Thursday, January 13, 2011

Managing Depression

Pharmaceutical companies have done enough advertising to bring to everyone's attention that they have drugs available for managing depression, and if one doesn't work multiple numbers taken together can do the job.  I will not deny that there are some individual situations for which these mysteriously functioning pills are needed.  At the same time I would contend they're over-prescribed and over-used.

First off, it's important to distinguish between situational depression and clinical depression.  In American society we've been brainwashed into thinking if we have any problem in life it can be fixed with a drug.  We are a nation with a split personality in this regard.  As long as the drug is manufactured by a "reputable pharmaceutical company" and it's properly prescribed drugging your pain is to be admired.  If the drug is illegal, however, you do the hard time and your pain is nothing to be considered in the sentencing.  There ARE situations that make us sad.  Situations in which nobody in their right mind would not feel sad.  Job loss, death, relationship problems can all cause situational depression.  We are uncomfortable feeling depressed and sad and yet situations warrant those feelings and the best thing to do is embrace the feelings and allow time to heal the wounds.

IF the depression gets prolonged or deepens into dwelling on it, unable to push through and do daily activities of living, or diverts into suicidal thinking and planning a stronger more pro-active approach is needed.  I personally would resort to the psychotropic drugs only as a last resort.  There are a lot of means and methods to try before arriving at the last resort.

Here are just a few ways to use natural approaches to support emotional health.
  • Exercise -- Get extra oxygen to brain cells by walking briskly or jogging, or swimming -- any aerobic cardiovascular workout will do the trick.
  • Eliminate artificial sweeteners, sugar, and simple carbohydrates.  They destabilize blood sugar and blood sugar swings high and low make for increased inability to control emotions.
  • Increase protein in your diet.  It stimulates metabolism, and is a precursor for building strong cells.
  • Plan and work out a schedule that gets you out of the house and engages your mind.  Try to create opportunity for interaction with other human beings for a few hours EVERY day.  This prevents your brain from falling into a rut and provides other things to think about.
  • Work puzzles -- these are like exercise for brain cells.
  • Manage sleep.  Some people handle depression by sleeping more, some by sleeping less.  Work to find a middle ground.  Sleep in the darkest room possible and aim for 8-10 hours a night.
  • The following herbs have positive effects on emotions and mental function: St. John's Wort, Skullcap, Passion Flower, Chamomile, Gota Kola, and Gingko.
  • The following vitamins and minerals help: a B-vitamin complex, zinc, copper, Vitamin C and E.
  • These added natural supplements are also helpful: GABA, 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), phosphatidylserine, phosphatidylcholine, lecithin.
See a healthcare provider, and in particular a naturopath, if you want help working out an anti-depression plan.

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