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Managing Depression the Naturopathic Way


Dr. Matthew Marturano By Dr. Matthew Marturano, ND
Friday, October 26, 2012
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Feeling sad or down is a natural part of life and an important part of maintaining psychological health. The notion that something has gone wrong if we're not always happy and exuberant can lead one to have false expectations of life. However, when these feelings are very intense and last for weeks or months at a time, it may be clinical depression. The important thing to remember is depression is a treatable condition and there are many options available including counseling, medications and natural remedies.

Antidepressant medications don't work for everybody and can cause significant side effects. However, natural remedies may also contribute to difficulties, especially if the wrong remedy is used, or when used in the incorrect dosage. For anyone interested in taking a more natural approach, it's important to know the correct steps to take for treatment.

Visit a Naturopathic Doctor
If possible, locate a nearby naturopathic doctor who can provide guidance on natural treatment methods for depression as well as some counseling. The causes of depression may be physical, psychological or both and a detailed one-on-one consultation allows for a more customized treatment plan to be developed. Naturopathic doctors are also trained to understand when it's appropriate to refer a patient to another practitioner with a more specialized skill set.

Learn About Natural Supplements
Several physical and even environmental factors can contribute to depression. It's important to understand which supplements address which issues and to not choose a supplement merely because it's claimed to be used for depression. Here are some common scenarios:

  • Hormone changes, such as those experienced by women going through menstruation, childbirth and menopause, may often contribute to depression. In these cases, it's important to support the body's ability to produce these hormones and for the liver to detoxify and eliminate them once they've served their purpose.
  • Sometimes people experience a condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) during the winter months. This may be connected to a reduction in vitamin D levels, due to reduced exposure to sunlight. 
  • In certain cases, symptoms of depression may be linked to a reduced production of neurotransmitters in the brain, like dopamine and serotonin. For these situations, vitamin B6 and a supplement called SAMe can be helpful.
  • Gut bacteria have been shown to play a large role in the regulation of our neurological, hormonal and immune systems and imbalances in our natural gut bacteria can contribute to depression. Probiotics can correct imbalances.

The lesson here is to pay attention to any symptoms like these and include them in the conversation when meeting with a physician to discuss possible clinical depression.

Increase Physical Activity
One of the potential symptoms of depression is a dramatically reduced desire to perform physical activities. However, exercise is one of the best ways to relieve stress and anxiety and elevate overall mood. Many, if not most, of the benefits of exercise may be obtained through mild to moderate exercise, not marathon running. Talking a long walk can do wonders for one's outlook, so don't get caught in the trap of thinking exercise must be strenuous to be of benefit.

Seek Positive Social Support
As depression is often associated with a feeling of being disconnected from others, staying isolated can make the condition much worse. Whether it’s spending time with family or friends, or joining a support group for people suffering from depression, it's important to maintain a healthy social life as much as possible. A healthy social life can stop the cycle of negative thoughts and move someone into a more positive frame of mind. Often people are unnecessarily concerned their depression will "rub off" on others and this is seldom the case.

Speak With a Professional
Spending time with a therapist can be helpful in expressing feelings and in determining the root cause of depression. A support group led by a professional therapist or private therapy sessions can be incorporated into a treatment plan for depression in order to achieve the best results.

Depression doesn’t have to be permanent. With the right combination of self-understanding, a strong network of friends and family and the assistance of health professionals trained in effective treatment methods, it's more than possible to beat depression and get back to being one's own self again.

 


Products you may like:

Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw D3 5,000 IU  Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw D3 5,000 IU 
Why you may like this product? Experiencing depression during the colder months, especially when the days are shorter, may be improved with vitamin D. This supplement from Garden of Life provides 5,000 IU of vitamin D3 per serving as well as probiotics, enzymes and a blend of raw fruits and vegetables.
Now Foods SAMe  Now Foods SAMe 
Why you may like this product? SAMe is a naturally occurring substance within the body that impacts how we feel mentally and emotionally. This supplement form of SAMe from Now can help you balance mood swings and improve your mental state.
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