Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Overcoming Depression

Dear Patients,

Happy New Year!  Hope you all had a good start already. Due to the lack of sunlight and various other reasons, people seem to suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affect Disorder) around this time of the year. Normal people can fall into depression and those who are prone to depression, can get worse.  

One in 10 people over age 12 in the United States is taking an antidepressant, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which is conducted by the Center for Disease Control. Women between the ages of 40 and 59 are the most likely group to take antidepressants. In this age range, 23 percent of U.S. women are taking one. The survey also found that 60 percent of the respondents had been on their antidepressant for at least two years and 14 percent of the respondents had been taking their antidepressant for 10 years or longer.

No need to say that Antidepressants are one of the world’s best selling drugs.  Most of the Antidepressants we use today are Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI) which block the serotonin reabsorption receptors. This will artificially increase the serotonin level in the brain.  Current medical society thinking believes that depression is due to a deficiency of the neurotransmitter Serotonin.  We all know Antidepressants have many side effects like agitation, amnesia, anxiety, insomnia, and worst of all, increasing suicide rate. That’s why many of them carry the black box warning.

It’s amazing that not many people ask this simple question - If patient is deficient in serotonin, why not supplement with natural products necessary to produce serotonin? Or perhaps change diet, in order to supply the body with the raw materials it needs to produce serotonin? Or find out which body function is not functioning adequately to produce serotonin and fix it.

Which leads us into the topic of; the natural means of treating depression. The methods I use are very efficient.  I have treated hundreds patients with depression naturally and have taken many patients off of antidepressants successfully.

First, I always start with the Digestive system. It goes more than just eating healthy food with wide varieties of nutrients. We need to focus on proteins and good fats (neurotransmitters are amino acids from proteins, and brains are made up mostly by fat and cholesterol) so we can make neurotransmitters. We can; eat clean food,  absorb less toxins like aspartame (shown to decrease serotonin level) in artificial sweeteners, eliminate properly to remove toxin, enhance good bacteria to detox, absorb and produce vitamins.  On top of all this,nearly 90% of the serotonin in our body is stored in our intestinal tract. A healthy guts is crucial for our mental health. Please read “Second Brain” from Michael D. Gershon, MD and my previous two articles about digestion system from my blog.

Second, exercise is probably as effective treating depression as antidepressants with much less relapse rate. Exercise has been shown to raise serotonin level. My experience suggests at least 30 minutes moderate exercise under the sun and fresh air, 5 days a week can improve mood for almost anyone.

Third, take supplements to replenish all of your nutrients.  5-HTP, the precursor of serotonin is a must. However, balance all other neurotransmitters and other crucial nutrients; vitamin and minerals like vitamin B12, B complex, Omega 3 fatty acids, magnesium, etc. One of the most important supplements will be vitamin D3.  We almost inevitably fall into depression if our Vitamin D3 level is below 30, a level between 60-80 is optimal for a happy mood on top of the many other benefits. This may be one of the main reasons for SAD.

And last, but not least, is the balancing of hormones.  The thyroid hormones probably play the most major role with depression. My experience is one third of my patients will come out of depression just by optimizing their thyroid function.  Again, please read the articles in my blog for the info. Adrenal function need to be replenished before thyroid can work properly. Balancing all sex hormones;like testosterone, estradiol, progesterone, pregnenolone and DHEA play magic to our mental health as well as our physical health, is a must for any healthy living.

One very important warning. Never try to stop taking an antidepressant by yourself. Only do it with a physician guidance.  It may cause major crisis.  I usually rehabilitate the whole bodily system before I wean patients off of antidepressants, with very delicate schedule and careful monitoring.

Please feel free to share my website or blog with all your friends. Less drug usage and more natural treatments will cut back national budget deficiency, thence less tax for all of us.

Wish you all a healthy and productive new year with many happiness in your journey.

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