Healthy Alternatives To Antidepressants
Healthy Alternatives To Antidepressants
Natural Supplements, Diet, Exercise, And Exposure To Sunlight
Can Significantly Improve Mood
One in ten Americans now take prescription antidepressants. Antidepressant use in this country, by people ages 12 and older, increased 400% between 1988 and 2008, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
However, there’s little evidence that Serotonin Selective Re-uptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), a popular group of antidepressants that includes Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft and others, provide any benefit treating mild to moderate depression. They work no better than placebos, a 2010 Journal of the American Medical Association study concluded. Antidepressant side effects can be significant and discontinuing use is often extremely difficult. Using them should not be taken lightly.
Dr David Healy is founder of an independent website for researching and reporting on prescription drugs. He’s a world-renowned expert on antidepressants, has used them with patients and still prescribes them very selectively in severe cases. According to Healy: “We’re not just using them for people who need them. We’ve gone way beyond that and are actually making people ill.”
What are some alternatives to antidepressants for mild to moderate depression? World renown Integrative Health practitioner, Dr. Andrew Weil discussing depression suggests the following:
“Check your meds. Make sure you are not taking any over-the-counter or prescription medications that contribute to depression. Avoid all antihistamines, tranquilizers, sleeping pills and narcotics if you have any tendency toward depression. You should also be cautious about the use of recreational drugs.” The rebound effects from alcohol and marijuana can be especially dangerous for people leaning towards depression.
“Never skip a meal. Keeping blood sugar stable reduces mood swings. Smaller, more frequent meals with a little higher protein and fat help stabilize blood sugar”.
“Cut caffeine. Addiction to coffee and other forms of caffeine often interferes with normal moods and and brain serotonin levels.”
“Reduce your intake of sweets. Sweets temporarily make you feel good as blood sugar levels soar, but may worsen mood later on when they plummet.”
“Eat a serotonin-enhancing diet including: wild salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel, and anchovies, which are even higher in omega-3 fatty acids than other fish.”
“Acupuncture.has proven itself to be very useful in treating several mood disorders, including depression”.
Further, Dr. James S. Gordon, world-renowned expert in using mind-body medicine to heal depression, said: “Research shows that physical exercise is at least as good as antidepressants for helping people with mild to moderate depression. Physical exercise changes the level of serotonin in your brain.” A number of studies showed exercise clearly outperfomed prescription meds for treating depression. Thirty minutes of mild to moderate cardiovascular exercise 3 or more times per week, should do the trick.
B vitamins, especially B-6 and the L-methylfolate form of folic acid, recommended by Doctor Robin Miller, are proving to be effective for mood-enhancing.
St. John’s Wort is an herbal remedy that’s long been used in Europe for treating mood disorders. St. John’s is not a quick fix. Full effects are generally felt in 6-8 weeks. Standardized extracts have shown to surpass Prozac in treatment of mild to moderate depression.
SAM-e pronounced “sammy”, is one I’m especially impressed with. It’s a natural chemical that’s found in the human body and is believed to increase serotonin and dopamine. I’ve observed results are often experienced in, as little as, a few hours to a few days, making it ideal to use on an as-needed, short-term basis. Although full results may require 4 week’s use. Dr. Weil recommends 400-1,600 mg a day on an empty stomach. Sam-e is a proven alternative to prescription antipressants.
Theanine Serene with Gaba and Relora from Source Naturals is proving, with our clientele, be a very effective synergistic natural blend that helps to greatly reduce anxiety and to calm and stabilize moods. It helps provide deep mental and physical relaxation with a feeling of being content.
People living in darker northern latitudes suffer from Seasonal Affected Disorder (SAD) at 10x the rate as those in sunnier southern latitudes. Northern countries with the highest per-capita fish consumption, have the lowest rates of SAD Eating cold water fish enhances serotonin and it contains large amounts of vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin. Consequently, it’s quite likely that supplementing with 2000 to 5000 I.U. of vitamin D-3 daily and omega-3 fish oil will help substitute for our missed sun exposure when it comes to preventing seasonal mood swings.
Wearing YELLOW works well for me in dealing with the lack of winter sunshine in Oregon. Studies associate yellow with: mental clarity, optimism, self esteem and inspiration. This can improve mood, memory and concentration and increase confidence, curiosity and courage. A bright yellow sweatshirt provides me with more, bang-for-the-buck, mood enhancement without side-effects, than any patented prescription ever could.
Regarding depression, I think Dr Joseph Mercola’s gets it right: “Drugs should always be your last choice, and antidepressants are no exception.”
Rob Pell owns and operates Sunshine Natural Foods in Grants Pass, Oregon and has 35 years helping people with natural foods, products, exercise and healing. This article appeared in The Daily Courier 11-20-2013.