• How Nutritional and Alternative Treatments Can Help You Avoid Using Drugs for Depression

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    How are depressed? Many studies has been made to aid depression. I have read a topic that Diet can help eas depression. But most studies says that thier is still no link or even a specific diet to help clinical depression. As people search for cure for depression they question if antidepressant is is the best apporoach.

    Contrary to popular belief, there are safer—and oftentimes far more effective—alternatives to the drug route, as explained here by Dr. Hyla Cass, a practicing psychiatrist who uses integrative medicine.

    Why Focus on Natural Interventions for Depression?

    Early on, Dr. Cass began searching for other doctors of like mind, and discovered a mentor in Dr. Abram Hoffer, the co-founder of  “orthomolecular medicine.” This refers to the concept of nutritional deficiencies being a source of mental illness, and the right nutrients or molecules can correct the problem.

    “While I was in my residency at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, I began to notice that medications had side effects… It would be okay if the side effects were worth it, but most of the time they weren’t…”

    Nutrition Is Essential for Proper Brain Function

    Long before holistic health became a catch phrase, Dr. Cass began pursuing the use of nutritional supplements rather than medication, and lo and behold, her patients improved.

    A huge drawback of the conventional mental health care system is that few doctors have the time, or take the time, to sort out the root of the problem with each patient. It’s a lot easier to simply write a drug prescription. Dr. Cass, on the other hand, takes the time to focus on finding, and then treating, the root cause.

    The Placebo Effect in Action

    People can get quite defensive when you mention that antidepressants may be doing more harm than good, and that there are better alternatives. Many insist their whole life changed for the better once they started taking an antidepressant, and they cannot conceive living without it.

    An earlier meta-analysis published in PLoS Medicine also concluded that the difference between antidepressants and placebo pills is very small. Other research into the placebo effect noted that “the placebo effect is an unacknowledged partner for powerful medications.”

    “Here we are with these miracle bodies. What we have to do is feed them right and treat them right, and we'll get the most wonderful results,” Dr. Cass says.

    “On the other hand, if we overuse or misuse medication, which is often the case, you’re just going to cause these side effects, some of them very dangerous, and won’t ever deal with the root cause.

    Gluten Sensitivity—A Common But Hidden Cause of Depression

    You may not have realized this, but the gluten level in our grains is much higher today than it ever was before, thanks to various breeding techniques, and gluten can produce depression if you're sensitive to it. In such a case, the key is to remove gluten from your diet entirely. You cannot simply cut down. It must be removed completely. In Dr. Cass' practice, she's seen many people recover from severe depression when going gluten-free.

    “They start to feel better, their mood improves. The depression, it turned out was really due to gluten sensitivity. And you may ask, “How can gluten affect your brain like that? What is going on?” It has to do with inflammation,” she explains. “When gluten is inflaming your gut, it’s also inflaming your brain. Whatever’s going on in your gut is also going on in your brain. They’re very connected.

    High Dose Niacin for Psychosis

    Before he attended medical school, the mentor I mentioned, Dr. Abram Hoffer, received a PhD in biochemistry specializing in vitamin B research. So when he became director of the largest psychiatric hospital in Saskatchewan, he used his knowledge to research the administration of high doses of niacin (vitamin B3) to schizophrenic  patients.

    Amazingly, he was able to get many of these very ill mental patients well enough to be released, get married and go on to lead normal lives. It turns out that pellagra, a disorder caused by niacin deficiency, produces the same psychiatric symptoms such as irrational anger, feelings of persecution, mania, and dementia that were found in many of these “ hopelessly incurable” patients. The cure was giving them the deficient B vitamin. Sadly, despite “performing miracles” on these hard-to-treat patients, Dr. Hoffer’s ground-breaking research was discredited by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), which was sadly more interested in promoting drugs.

    How to Revert from Antidepressants to More Natural Treatments

    If you’re currently on an antidepressant and want to get off it, ideally you’ll want to have the cooperation of your prescribing physician. Some doctors are happy to help you to withdraw if they know that you’re going to be responsible about it. Others may not want to bother, or they don’t believe that you can get off the medication. As noted by Dr. Cass, you may need to do some reading in order to be better prepared.

