Treat depression effectively with natural mood enhancers
Melissa didn’t know about natural mood enhancers like most people. Most people expect to get a Rx for an anti-depressant from their doctor.
Melissa was someone I did a phone consult with who became an annual consultation services AWS member and she didn’t know about natural mood enhancers. She had struggled with mild to moderate depression for years but when she reached menopause it just got worse. Melissa was put on Wellbutrin which she had been on for years. She was also taking Zoloft and Concerta. When I heard she was on Concerta which is being prescribed more and more, I made sure to pay close attention for signs of high cortisol because this is a stimulant. As a result, it can cause one to need adrenal fatigue supplements AND supplements for depression. If you have low energy which is a 4-5 or less on a 1-10 scale and can’t sleep, then you have adrenal fatigue.
Please read the “energy articles” you can find in the INFO “E” for energy menu and get a copy of my best-selling ebook in the footer below. If you plain don’t quite have enough energy some high energy foods, supplements like acetyl l carnitine or vitamins like vitamin B12 will help. Okay, I digressed to talk about YOU, but now back to our Melissa! Remember, I am well aware Wellbutrin is now “indicated” for hot flashes (Big Pharma at it again!) and of course I am trained on how to treat depression with drugs. However, why on earth would you want chemicals to raise happy brain neurotransmitters when you could use the actual precursor to the neurotransmitters which are natural mood enhancers, not chemicals?
What were some habits contributing to Melissa’s “chronic bad mood”?
Believe it or not, what you EAT affects your mood, so we always look at this. Melissa was a fast food “addict,” always eating on the run, never really enjoying her food, either.
She also got daily “pick-me-ups” from all sorts of transiently mood-upping carbs like driving through Dunkin Donuts and choosing the chocolate glazed donut with coffee, cream, and sugar. People think these foods are natural mood enhancers but effects are transient and have a pay-back.
The “up” comes from caffeine and sugar. Additionally, the high carb content of the donut is a short-term way to increase the happy brain chemical she was obviously lacking, serotonin.
The problem with eating this way is it actually will end of decreasing happy brain chemicals and causing inflammation in the body which is related to many diseases including depression. (If you love Dunkin’ Donuts: on my weight loss plan and basic diet I make room for any sort of occasional treat. It’s a good company too so don’t think I’m bashing them. I’m not!)
First steps in a healthy direction
So, first we “cleaned up” Melissa’s diet. While I’m at it, I’ll address all sources of inflammation, okay? Your body reacts to everything you come into contact with on a daily basis. Whether it is the food you eat, the drinks you consume, the air you breathe or the products in your home, your body responds. Most people don’t realize their bodies are like sponges that absorb whatever is around them. A failure to realize this fact is what is behind a great deal of disease and discomfort that people experience physically and emotionally. Even “bad stuff” like cancer happens when people eat poorly, feel depressed and so on.
Next, I got Melissa to start taking walks. We are all aware of how depression doesn’t improve your desire to exercise, but it is extremely beneficial. Further, I, dog lover of the universe, convinced her living alone, finding herself isolated as a writer, and sometimes not leaving the house for 2-3+ days was not healthy. It so happens Melissa was also a dog lover. On one conference call where she and others coping with depression were talking to me, I brought up the idea of adopting a dog.
Unconditional love. Companionship. Scientific proof that dogs improve depression.
Not to mention, when you have a dog, you have to get out and walk each and every day. Double whammy – less depression, more exercise. To continue, Melissa knew I was involved in collie rescue, and so she adopted a collie, and I facilitated her collie adoption! :-) (She also named her dog Dr.Kim-never so flattered in my life!) Her “Dr.Kim” loved the daily walks and counted on Melissa to provide them! I think dogs are the BEST natural mood enhancers you can find. I have four. Long story-no, didn’t plan it. What’s YOUR favorite?
What were some other depression-promoting lifestyle habits?
Tense situations can cause all types of stress which can exacerbate depression as it was in Melissa’s case because of her publication deadlines which were very strict! She needed techniques to clear her head. We showed her this one which she loved. She wasn’t having sleep wake ups and unbelievably enough she only needed help falling asleep. She also wasn’t getting enough sleep.
