Do you want real solutions for fighting depression naturally or do you just want a pill?
Next to lifestyle-induced diabetes and cancer, depression may be the most searched, and most talked about health subject of our time. There are a couple of reasons for this:
- Almost 15% of the adult population in the US is taking an antidepressant, which means many more are likely depressed but can’t stand the thought of taking medication for it;
- In my opinion, the explanation is, there is no single cause of depression, and, it presents differently in every person. Likewise, there are many treatments for depression that are effective and treat the cause.
When looking at this from a broad perspective, there are really two causes of depression that can be identified. There are physical causes brought on by genetic and environmental insults, and there are mental/emotional/spiritual causes brought on by trauma we experience, choices we make, and through our interactions with others.
When I was in medical school one of the tenants of our profession was, “Treat the Cause”. When seeking treatment for depression it is critical that you address the cause not just the symptoms, because if you don’t you will continually relapse and never move forward.
In the US, the Standard of Care for treating depression includes the use of pharmaceuticals and behavioral therapies. I firmly believe that behavioral therapies are key when it comes to addressing the mental/emotional/spiritual causes of depression. Pharmaceuticals should be used if and only if there is a question of safety for the individual being treated or for the people around them.
The pharmaceuticals of choice for use in treating depression are SSRI’s and SNRI’s such as Prozac, Celexa, Zoloft, Effexor, etc.. These drugs are great for short-term use but they are poor choices as a long-term solution and can negatively affect multiple systems in the body. So why are they used so frequently? The answer is, they are an easy solution for doctors and they wonderfully mask the symptoms of depression. But they don’t treat the cause in any way and many times make things worse! So what are you left with?
There are natural treatments for depression but again what matters is that you address the symptoms and treat the cause. So what are some of the more specific causes of depression? I will break them down below. Please understand that there are short-term and long-term treatments for each condition and, in addition, those that are strongly related to and affected by neurotransmitter imbalance, and those that are not strongly related to or affected by neurotransmitter imbalance.
Causes of depression that are strongly associated with and affected by neurotransmitter imbalance:
- Bad genetics – Genetics affect biochemistry in a major way and some of us don’t make enough of certain enzymes that are critical brain function. Genetics also affect behavior too. The good news is, you can change how genes express themselves and you have the ability to maximize and to some extent change the way they function based on behavior. There are therapies and programs that address this that I can’t get into at this time, but the science is there.
- Exposure and damage from toxins – If you use your brain, you cannot deny that our world is highly toxic, or that our bodies “pick up” these toxins and sequester them in fat tissue. Guess what? The brain is mostly fatty tissue and yes, many toxins end up in the brain, causing lesions and irreversible damage to brain tissue.
- Head trauma – It’s hard to believe that we are just now realizing the detrimental effects from head trauma. But thanks to the NFL and our lust for hard hits in football, concussions have become a major topic of discussion. Google “Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy” or “CTE” and you will be amazed at just how far reaching this illness is.
- Poor quality of sleep, insomnia – By poor quality sleep, I mean sleep in which you cannot reach stage 5 or REM sleep, which is restorative to our brains and bodies. By insomnia, I mean, you can’t go to sleep because your brain won’t stop and so you aren’t sleeping at all.
- Immune system dysfunction – Some people use the term “inflammation” here. The reality is, there are many, many reasons that the immune system goes unchecked or overreacts to it’s environment. But this unchecked inflammation can cause depression and needs to be addressed if you want to find the cause.
- Gut dysfunction – There is a strong relationship between depression and gut dysfunction and relationship is inflammation. A good portion of your immune system is in your gut, so you should be able to understand that the food you eat and the bugs that reside there ultimately play a major role in how our brains work. Neurotransmitters are involved because there is also evidence that poor biochemical function can predispose you to gut dysfunction aside from what you eat.
- Poor endocrine function/hormone balance – When the endocrine system isn’t working well, you can’t function like you want to. The endocrine system is highly influenced by the brain and the immune system and by how well you treat your body.
- Mental/Emotional/Spiritual -Yes, I know this is supposed to be kept in the confines of the behavioral sciences world but every thought, impulse and action, is rooted in a biochemical reaction and you can’t separate the two. Behavior influences biochemistry and visa versa. Bad thinking, and bad behavior can only lead to self-deprecation and eventually depression.\
- Illicit drug use and abuse – If you have abused alcohol or drugs for an extended period of time, your brain isn’t going to be fine without them. Excessive drug use changes your receptors in your brain and when you take them away, your brain will be very unhappy and depression will likely ensue.
Causes of depression that are not strongly related to or affected by neurotransmitter imbalance.
- Infection – We are exposed to viruses, bacteria and molds every day. This means that our immune system is constantly searching for and reacting to these foreign invaders. If you have certain genes that predispose you to immune dysfunction and you contract certain illnesses your chances for depression related to chronic infection are greatly increased.
