Depression is a very real problem in the United States and elsewhere. A study done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that 1 in 10 Americans report feeling depressed in some way, whether chronic or acute, severe or mild.
What Causes Depression?
Depression can be caused by any number of things. These include:
- Drug or alcohol abuse or addiction – including coming down from a high.
- As a side effect of specific medications and street drugs. These include steroids, antidepressants, amphetamines, drugs used to treat ADHD (psycho-stimulants), alcohol, anticonvulsants, anti-anxiety medications, high blood pressure medications, some hormone replacement drugs, and opioids.
- Past or present physical, mental, or sexual abuse.
- Major changes in life, including divorce, job changes, loss of a family member, and retirement.
- Serious illness. Sometimes depression occurs concurrent to an illness. This is often caused either by the illness itself, by changes in the individual’s life or habits, or by the drugs used to treat the illness.
- Conflicts with friends or family members; familial strife.
There are many causes of depression, as well as a number of solutions one can utilize to help treat depression. Unfortunately, the first “solution” often jumped to by doctors and those experiencing depression is antidepressant and antipsychotic medication.
Antidepressants and antipsychotics work to change the chemistry of the brain, changing how the brain uses certain chemicals called neurotransmitters. These drugs change how your brain communicates with the rest of your body – theoretically improving mood. While these can make one “feel better” temporarily, they have side effects. When one decides to stop taking the drug or if one wants to take another drug, they can experience withdrawal symptoms.
Not only do these drugs cause a number of negative effects, but antidepressants and antipsychotics are still under research and scrutiny. For example, the BLACK BOX suicide warning that is present on all antidepressants was only added AFTER the drugs hit the market and enough complaints and suicides had occurred. It is known that these drugs affect brain chemistry, but what is not known is exactly what they are doing to the delicate and complex chemical system of the brain and central nervous system.
As if that were not enough, recent advertisements would have you believe that adding an antipsychotic like Abilify to your antidepressant regimen may help your antidepressant to “work better.” But research indicates that this could unnecessarily expose you to dangerous side effects associated with mixing psychotropic substances.
Multiple prescriptions of psychiatric drugs, even up to ten drugs at once, have given rise to a whole new level of poly-drug dependence. It has thus become the task of drug addiction specialists to help disentangle individuals from this new brand of addiction.
Natural Treatment Alternatives
Since treating depression with drugs is at best less effective and at worst more dangerous and deadly than you have been led to believe, what are your options? Here are some natural methods for treating depression:
- Look into underlying physical causes of depression.Depression can be caused by any number of treatable physical conditions and ailments. It can be caused by medication you may be taking or alcohol consumption. It can also be associated with allergies to food, pollen, airborne mold spores (there are 100,000 different types of mold and some are toxic to humans), as well as food additives, chemicals, and preservatives. Instead of covering up the problem with drugs, you can work on isolating underlying sources so you can do something about it.This approach may take some time, but it is a highly analytical way of looking at something. If you aren’t sure where to start, you could visit a holistic practitioner. A great example is a physician who is an MD as well as a naturopath – someone who would have a full view of physical symptoms and their causes. There are also hundreds of tests for allergies and even methods to analyze the air you breathe in your own home.
- Change your diet and exercise regimen.The way an individual treats his or her body has a lot to do with how they feel. If the way you eat could be improved by adding in some fruits or vegetables, by including more homemade meals, or by reducing (or eliminating) deep fried or sugary foods, then do that.Exercise is also a good way to fight depression. Aerobic and many other types of exercise help the brain regulate its chemicals naturally. By running, swimming, weight training, yoga, dancing, or getting in any type of exercise on a daily basis, you can greatly improve your mood. Most doctors recommend exercising three to five times a week for 20-30 minutes.
- Take supplements.Vitamins and minerals are a natural part of any healthy diet. So, taking a multi-vitamin that covers all bases is always a great idea. While all vitamins are important, vitamin D is one you can’t get from food no matter how organic or all-natural your diet is. You can only get vitamin D from sunlight, which if you hadn’t noticed is something that is lacking for several months a year in many places around the US. So if you aren’t constantly outside or living in Florida or Southern California or New Mexico, especially in the fall or winter, try getting a little boost from a vitamin D supplement.There are other natural mood-enhancing supplements and herbs you can try as well, such as a flowering plant species called St. John’s wort (I didn’t name it), tryptophan (essential amino acid), L-theanine (found in green tea), fish oil, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, and magnesium.
- Work to improve your quality of life.We all run into situations where life is no fun. There are layoffs, fights with our spouse, loneliness, strained family situations, financial troubles, etc. Fortunately, there is always something you can do to improve your quality of life. Here are a few ideas that could point you in the right direction:
- Talk to someone. If you are having a hard time, find a person you trust and talk to them. This might be a teacher, your pastor, a friend, or a family member. Whoever it is, ask them if you can talk out the situation with them. Even if they don’t have advice, the act of discussion may help you see the light at the end of the tunnel.
- Surround yourself with supportive people. It’s pretty hard to achieve your goals if you have “friends” who put you down, family members who want you to do something else with your life, or a boss that wants you to remain at the bottom of the totem pole. Find associates who support you and who you can support in return.
- Make the tough decisions. If you are in a negative or abusive situation, you may need to actually relocate or separate yourself from the negative influence. This is where a conversation or even a support group may help you discover a place to go or a plan of action.
- Change your approach. This could be as simple as deciding not to lie to your boss or as difficult as ending addiction to drugs or alcohol. Either way, changing how you handle situations in life can be freeing and rewarding.
Whether the depression you feel is chronic or fleeting, recognize that you are not alone and there are many organizations dedicated to holistic and natural means for alleviating and eliminating depression, anxiety, and other negative emotions and influences without falling prey to the harmful effects of drugs and pharmaceuticals. Also realize that it is perfectly normal to have emotional ups and downs. It is part of being human. It means you are alive!