It is unusual for someone with her degree of depression NOT to have major energy issues or sleep issues but everyone IS different which is why I need to interact with members so much….just as I do with patients. Natural mood enhancers are, quite frankly, necessary to some degree by just about everyone. If you are not getting seven to eight hours of sleep per night, and Melissa was NOT, then your body (like hers) responds by producing stress hormones. This results in inflammation, adrenaline, and cortisol which are all bad for brain health and more.
In short, don’t scrimp on sleep! Eventually, a combination of sleep deprivation and depression will make you have a loss of energy. Then, your health will definitely start to “go.” Now, that said, I KNOW that most people with mood issues have sleep problems so if you are having trouble sleeping here are the basics that we did for Melissa’s sleep:
Melissa’s Sleep Clean-Up:
We “cleaned up her sleep environment,” we made sure she had silicone earplugs because her doggie Dr.Kim(not me!) snored! LOL! We made sure she got a perfect pillow in her sleep kit.
Then we made sure she had sublingual melatonin before bedtime. You can do this by chewing up melatonin tabs or dissolving a combo natural sleep aid in water and swishing it around before swallowing to improve absorption.
What about “good-mood” recommendations we gave to Melissa?
Let’s review the basics of how to stay mentally healthy for life, as I did with Melissa. Attitude IS everything! Talk about the most basic of natural mood enhancers! Asking for help or information is very healthy. You are doing that by reading this article! Good for you! I KNOW this will sound simplistic, but it is a lot easier to be happy if you DECIDE you will be happy. Does that make sense? Take any chance you can get to celebrate yourself. Yay, ME!!! (Meaning YOU!) This is a major top tier of the natural mood enhancers. (Some are of course behavioral!)
Did you plant an herb garden? Do you WANT to plant an herb garden or a plant or do anything like that? If yes, DO IT. Get a sense of accomplishment from any little thing you do. Were you kind to a stranger? Wonderful. I celebrate you. Now celebrate yourself!
Did you adopt a dog?(Of course, I give you bonus points for that!) Again, I think pets are another major top tier of the natural mood enhancers we can find. Did you volunteer somewhere? If you feel too tired right now to do these things, try serving one meal at a homeless shelter, perhaps? It will amaze you when you realize how good helping others makes you feel. Not to mention, the better your feel about yourself, the quicker your mood will “come back.”
All you need is love
Love is essential. What’s going on in your personal life? Who is there to love you? If you say no one, then you NEED to get a dog. They love you always, no matter what. They also give you a reason to get out and walk every day! (OK, no more dog mentions!) If there is someone who is unloving toward you, address that. Oh wait, did I show you Melissa’s dog? I haven’t met “Dr.Kim,” but she sure looks like one of MY collies named Bitsi! Here, look how cute this is: Melissa’s walking buddy. Yep, it’s “Dr.Kim.” This is one of Melissa’s #1 natural mood enhancers, LOL!
In addition, when we talk about love we also need to mention a “support system.” This includes friends, family, and people who are “there for you.” Melissa was an only child and a bit shy. So, when she was feeling better, I recommend that she join a group fitness activity like Zumba where she would meet other women. She did!
What about Stress Management besides “techniques” – is there an overall strategy for Melissa?
YES!! Now, how to become more resistant to stress:
I guarantee you that you are not stress-resistant enough if you are experiencing mood issues.
Let’s compare two groups of people: those who tend to get sick and depressed vs. those who tend NOT to get sick and depressed
The people who report little illness or mood issues tend to maintain reasonable personal control in their lives. If a problem comes up, they look for resources, perhaps do some reading or learning in another way, and then try a solution. If the first one doesn’t work, they try another. (Pretty much like you are doing now by taking control of your health!) People who report being frequently ill or deal with depression are more likely to approach problems passively. To give some examples, they leave it to a spouse to discipline the children or decide where they will go on a weekend evening; they are uneasy about speaking to the boss when something is wrong at work.
Those with the least illness also personally commit to a goal of some kind. The goal might be completing a college career, being a better parent, advancing a community activity, or engaging in a hobby. These people spend 4 – 6 hours out of the 168 hrs in a “normal” week doing something that provides a sense of challenge and enhances their sense of meaningful participation in life. It isn’t that everything goes well for them during these hours, but rather that the activity has personal significance to them.
