tyrosine doesn’t, or possibly in conjunction with tyrosine, is the amino L-Phenylalanine, which converts to tyrosine. Another boost is Pycnogenol and OPCs, pine bark or grape seed extracts. SAM-e is world famous for its pro-cat antidepressant effects. This may really help those who have used stimulant drugs. It’s also good for liver and joints. Add 800 to 1600 milligrams of SAM-e per day if the above doesn’t perk you up. If after one bottle you don’t notice a difference, it probably won’t work for you. (6)
Exercise is great for low cats but if they are too low, you don’t have the energy to exercise in the first place. Its baby steps. If you are stressed all of the time and don’t have some sort of stress management, you’ll also quickly deplete your already low stores.
Last but not least if your diet does not provide sufficient vitamins and minerals, this will also contribute to the problem. Specifically, you may need to supplement: Vitamins B, C and D along with calcium, magnesium and your omega 3 oil. (6)
NOTE: the above should not only help the ‘blahs’ type depression but greatly help Attention Deficit Disorder
If I could turn back the hands of time, I would take Chad for treatment for his ADD, depression and addiction to one of the facilities listed under
in a New York minute.
Return to Introduction Page from Depression Treatment
(1) Dr. Eric Braverman, M.D. The Edge Effect
(3) email@example.com by Joan Larson
(4) Robert Whitaker, Medical Journalist and Pulitzer Prize finalist in 1998 also author of several books including "Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America"
(5) Dr. Daniel G. Amen, M.D. Amenclinics.com
(6) Mood Cures by Julia Ross, M.A.
(7) Dr. James S. Gordon, M.D.