Natural Support for Depression
Stress is a factor in many illnesses. In fact, it is estimated that 75-90% of visits to the doctor are related to stress – either acutely or because of chronic problems associated with stress. And, it is believed that nearly 75% of the diseases prevalent in western society are related to the stress mechanisms of the body.
Chronic exposure to stress results in chronic engagement of the fight or flight mechanism (increased blood pressure, heart rate, blood sugar, blood shunted away from the digestive system, increase in stress hormones, such as cortisol and epinephrine). Studies show that physiological and psychological consequences of acute/chronic stress can persist well past the cessation of a stressful event.
The body is designed to adapt to stressors to help maintain equilibrium and healthy functioning. The stress response influences many biological and biochemical processes that begin in the brain and spread through nearly all body systems including the adrenals, thyroid, neurotransmitter systems, digestive system, and cardiovascular system. But everyone has an individual "load" that they can manage, which is why stress can express itself in a variety of symptoms throughout the body.
Emotional and physical disorders that have been linked to stress include:
- Cardiovascular concerns – heart attacks, stroke, and hypertension
- Immune system disorders
- Skin reactions – rashes, hives, and atopic dermatitis
- Gastrointestinal issues – constipation, diarrhea, acid reflux, nausea
- Insomnia – difficulty falling and staying asleep
What are the symptoms of depression in adults?
- Feelings of sadness or unhappiness
- Irritability or frustration over small matters
- Reduced sex drive
- Insomnia or excessive sleeping
- Changes in appetite causing decreased appetite and weight loss, or increased cravings for food and weight gain
- Agitation or restlessness
- Indecisiveness, distractibility and decreased concentration
- Fatigue, tiredness and loss of energy
- Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
- Frequent thoughts of death, dying or suicide
- Crying spells for no apparent reason
- Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches
- Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues from shorter days and grayer skies)
What are depression symptoms in children and teens?
- Sadness, irritability, hopelessness and worry
- Anxiety, anger and avoidance of social interaction
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Behavior problems
- Changes in schoolwork patterns
Common Causes of Depression:
- Low serotonin levels/neurotransmitter imbalance
- Food allergy /sensitivities
- Nutrient deficiencies
- Sleep disturbances
- Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
- Toxins/heavy metals
- Preexisting physical conditions
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
- Stress/low adrenal function
- Prescription drugs
- Poor lifestyle habits (smoking, drinking, high caffeine use)
- Lack of physical exercise
- Isolation/lack of support network
Postpartum Depression in Women and Men
Research has shown that women are not the only ones affected by postpartum depression (PPD). The study out of Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, VA, showed that at least 10% of men also suffer from PPD. The difference is that is situational, rather than hormonal.
Evidence of hormone theories and pre- and post-natal depression is pretty inconsistent, and it’s not as strong as the evidence on psychosocial factors – things like changes in the relationship, financial stress, social support and social stress, which are reasonable things to expect to affect fathers. The research has found that men suffer from PPD most between 3 and 6 months, and it seems sleep deprivation may be one of the causes.
Healthy Habits and Coping Skills to Manage Depression:
- Regular exercise
- Yoga and meditation practices
- Healthy diet choices
- Correct nutritional deficiencies via supplementation
- Get restful sleep
- Create “me” time
- Declutter your living space and work space
- Resolve or end unhealthy relationships
- Seek the support of loved ones and or health professionals
- Consider specialized testing to assess stress levels, neurotransmitters, micronutrient status, genetic susceptibilities, thyroid health, and food sensitivities
Diet Tips to Manage Stress and Depression Symptoms:
- Promote healthy blood sugar balance by eating every 3-4 hours. Meals that contain protein and fat, as well as complex carbohydrates and soluble fiber will help maintain steady glucose levels, lower insulin production and prevent the need for cortisol production for glucose management.
- Eliminate all potential food allergens, including dairy, wheat (gluten), soy, corn, preservatives, and food additives.
- Eat antioxidant-rich foods (such as green leafy vegetables) and fruits (such as blueberries, pomegranates, and cherries).
- Avoid refined foods, such as white breads, pastas, and sugar.
- Eat high quality protein sources including lean meats, cold water fish, and beans.
- Eat healthy fats, such as olive oil, coconut oil, walnuts and avocadoes.
- Eliminate unhealthy fats found in commercially baked goods such as cookies, crackers, cakes, French fries, onion rings, donuts, processed foods, and margarine.
- Avoid coffee and other stimulants, alcohol, and tobacco.
Supplements that Support Symptoms of Depression Include:
Pathway L-5HTP provides mood support by naturally boosting serotonin and other neurotransmitter levels. This nutrient compares favorably to antidepressant medications, and has fewer side effects. It easily crosses the blood brain barrier and has been found to be supportive for depression, fibromyalgia, insomnia, binge eating associated with obesity, and chronic headaches.
B vitamins are involved in a large and important group of metabolic functions in the human body and must be replaced on a daily basis. That is because B vitamins are water soluble, and therefore do not build up a reserve in the body. Pathway B-COMPLEX 50 contains the full complement of B-complex vitamins as well as coenzyme forms.
Pathway SUPER OMEGA-3 is molecularly distilled for purity and contains high concentrations of the essential fatty acids Omega-3s EPA & DHA (300 mg & 200 mg respectively). Omega-3 fatty acids are very important, supportive nutrient of cardiovascular health as well as brain, mood, skin, and ocular health.
Stress can weaken health by demanding excess work by endocrine, nervous, and immune systems. Taking nutrients that help the body to adapt to stressful challenges can greatly help to restore energy and vitality. Pathway Adrenal Support contains key adaptogenic herbs along with select B vitamins to support the body’s stress response.
Holistic Treatment for Depression
At Village Green Apothecary, our nutritionists and doctors work with patients to create optimal health by using natural remedies, such as vitamins, minerals, herbs, and homeopathic treatments. They also recommend tailored diet plans, exercise routines, lifestyle tips, and specialized testing to address the root cause(s) of depression symptoms.
We’re here to help!
Schedule a consultation with one of Village Green’s naturopathic doctors or certified nutritionists for a personal assessment of your unique situation. During your appointment (either by phone or in-person), our professionals will:
- Review your depression symptoms and health history
- Examine your diet and lifestyle
- Recommend specialized testing
- Assess possible drug-nutrient interactions or depletions
- Answer any questions you may have
- Evaluate treatment options
- Create a customized plan that includes natural solutions, diet and lifestyle recommendations, and custom compounding
Contact a Village Green nutritionist by calling 800-869-9159.
Learn more about our nutrition counseling and wellness services.