Just a Case of “The Blues” or Something More?

Oftentimes the face of depression does not always fit the mold: a successful career, loving spouse, wonderful children, seemingly good health and finances. From the outside life appears perfect, so why are you depressed?
A staggering 230 million antidepressant prescriptions are filled each year, and the number of people suffering from depression continues to climb – currently, 19 million Americans suffer from it. Since May is National Mental Health Month, I would like to provide insight into this serious health problem plaguing America.

It is possible that depression doesn’t stand alone. Instead, it is a symptom of an underlying health problem. Individual symptoms should not be treated as separate entities, but as pieces to a puzzle, which can assist in locating the root problem. Unfortunately, the modern day medical paradigm looks no further than prescription drugs. For symptoms of depression, an antidepressant is the immediate go-to. However, each drug tends to have its own side effects, and before you know it, your list of symptoms has grown along with the drugs in your medicine cabinet. Even worse, you aren’t feeling any better.

An Unlikely Suspect

Constant fatigue and lack of energy is a common side effect of depression, but if you look more closely you might notice how many symptoms of depression coincide with symptoms of low thyroid function: extreme fatigue, migraines, insomnia, depression, hair loss, constipation, joint pain, muscle aches and weight gain. Hypothyroidism is often overlooked as a diagnosis. In fact, it’s estimated that more than 13 million Americans are suffering from untreated hypothyroidism. To evaluate the likelihood you suffer from hypothyroidism, take this online hormonal quiz.

What you can do

Numerous studies have shown there are effective natural alternatives to relieving symptoms of depression. The following healthy lifestyle factors can play a critical role in your overall mental health:

• Exercise regularly: Your emotional state affects your overall health, and exercise has been shown to improve mood, relieve stress, anxiety as well as reduce tension, anger and fatigue. Set a goal of 30 to 60 minutes per day. A good place to start is by walking.

• According to American Journal of Preventive Medicine, a 2005 study found among study participants who were all diagnosed with mild to moderate depression that depressive symptoms were cut in half for those who participated in 30-minute aerobic exercise sessions three to five times a week after 12 weeks, and those who did stretching flexibility exercises 15 to 20 minutes three days a week averaged a 29 percent decline.

• Take key vitamins to help boost your mood:

Vitamin D –a vast majority of Americans have low levels of vitamin D. Ask your physician to check your vitamin D level to see if you need to supplement with a high quality vitamin.

Fish Oil – supplement with high quality omega-3 fats, such as fish oil.

Magnesium Citrate (Mg) – a mineral essential in the formation of our cells’ energy molecule which controls the activation of our nervous system. It specifically aids in alleviating the following:

Depression – serotonin which elevates mood is dependent on Mg

Anxiety & panic attacks – Mg keeps adrenal stress hormones under control

Fatigue – Mg deficient patients commonly experience fatigue because dozens of enzyme systems are under-functioning.

Migraines – deficiency in serotonin can result in migraine headaches

Vitamin B-6 – aids in improving depression by balancing neurotransmitters.

Vitamins to alleviate stress: L-Tyrosine; Phosphatidylserine; L-Glutamine; B-complex; Vitamin C; and GABA.

Vitamins for thyroid support: Selenium; Tyrosine; Iodoral; Magnesium.

Clean up your diet:

• Avoid foods containing high saturated fats. Instead choose good types of fat, which are high in Omega 3’s, such as fish and dark green vegetables. Avoid highly processed foods including artificial sugars, diet sodas and anything with high fructose corn syrup.

• Check your hormones: Whether it is the body’s thyroid hormone or sex hormones, hormonal decline begins to occur as we age. It can also be triggered during certain stages of life, such as after childbirth, menopause and puberty. Maintain healthy levels of the body’s naturally occurring hormones: if you have low levels resulting in an imbalance, you can supplement with bioidentical hormones known as bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT).

• Check all the signs and symptoms before resorting to antidepressants, and be aware of the side effects accompanying these drugs. Take charge of your own mental and physical health by incorporating lifestyle changes as well as turning your focus towards alternative methods for improving depression. Break out of the vicious cycle of placating one negative side effect with the addition of yet another drug. Lastly, do your research and be your own health advocate.

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