Let’s talk about mental health.
Depression and anxiety are common (and becoming less and less taboo in our modern culture) – however, with conditions that seem to be always present, comes lazier, less targeted, mass-supplied treatments that often overlook the cause of the problem to begin with. In any given year, around 19 million adults suffer from depression. Depression and related mood disorders rank right behind high-blood pressure as the most common thing people visit their doctors over. Sadly, most individuals who consult their doctor for mood-related issues are blindly placed on prescription medications. Even worse, many of these issues directly contribute to migraine-related problems! While the two issues may seem unrelated on the surface, studies show quite the contrary.
The Catch 22
The most common antidepressants are known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These (including Lexapro, Prozac, Paxil, Celexa, Zoloft and a host of others) are supposed to keep serotonin hanging out in the brain for longer periods of time. Effexor and Cymbalta are designed to inhibit reabsorption of serotonin and also the neurotransmitter, norepinephrine. Unfortunately, most individuals already suffering from mood disorders are extremely low in serotonin to begin with – so blocking the re-uptake of what little serotonin there is (allowing it to stay active longer) does little to boost overall serotonin levels. Patients are usually led into an infinite loop of hopping from one brand of pill to another, never really finding a viable solution to their issues.
Medication And Its Impact
Those suffering from anxiety are commonly prescribed benzodiazepines (tranquilizer) like Ativan, Xanax or Klonopin. Although designed to show immediate “improvements”, these medications carry numerous unwanted side effects – including poor sleep, seizures, mania, depression, suicide, ringing in the ears, amnesia, dizziness, anxiety, disorientation, low blood pressure, nausea, fluid retention, tremors, sexual dysfunction (decreased desire and performance), weakness, drowsiness and headaches. Whew. That’s a list!
Even more disheartening, preschool aged children have seen one of the highest spikes in usage. Additionally, tens of thousands of adults experience drug-induced tardive dyskinesia (known as tremors or uncontrollable shakes). For many, these tremors become permanent!
These treatments to help “cure” depression and anxiety can actually cause depression, anxiety, addiction, suicidal tendencies, tremors or involuntary muscle spasms and senility. Somewhere along the way, we began accepting that depression should be treated with medication that causes depression. See why this doesn’t make sense!
Furthermore, health statistics of migraine patients shows depression and anxiety in over 80 percent of those reviewed – even higher among patients suffering from chronic migraines preceded by an aura phase.
Some people are born with a gene arrangement that influences both migraines AND depression.
While anxiety is usually attributed to behavioral factors, migraines and depression are more likely to be of a neuro-chemical nature. The fact that migraines can occur in patients clinically diagnosed with mental disorders can be explained with one neuro-chemical theory: enzymes that fail to deliver messages to the brain can prompt certain physiological and behavioral reactions. Many patients who live with migraines, in turn, experience a certain level of anxiety (fearing the next onset). This anxiousness can turn into depression after just one episode, often becoming recurrent. Once again, an infinite loop!
A Smarter Approach
We need to look at this at a deeper level. How we feel is largely determined by the foods we eat and how well these building blocks are converted into neurotransmitters, which as brain chemicals control our moods.
Orthomolecular physicians, like myself have recognized that, in many cases of physiological and psychological disorders, proper health can be reestablished simply by properly correcting and normalizing the balance of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and other similar substances within the body. Unlike drug therapy – which attempts to cover up the symptoms associated with a mood disorder, orthomolecular medicine seeks to find and correct the cause of the illness.
You are what you eat – and research proves, diet truly does make an impact on the state of mental and physical health!
Diet, Diet, Diet!
Chains of essential and nonessential amino acids make up proteins. Many of these amino acids are then converted into neurotransmitters. The brain needs adequate amounts of protein and their amino acids for the production of neurotransmitters.
Natural, organic foods like watercress, spirulina, pumpkin and soybeans are fantastic sources of both healthy amino acids and essential protein.
Supplementing your diet with 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP, a form of the naturally occurring chemical tryptophan) helps raise serotonin levels. 5-HTP is available over the counter at most grocery and health food stores and works extremely well for most patients. Studies have even shown it can even be as effective as antidepressant drug therapy (including SSRI medications).
Healthier Choices, Healthier Life!
With the proper use of orthomolecular medicine and by correcting nutritional insufficiencies at the dietary level, we can get closer to the root of the problem (without having to resort to harmful chemical prescriptions that often do little more than cause side effects)!
Small, healthy changes to your diet and supplements go incredibly far when you’re seeking a more peaceful, manageable mind. Be smart, be healthy!