Lifting the cloud of depression – Part II

Take up any form of exercise you love that gets you breathing hard for 30 to 45 minutes a day.

by Gracelyn Guyol — 

(Editor’s note: Part I offered simple solutions that enable better brain cell functioning.)

If the “brain basics” covered in Part I of this feature did not completely lift your depression, then try the best free, fun and temporary antidepressant — exercise. Brain cells become energized by a flood of oxygen. Sustained physical movement reduces stress hormones and creates feel-good endorphins in the body that aid in relaxation and sound sleep.

Banish any thoughts of a workout and consider this play time. Take up any form of exercise you love that gets you breathing hard for 30 to 45 minutes a day.

Rely on exercise whenever you need a temporary lift. But for sustained relief from deep, long-standing depression, professional guidance is usually required.

Locating holistic mental health practitioners

How to find practitioners trained to identify and correct underlying physical causes of depression, instead of just drugging the symptoms, is the top question I am asked at lectures. The Internet has made this challenge easier. Search two ways: (1) use the type of doctor and name of your hometown/nearby city as the keywords, for example, “Orthomolecular M.D. Tucson AZ” or “N.D. New Haven CT” or (2) go to a medical association website (given below) and click on “Find a Practitioner/Doctor.”

Types of practitioners include naturopathic doctors (N.D.) at www.naturopathic.org; orthomolecular doctors (generally M.D. or N.D.), click on “Members” at www.ohmsociety.com; and N.D., M.D., D.O. or D.C., click on “Members” at the American College for Advancement in Medicine (ACAM) website, www.acam.org.

Once you find the candidates near you, visit their websites in order to determine credentials. For N.D.s, make certain they graduated from accredited naturopathic colleges such as: Bastyr University, Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine, Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, National College of Natural Medicine, National University of Health Sciences, Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine or the University of Bridgeport.

Orthomolecular medicine is the practice of using the most appropriate natural nutrients, including vitamins, minerals and other essential compounds in therapeutic doses, according to an individual’s particular biochemical requirements in order to establish optimal health.

The International Society for Orthomolecular Medicine was founded 40 years ago to educate (at annual conferences, publications and seminars) already-credentialed health care professionals and the public on the benefits of using natural essential molecules for healing.

When reviewing the biographies of orthomolecular practitioners, note where they received their medical training and what motivated them to seek options to conventional medical protocols. Each doctor’s motivation will be unique but generally falls into one of two categories: (1) dissatisfaction with the health improvements of their patients using standard Western medicine, and (2) a family/personal struggle with diagnoses considered “incurable” by conventional medicine that made them pursue holistic remedies.

Place a telephone call to the practitioner’s office with any specific questions not answered online. For instance, how much experience do they have treating your specific disorder without drugs? Many list holistic treatment of ADD/ADHD or depression on their websites, and only the most experienced will accept bipolar, schizophrenic or autistic patients. However, they may not list these disorders online for fear of a challenge from the state medical boards for using “unconventional” treatments. Make an appointment with the practitioner you find most credible and promising.

Before your appointment, read the pharmacy printout of the side effects for every prescription you take. Go to www.alternativementalhealth.com, select “Index to articles,” then “depression” and “drugs that cause depression” for a list of 176 different drugs that can cause depression. If one or more that you are taking may be a cause, ask your doctor to either substitute a different medication or help you to treat this ailment holistically, too.

What to expect

Begin with a thorough physical. It is surprising just how often some obvious physical causes are overlooked. Laboratory tests should include thyroid levels and vitamin D levels. Depression is a “classic” symptom of low thyroid. Low vitamin D plays a large role in both seasonal and major depression.

Provide a personal medical history and specifically list any injury to the head at birth, during childhood, from falls, concussions or other accidents that can alter brain waves. Such injuries may be forgotten because amnesia and memory loss can occur after concussion.

If there is a family history of depression or other mental diagnoses, get an inexpensive laboratory test for four genetic errors of metabolism, commonly found among mental patients since the 1960s: pyroluria, under-methylation, over-methylation and metal metabolism. (You can order a metabolic panel at www.pyroluriatesting.com for $195.) The natural remedies for correcting these errors are specific vitamins, minerals and amino acids. (My mania ended within four months of taking natural supplements for pyroluria.)

If insomnia is an issue, work with the doctor to discontinue sleeping pills and restore natural sleep cycles. Sleep deprivation elevates stress hormones, leaving us foggy brained and unable to think clearly. Natural sleep aids include adequate vitamin D, the hormone melatonin, amino acids l-Tryptophan, GABA powder or inositol powder, and herbs like chamomile, fennel or milk thistle.

Ninety-five percent of the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin, which antidepressants try to maintain in the brain, is actually produced in your gut. Laboratory testing for beneficial bacteria and pathogens residing in the gut will help determine what might be preventing healthy digestion, short-circuiting physical energy and brain power.

Food allergies and sensitivities are frequent causes too. In patients diagnosed as depressed, 70 percent had a history of allergies. Forget allergy scratch tests. Order blood tests measuring IgG and IgH antibody levels for a list of foods to avoid. Frequent brain-impacting allergens are wheat/gluten, dairy, corn products, chocolate, sugar and peanuts.

Emotional trauma from abuse, incest, rape, war or life-threatening incidents can make brain waves become “stuck” in unhealthy patterns. Work with neurofeedback or Brainwave Optimization practitioners to correct such patterns. Or, find psychologists who, along with talk therapy, use Emotional Transformation Therapy™ (ETT), Thought Field Therapy (TFT), or Be Set Free Fast™ (BSFF), all known for speed and effectiveness in correcting brainwave imbalances.

Most importantly, be persistent. Holistic remedies take more effort than popping a pill, but the hope for lifelong relief from depression is highly motivating.

Gracelyn Guyol is a recovered bipolar patient and author of Who’s Crazy Here. www.crazyrecovery.com.

 

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 30, Number 5, Oct/Nov 2011.

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