Most treatments for depression and anxiety are based on the theory of low serotonin depression, which basically ensures that depression is due to the fall in the production of certain neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, in the brain.
Getting help for a mental health disorder first involves removing stigma and discrimination around mental health – depression, anxiety and other mood disorders that are not signs of weakness, are common conditions that a large portion of the population is dealing with. daily
Effective methods are given to work with depression mental health conditions
According to Statistics of Canada, 1 of 4 people suffers from a mental health condition in Canada. Most of these individuals will fall through the cracks of a medical system that is not equipped to deal with increased stress and mood disorders, such as depression.
Naturopathic doctors understand that the mind and body are connected. Science has long established the relationship between the digestive system and humor, generally called the “Bowel-Brain Connection” and the connection between the mind, mental health, and immune system, even establishing an entire field called “psychoneuroimmunology”, relating to depression with inflammation in the brain and body.
Are We Dealing with Depression in the Right Way?
When it comes to our conventional healthcare model, mental health conditions are treated as separate from the rest of the body. In mainstream medicine, depression is for the most part treated as a cerebral chemical imbalance.
It is thought that the deficiency of “happiness” chemicals in the brain, such as serotonin and dopamine, influences mood and should be “corrected” with anti-depressants. Despite emerging science about the brain, emotions, and mood, mental health conditions are commonly seen as something that “went wrong” in the brain.
Most treatments for depression and anxiety are based on the theory of low serotonin depression, which basically ensures that depression is due to the fall in the production of certain neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, in the brain. Following this model, drugs are prescribed to artificially change neurotransmitter levels.
While we understand that anti-depressant medications such as selective serotonin and selective inhibitors for the reuptake of serotonin and noradrenaline (SSRIs and SNRIs) work better than placebos (in about 40-60% of cases), scientists do not know with certainty why they have an effect.
When starting with SSRIs and SNRIs, patients experience an immediate increase in neurotransmitter levels in the brain, however, it takes 2-4 weeks before there are noticeable changes in mood. This points to the fact that the proposed mechanism (increase neurotransmitter levels) may not be how these drugs work.
However, it is in the interest of the pharmaceutical companies that produce these drugs to perpetuate the idea that anti-depressant medications are “restoring” the natural chemical balance in the brain, despite the lack of evidence that this is the case.
This is encouraged by an article published by the Neuroscience and Behavior Reviews last year that challenges the theory of low serotonin depression, ensuring that the improvement in SSRI medication could be the body overcoming the effects of the drug, in Instead of the drug helping patients to feel better.
This could explain why patients feel worse in the first weeks of starting an anti-depressant medication.
The authors venture to say that anti-depressant medication could, in fact, be creating an obstacle to cure in patients with depression, making it harder for patients to recover in the short term.
The authors of the study argue that while most types of depression give an evolutionary advantage by providing the body with natural and beneficial adaptations to stress.
How to Beat Depression Naturally
Since we understand that our digestive system and immune system are related to our mood and functioning in general, it becomes imperative that we learn how to boost our brains, improve digestion, balance inflammation and take proactive measures against increasing our stress levels.
Getting help for a mental health disorder first involves removing stigma and discrimination around mental health – depression, anxiety and other mood disorders that are not signs of weakness, are common conditions that a large portion of the population is dealing with. daily.
Next, it is important to seek help from a trusted doctor who will take the time to listen to your case, treat your body as a whole entity, not just a collection of organs, and connect with you as a person, not just your symptoms or diagnosis.
Here are some proposed and effective methods to work with depression mental health conditions.
1. Healing the Intestine
Science has largely begun to refer to the digestive system as the “second brain,” due to its possession of something called the Enteric Nervous System, a collection of millions of nerve cells that control digestive function and communicate directly with the brain. .
Due to its intricate connection, research has shown that irritation of the digestive system, through bacterial growth, inflammation of the intestine and a variety of other mechanisms, can trigger significant changes in mood 3
Because 30-40% of the population suffers from digestive symptoms such as bloating, flatulence, gastroesophageal reflux, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, constipation, diarrhea and IBD, this connection is important.
In addition, emerging research is showing the connection between beneficial gut bacteria and mood, establishing the fact that certain probiotics are capable of producing neurotransmitters and therefore contribute to the mood and mental functioning.
Naturopathic medicine has for a long time established a connection between the intestines and the brain when it comes to health, recognizing that conditions like IBS are aggravated by stress, depression, and anxiety; and treat digestive concerns with patients with depression by prescribing quality probiotics and identifying and eliminating food sensitivities among other things.
Furthermore, not only the intestinal function is important for the regulation of the nervous system and, in turn, of the state of mind, a healthy digestive system is required for an adequate absorption of the amino acids and micronutrients necessary to synthesize neurotransmitters.