- Lack of exercise or movement – Movement is beneficial to our bodies in so many ways. Because of modern technologies as a species we no longer move like we used to and now, it takes intention and discipline to move efficiently and effectively. If you don’t move like a human was designed to move, you won’t feel good and you will be depressed.
So what is the best way to naturally treat depression?
You got it, treat the cause! For example, if the reason you suffer from depression is because you don’t move like humans were designed to move, then start moving. If your depression is still a factor then move on to the next cause. If you have bad genetics and everyone in your family has been diagnosed with depression, influence your brain chemistry (I’ll show you how below) and change your behavior. Do you see where I’m going with this? I’m sure you sense the sarcasm but I hope you can see why I’m hammering at the causes of depression because if you don’t treat the cause then all you are doing is “trying” things. People will say, “ oh I tried that and it didn’t work.” The next time someone tells you they’ve tried something for depression, ask them what caused their depression and watch their eyes glaze over.
The truth is, there are many solutions you can use to treat depression naturally and I’ll address a few of them below because people want a quick answer so they can go out and try something. Just please understand that I can’t address them all in this paper but I will give you a few guidelines and tell you what we use in our clinic that works both in the short-term and long-term.
Behavioral therapy – This should be the first or second solution you turn to. Most people know if they’ve been through trauma and it’s easy to get help when you have because you know you need help. Self-destructive behaviors and thought patterns aren’t so easy to spot and it can take a confrontation or crisis for some people to end up in therapy they needed years ago.
Herbal medications – there are a variety of herbs that are used to “support” individuals with depression, the most famous of which is St. John’s Wort. Many studies have proven there are benefits from the use of this herb but again, I will ask, what are you trying to accomplish when you try the herb even if the herb is used in a study? Research says that St. John’s Wort increases serotonin. That’s great, but we also know that treating only the serotonin system in isolation negatively affects the dopamine system.
Acupuncture – Acupuncture stimulates the nervous system by creating a short-circuit which will drive a systemic response of some kind. Chinese medical terms are difficult for the general population to understand and incorporate into their western medical paradigm and until we understand it from a western perspective, we won’t know how to attribute scientific value to it. With that said, some studies have shown that it is equal in effectiveness to antidepressant use and it is also used to offset the side effects of the SSRI’ medications. Many people receive acupuncture treatments for “balancing” and calming them down and I have found it to be quite effective for that.
Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation – Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation or CES is an FDA-approved treatment that uses a small handheld device with electrodes that are attached to the ears and runs electrical current through the brain. It has been shown to increase serotonin, beta-endorphins, ACTH, melatonin and norepinephrine and GABA, increase DHEA and reduce cortisol production. It has also been shown to increase alpha waves in the brain. It’s effectiveness for depression is mixed and the mechanism of action is still unknown.
Amino acid therapy – Well, what’s this? It’s funny because very few people know about it and it’s the most effective thing you can do to alleviate symptoms of depression and at the same time, treat the cause. Simply put, it is using multiple amino acids to address the neurotransmitter imbalances caused by the conditions I mentioned above. Now I know that you are going to say, “hey there bud, you have been telling us to address the cause of depression and here you are giving us a simple solution!” Yep, I have and the reality is, you need to feel better in order to want to find the cause. In a best case scenario it may take you six months or more of hard work to figure out what’s wrong and address it. Most people I’ve seen with depression don’t have the energy for that kind of tenacity unless they have help. This is exactly why people turn to the use of antidepressant medications. They are quick and easy. But the side effects are nasty and it is hell trying to quit taking them. Many of the causes listed above are rooted in neurotransmitter imbalance. For example let’s say you have gut dysfunction and specifically Crohn’s disease. I bet you didn’t know that Crohn’s is associated with amino acid imbalance! It is and responds beautifully to amino acid therapy when it is properly administered. There are many more examples I could list and I will do so in another article.
So how does amino acid therapy work and what do we use?
A combination of amino acids are taken orally in high doses throughout the day. These amino acids are absorbed into the bloodstream and provide the brain with compounds that are used to make neurotransmitters.
Nine years ago, we started using amino acid therapies in clinical practice and we had enough success to feel good about what we were doing. The protocols we used were good but we were unhappy with the results or the methodology they used. So we decided to develop our own product and protocol for balancing the neurotransmitters. After several formulations and thousands of bottles sold, we feel that we have come up with a very solid product to help support neurotransmitter imbalance as a cause of depression.
EQ is a powerful natural supplement for the brain. Scientifically created from the ground up specifically to deal with these issues. I challenge you to try EQ for a couple of months and see for yourself, worse case scenario you’re out a few dollars, but if you’re like thousands of other patients who have benefited from EQ over the last 8 years, this product could prove to be highly beneficial.Give EQ a Try