Melissa really “got this” and realized she needed help. She realized all she got from her Psychiatrist was DRUGS and no behavioral help. So, she switched to a Psychotherapist who has been great for her.
What about Melissa’s brain chemistry?
Aha! I’m glad you ask. Most people are unaware of what is going on with the brain so let me make this as simple as I can. Then you’ll understand why you do not want drugs, but instead, you want natural mood enhancers (even if you just feel a little “blah”!)
Why not feel peak peak peak? We are emotionally ruled by brain chemicals called neurotransmitters.
They are released mainly by neurons (special brain cells), and some people have less of what they need and some people have enough. Regardless, they don’t stay around in the brain long enough with both situations causing deficiency states which cause symptoms.
Acetyl-choline is a neurotransmitter involved in cognition (thinking) and neural transmission speed (how quickly we retrieve information mentally).
It can be adversely affected when we are depressed, causing symptoms such as short term memory loss, helped with the supplement GPC. Epinephrine is made in the adrenal glands, and too much causes anxiety. Serotonin is a happy neurotransmitter as are dopamine and nor-epinephrine. We are all 100% affected by our neurotransmitters, and that’s O.K.!
Now let’s talk some truth about anti-depressant drugs
(But do NOT stop any drugs without consulting your doctor, please!)
If you’ve been on anti-depressants for years and years, they are most likely not even working. All they are probably doing is suppressing your ability to make your OWN neurotransmitters and numbing you out, perhaps relieving a little depression. Again, everyone is different, so when I work with people ON anti-depressants, I make sure they are also working WITH their doctors. I commonly find anti-depressants to be ineffective amongst patients. Since that is the case, I gave Melissa a quiz to make sure she was not severely depressed or suicidal which is mandatory if I am going to manipulate brain chemistry. (It’s the mood questionnaire on the home page).
Next, I determined which brain chemicals she was low on. You need to make sure you have a trained doctor like me who does this “all the time.” Do NOT try to do it yourself. Do not find yourself one of the many non-A4M-doctors who claim to be able to use natural mood enhancers correctly either. Please! (Unless they do a 24-hour urinary analysis-then, O.K.).
Serotonin, the happy neurotransmitter is needed for proper sleep. It’s essential to stay non-depressed and be in a good mood. It’s also essential to avoid constipation. It is important for memory consolidation and a deficit is associated with Alzheimer’s disease. It’s an extreme necessity for brain health. It is needed for appetite and cravings control too.
With low levels of it, minor pains feel like major pains. In fact, serotonin replacement is one of the best fibromyalgia natural treatment modalities. One small way to raise serotonin is to chew gum. Seriously. Chew four pieces a day of xylitol or sorbitol-sweetened gum and it will give you a boost! The other way is with 5-HTP. Make it a point to read the directions I put for taking this carefully, so you don’t have any GI side effects. If you are unclear, message and ask me.
Note: Don’t take it (5-HTP) if you are on anti-depressants or have bipolar illness.
Now, let’s talk about the other major mood neurotransmitter called dopamine. What does it do? Plenty.
It is not only essential for everything I mentioned above, but it’s necessary to avoid addictions and cravings for toxic things such as cigarettes, drugs, and excessive alcohol.
When you are deficient, you might have anger issues assosciated with depression or anger masking depression. It’s also associated with an increased incidence of auto-immune diseases. Of course, nor-epinephrine plays a role, too, so I balance that as well.
Here is exactly how:
I use SAMe 800 mg 2x a day and L-tyrosine, 2-4 caps 2x a day. It’s O.K. if you are on anti-depressants, but I don’t suggest this if you are bipolar or if you are on anti-depressants.
It turned out that Melissa needed all of these plus something to naturally boost her anti-anxiety brain chemical GABA and we did that too. What was THAT?
Pharmagaba – chew two at a time, put under the tongue. The only thing that limits how much is too many will cause loose stools due to sorbitol or grogginess.
Now Melissa is off all anti-depressants and is, for the first time in her life, happy. She just met someone she thinks might be Mr. Right…walking his dog!