    You can also turn to an organization with a referral list of doctors who practice more biologically or naturally, such as the American College for Advancement in Medicine Also, it doesn’t make much sense to withdraw unless you’re implementing some other strategy to address the cause of your depression. In summary, Dr. Cass suggests keeping the following guidelines in mind:

    Under your prescribing physician's supervision, start lowering the dosage of the antidepressant you're taking. There are protocols for gradually reducing the dose of the medication that your doctor should be well aware of.
    At the same time, start taking a multivitamin. Start taking low doses. If you're quitting an SSRI under doctor supervision, you can go on a low dose of 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP).
    For bipolar patients, Dr. Cass and other holistic psychiatrists may prescribe nutritional supplements such as fish oil (omega-3 fats), inositol, tryptophan, and others, depending on the individual's need.
    Bipolar symptoms can also be related to Lyme disease, so if Lyme infection is present, that needs to be addressed, also by a more functionally oriented doctor.
    Chronic inflammation in general appears to be a significant underlying factor causing symptoms of depression, so keeping inflammation in check is an important part of any effective treatment plan. If you're gluten sensitive, you will need to remove all gluten from your diet. A food sensitivity test can help ascertain this.
    Vitamin D deficiency is another important biological factor that can play a significant role in mental health. A double-blind randomized trial published in 2008 concluded that: “It appears to be a relation between serum levels of 25(OH)D and symptoms of depression. Supplementation with high doses of vitamin D seems to ameliorate these symptoms indicating a possible causal relationship.” Recent research also claims that low vitamin D levels appear to be associated with suicide attempts. Ideally, maintain your vitamin D level between 50-70 ng/ml year-round.
    Unbalanced gut flora have also been identified as a significant contributing factor to depression, so be sure to optimize your gut health, either by regularly eating traditionally fermented foods, or taking a high quality probiotic.
    Make sure you’re getting enough high quality sleep, as sleep is essential for optimal mood and mental health. A fitness tracker that tracks your sleep can be a useful tool.
    The inability to fall asleep and stay asleep can be due to elevated cortisol levels, so if you have trouble sleeping, you may want to get your saliva cortisol level tested with an Adrenal Stress Index test.
    Meditation can also help. A new piece of technology that can be quite useful is a headband sensor called Muse. It gives you real-time feedback on your brain wave frequencies, which can help train you to enter into deeper states of relaxation and meditation. I've been using it for 15 minutes twice a day for about six months, and I've noticed some really impressive improvements.
    Other helpful tools to ease symptoms of depression and anxiety include Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), and Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT). EFT is well-studied, and recent research found it significantly increased positive emotions, such as hope and enjoyment, and decreased negative emotional states like anger and shame.

    Many ‘Depressed' Women Are Actually in Perimenopause

    Amazingly, 23 percent of women over the age of 40 are on antidepressants. According to Dr. Cass, this is likely due to misdiagnosis of perimenopause or other hormonal imbalances. Women are entering perimenopause at younger ages these days; some even before the age of 40, and this phase can last for years.

    More Information

    For more information, please see Dr. Cass’ website, She has also authored four books on these subjects: Natural Highs, 8 Weeks to Vibrant Health, and The Addicted Brain: How to Break Free, which details how to get off addictive substances including medications. Another book, Supplement Your Prescription, deals with detecting and treating the nutrient deficiencies caused by medications.

    Therapeutic doses may range from 400 mg to 1,600 mg per day. For best results, SAM-e should be taken with B vitamins, including B6, B12, and folic acid. Adequate levels of these vitamins will ensure that SAM-e is not converted to the amino acid, homocysteine, which has been implicated in atherosclerosis, a root cause of cardiovascular disease. Folic acid, also known as folate, is also under investigation as a therapy for mild depression. Folate is often abnormally low among people with depression, and some clinical trials indicate that adding folate to the diet may improve the effectiveness of modern antidepressant drugs.

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    Photo Source: Hartwig HKD



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