I completed a training in Nutritional and Integrative Medicine for Mental Health professionals last week. I had the joy of spending 5 days in Sedona at the Mago Retreat Center with about 65 other wonderful people who want to really help heal people without their having to be on medications for the rest of their lives. Medications that, for the most part, don’t really work.
Are you aware that your gut is considered your second brain? And, did you know that between 80 and 95% of serotonin (your happy hormone) is created in the gut – not in your brain. Yet, anti-depressant medications target the brain area that is responsible for Serotonin production. That is, no doubt, why most SSRIs do not work effectively and have to be amplified by taking another drug. And, it is well know that Effexor, a commonly prescribed SSRI, is not as effective as exercise in decreasing depressive symptoms (this was in Effexor’s own research). Coming off Effexor and other SSRIs can be a long, painful and tedious process, to say nothing of the initial side effects of SSRIs – constipation (that’ll depress you), weight gain, low sex drive (now that’s pretty depressive too).
One of the other issues with SSRI medications is that there is a connection between long term use and the development of Alzheimers.
Now, I am not anti-medication. There are times when people do need an anti-depressant or even an anti-anxiety to get them through. But, coming off is very difficult and takes months – if done correctly. What I am anti- is the wholesale distribution by the psychiatric and pharmaceutical industries in pushing medications that do not really resolve issues and can have long term negative effects. It is rare to find a psychiatrist who actually wants to practice psychiatry anymore. Typically, you get 20 minutes (max) with the doctor who is deciding which medicine to put you on. Or, you don’t even see an MD you get to see a nurse practitioner or a physician’s assistant – who basically does the same thing. Then, they might refer you for therapy – where you should have gone initially.
They rarely, if ever, recommend a change in diet, ask you about your sugar consumption or even your alcohol consumption. How is your social life? Do you have friends – ones that are supportive? Do you spend a lot of time alone sitting in front of the tv eating? How is work? Is it stressful? Do you hate what you do? Do you have any goals or purpose that drives you? Do you come from a family where one of your parents was an addict?
These are significant in how your life is? Do you exercise at all? Exercise is actually more effective than most anti-depressants (this is documented). Do you get enough sunlight? Most of us are deficient in vitamin D3. We are all pretty deficient in B12- a soluble vitamin that is excreted everyday. It is considered the Stress Vitamin and we all need it. Do you regularly consume that each day (with food).
There are so many ways to handle difficult issues outside of medication. Medication typically dulls the senses so you can get through the day. It does not correct or resolve the situations that have caused the depression or anxiety in the first place. That means you are stuck forever if you can’t get out of the stuckness of your mind.
At the training, it became evident that there are many environmental and nutritional reasons for depression as well – not just that you were jilted or your boss yelled at you or you had a mean parent.
How is your sleep? Lack of quality sleep often leads to depression. Do you have physical pain? This is a major reason for depressive moods. Are you eating foods that cause depression – sugar, gluten, dairy, soy, foods with lots of artificial additives (aspartame). These are foods that have been shown to cause serious allergies, bloating, leaky gut syndrome, anxiety and depression.
It is amazing how many people clean up their diet and find that they are no longer depressed. That the unhealthy parasites that have been dwelling inside you for years, feasting on your sugar consumption have made you moody and depressed and often anxious. Notice how alcoholics get after they drink – moody, angry, depressed. The alcohol turns into sugar that alters brain chemistry and results in mood swings and nasty side effects.
Mood follows Food. So notice how you feel after you eat up to 36 hours after (some even say up to 3 days later). Keep a food diary and a mood diary. You might even notice that a glass of apple juice is too much sugar for you and you get jumpy. Depending on your constitution, even a so called healthy food could be negative for you.
Don’t take my word for it. Notice for yourself how you are. How your kids are. You might think you are giving them healthy food – because the box of cereal says ‘fortified with B vitamins’. But, I assure you it is still laden with sugar, artificial additives and, in now ay considered a healthy food.
There is plenty of information now on what is healthy and what is a promotion. Educate yourself. Keep yourself strong, healthy, vibrant and stave off memory loss and other so called ‘age-related’ illnesses. Yes, you may slow down a bit, but your brain can still be active and alert well into your 90s. Don’t buy into the TV ads or the pharmaceutical ads. There are other, healthier ways than stuffing yourself with medications. They should only be a last resort – not the go to answer.
More to come…..