Depression and anxiety can be caused by many different physiologic and hormonal factors: sleep deprivation, nutrient deficiency, poor gastrointestinal health, adrenal fatigue, thyroid dysfunction as well as sex hormone imbalances.
Add emotional stressors such as childhood traumas, difficult relationships, financial stressors, death of loved ones or pets, work difficulties, new babies, divorce, moving, lack of exercise and no self care it's no wonder we have a hard time coping. Anti- depressants drugs have their role, but they are not the only answer.
Our approach is to look for and address the underlying causes, not just treat the symptoms with a pill. Most physicians, including psychiatrists, don't realize that nerves lining the gastrointestinal tract produce over 70% of the body's neurotransmitters--serotonin, GaBA, dopamine and nor-epinephrine. Far more than the brain produces!! Yes, you have "gut feelings" for a reason!
Anything creating imbalance or disturbance in gastrointestinal health can create or exacerbate mood disorders. When treating depression I often start with the 4R program of gut health. Sugar, alcohol and wheat gluten are major contributors to depression and anxiety. Getting off them can be a huge help!
Excess adrenaline from acute stress creates anxiety, while abnormal cortisol over prolonged periods of time causes depression. Low functioning thyroid can also lead to depression and anxiety. It's important to optimize adrenal health and thyroid health as part of depression treatment.
Nutrient deficiencies, particularly B vitamins and essential Omega 3 fatty acids also play a huge role. Many drugs, including anti-depressants deplete the body's store of B vitamins and critical minerals. Replacing these essential nutrients is key to weaning off drugs.(see recommended nutrients)
A cutting edge, powerful, non-drug tool used to treat anxiety, depression, sleep disorders and chronic pain is the Alpha-Stim unit. This simple device, clipped to the earlobes, produces a tiny micro-electric current stimulating the brain to release encephalin and endorphins(natural pain killers). In addition, it stimulates the brain to produce more serotonin, GABA and dopamine while creating synchronized, calming brain waves. No drugs involved!
Self care and healthy support systems are critical. Tools such as Emotional Freedom Technique(EFT), regular movement, uplifting reading, and insight therapy can all be useful in breaking the anxiety/depression cycle. (see tips for self care).