2. Essential nutrients and proper nutrition
If the body does not have the bricks to build hormones and neurotransmitters, it will not do them. While SSRI medication keeps elevated brain serotonin levels, it also depletes the vitamins and minerals responsible for producing serotonin.
Supplemented with quality brands and correct doses of vitamins B6, folate, and B12, as well as magnesium and zinc; and ensuring adequate protein intake is essential to treat mental health and mood conditions. Some sources say that 70-80% of the population is deficient in magnesium.
Because magnesium is necessary for the production of a variety of hormones and neurotransmitters, a deficiency can cause a set of symptoms from low mood and muscle pain, to insomnia and fatigue.
Being placed in high-quality vitamins and minerals, professional grade with therapeutic doses should be done under the care of a licensed professional, such as a naturopathic doctor.
3. Omega 3
A meta-analysis in 2014 concluded that fish oils are effective in treating low mood and even in patients diagnosed with severe depressive disorder.
Because the brain requires fatty acids EPA and DHA found in fish to function, ensuring adequate consumption of fatty fish or using a high-dose supplement in EPA at an effective dose is a cornerstone of the natural treatment for depression.
The EPA: DHA ratio is important, however, to make sure you are receiving a prescription from a licensed naturopathic doctor (not all brands on the market are created the same and some products may even affect the mood in a negative way) .
Another proposed mechanism of action to benefit the mood with fish oil is in its anti-inflammatory properties. Emerging research has suggested that depression may be correlated with low levels of brain inflammation.
4. Healing the adrenals
According to evolutionary biology, depression could be a necessary adaptation to the stress that promoted our survival and ability to transmit our genes.
Because about 70% of the population is identified as significantly stressed, it is not a surprise that the number of mental health conditions is also increasing.
Naturopathic medicine and other fields of alternative medicine recognize a collection of symptoms caused by prolonged, chronic stress that they call “adrenal fatigue.” Read more There are 8 different types of depression and care must be tailor-made
Adrenal fatigue is characterized by high levels of mental, emotional and physical stress, low energy, insomnia, cravings and depressive symptoms such as low mood, apathy and lack of enjoyment in previously enjoyed activities; changes in sleep, weight, appetite and energy levels.
Whether the symptoms of chronic stress are misdiagnosed as mild to moderate depression in people, or whether lifestyle stress is the cause of physiological depression, there is also usually a significant stressor that complicates the symptoms of depression. a low mood in most people.
Using herbs, nutrition and stress reduction techniques are important to improve resistance, as is taking steps to lower the amount of stress present in one’s life. Investigating and experimenting with various self-care practices is also important for managing low mood and promoting mental health.
5. Mind-body medicine
The body-mind medicine involves working with the body’s healing energy forces to remove obstacles to heal and ensure the smooth flow of energy through the body. The main modalities that naturopathic medicine uses for these purposes are acupuncture, homeopathy and working with meditation and visualizations.
While some reject these currents of healing as pseudoscientific, there is a growing body of research to support them. A study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine showed that acupuncture was such an effective medication in reducing depression after six weeks. 5
The mind-body medicine works by integrating our thoughts, emotions and physical sensations to give us more aware of the body as well as giving us powerful tools to manage stress.
We know that counseling is a preferred first-line treatment for depression and other mood disorders and that combined counseling and medication are much better than medication alone.
While there is a variety of psychotherapeutic models and styles, research suggests that the therapeutic relationship is one of the most powerful determinants of positive health outcomes. 6 Therefore, working with a clinician that you trust, connect and resonate with is the first step to finding an effective therapy.
Behavioral-Cognitive Therapy (CBT), a therapy style based on changing the ingrained and habitual thoughts, beliefs and behaviors that could be contributing to a low mood, is one of the main therapeutic modalities for depression and is supported by a number of studies.
Motivational interviewing is another model of counseling that helps patients work through and change addictive behaviors and has substantial evidence behind.
More and more research is coming out about the Buddhist practice of mindful meditation to prevent depression, manage stress, work with mood disorders and prevent relapse into a strong depressive disorder.
Recent evidence published in JAMA has shown that Cognitive Therapy Based on Full Consciousness (MBCT), a form of secular conscious meditation, was as effective as medication for treating mild to moderate depression. 7
Consciousness involves seeing the interior, without judgment of the thoughts, feelings and physical sensations produced by the body. Practicing it cultivates the skills of consciousness, attention, and presence.
According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, one of the founders of MBCT, “Consciousness is the awareness that rises through paying attention, purposely, in the present moment, without judgments, it’s about knowing what’s in your mind. ”
Consciousness improves the mood by allowing participants to better understand their own emotional states without getting caught up in identifying with negative emotions and belief systems.
If you or a friend or family member is suffering from a mental health condition, it is important to be educated about the options.
Naturopathic medicine is a great first-line option for those who have been recently diagnosed with a mood disorder, as well as a preventive measure for those dealing simply with stress, and a great complement for those who have been living with a condition of mental health for some time and they are already taking medication.
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