Anxiety & Depression

A FEW FACTS

DID YOU KNOW?

  • Over 25% of Australian adults report high levels of anxiety and/or depression (1)

  • Australia has the second highest consumption of anti-depressants (second to Iceland) and is increasing by 25% per year (2)

  • Anti-depressants don't work for two thirds of people (3)

THE STRESS LESS PROGRAM

 

This program is an adaptation of research into various methods used to manage and help mood disorders. The main focus areas are -

1. Vitamin B Support

B vitamins are foundational to a healthy nervous system, and has shown to be beneficial during times of stress to support healthy mood and sleep.

2. Magnesium

Whether it is taken as an oral medicine,  an external 'oil' applied to the skin, or as a hot epsom salts bath soak, magnesium is a vital element to healthy nerves and mood. For optimal results,  use in high doses. If your bowels cannot tolerate oral magnesium, apply the external oil liberally, as it is well absorbed into the blood..

3. Specific Herbal Formula

Choosing a targeted herbal formula which addresses the specific mood or stress condition (whether it be anxiety, depression, nerve depletion, adrenal fatigue, inflammation or poor sleep) is a vital key to addressing the underlying causative factors involved.

4. Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes

This is described in the 6 step program outlined below, which introduces changes in exercise, social connections, changing ruminating thought patterns into action patterns, sunlight or light therapy and developing healthy sleep patterns.

5. Light, Colour, Massage or Acupuncture Therapies

As an assistance stress-buster, these therapies offer valuable support to diminish the effects of stress and build the body/mind's ability to be resilient.

MEDITATE, NOT MEDICATE

Research data suggests that meditation has substantial beneficial effects on people experiencing depression, whether it be an acute phase depressive episode or while in partial remission. (15)

Buddha was asked

"What have you gained from meditation?"

He replied "Nothing!"

However, Buddha said, let me tell you what I have lost:

Anger, Anxiety, Depression, Insecurity, Fear of Change and Death.

STRESS THE SILENT KILLER

To manage mental health and mood disorders, it is essential to recognize the direct link between stress and the incidence of depression  and anxiety (in a dose dependent manner). (4)  High stress induces high levels of cortisol secretion (the primary stress hormone). It has been established that neither too high nor too low levels of cortisol in the body are helpful to mood health.

DHEA-S (Dehydroepiandrosterone) is another adrenal hormone which is considered the ‘anti-stress’ longevity hormone. It protects us from stress, infections and even cancer. It produces other hormones, such as testosterone and oestrogen, and as such is named the ‘parent’ hormone. It naturally declines with age and with stress exposure. Even though natural supplements of DHEA S are available, and helpful for some people, they are not for everyone. There are natural ways to boost DHEAS. You can read more about DHEA S here and how to boost it naturally here.

Cortisol and DHEA-S levels can be measured by a salivary hormone test (available at clinic), or through blood and urinary tests (a 24 hour urinary test is considered the most reliable). Typically cortisol levels are at their peak at 9 am in the morning, and at their lowest at night. For this reason, to get a complete overall cortisol assessment, a  test sample is taken at 4 times of the day – 8 am, 12 noon, 4 pm and 11pm.

To read an excellent article on cortisol, go Here 

SIGNS OF HIGH CORTISOL

  • Weight Gain

  • Puffy Flushed face

  • Mood Swings

  • Susceptible to Infections

  • Increased Anxiety

  • Poor Sleep / fatigue

  • High Blood Pressure

  • Acne

  • Higher Risk of Bone Fractures

  • Muscle Aches and Pains

  • Low Libido

  • Excess Thirst

  • Increased Urination

  • Irregular Periods and Fertility Problems

Withania (Ashwaganda)

The Depression Cure:

The 6-step Program to Beat Depression Without Drugs’

 

This book written by Stephen S. Ilardi is an excellent easy read and outlines 6 highly effective therapeutic lifestyle changes  which have demonstrated empirically to cure depression naturally.

 

The six changes include –

 

  1. Brain Food (specific nutrients and supplements) 

  2. Act instead of Thinking Excessively / Ruminating 

  3. Exercise

  4. Therapeutic Light

  5. Getting Connected to People and

  6. Healthy Sleep Patterns.

 

Watch his space for a written synopsis of his methods…coming soon,

To view his TED talk  go Here 

and to buy his book, go Here 

SOME FACTS

(Based on Research Findings)

2.8 grams dose  of Passionflower daily showed to be equally as effective in reducing anxiety symptoms as benzodiazepine. Although the benzodiazepine had a rapid onset of action, after 4 days Passionflower was equally as effective, with fewer work performance problems compared to the benzodiazepine. (7)

Patients who received oral premedication with Passiflora incarnata  had a significant decrease in anxiety levels within 30 minutes compared to patients who received placebo. (8)

NATURAL WAYS TO DECREASE YOUR STRESS AND CORTISOL LEVELS

Natural cortisol-lowering techniques include mindfulness, exercise, and a diet rich in fresh vegetables, clean protein and fruit.

Adaptogenic herbs are used to lower cortisol levels. These include –

  • Ginseng (Panax and Siberian)

  • Ashwaganda (Withania)

  • Rhodiola

  • Astragalus

  • Licorice

The essential oil and herb Holy Basil  also fights fatigue and stress.

All the above herbs are excellent adrenal gland tonics which will help the adrenals function better and cope better with high levels of stress. Exercise actually ‘burns up’ high cortisol levels and is the reason why regular aerobic exercise is one of the most potent ‘stress busters’.

 

One favourite preparation which I have witnessed countless patients improve their stress symptoms with, particularly depression,  is Metagenics Adrenotone, which contains many of the above stated herbs.

As with all mood disorders, a base line of essential nerve nutrients, a strong multi B vitamin and well absorbable Magnesium supplement is also recommended.

EXERCISE AS MIND-BODY MEDICINE

Studies have shown that exercise is as effective as anti-depressants and psychotherapy. In fact a wide reange of investigators have found exercise to benefit all types of mood disorders, including bipolar, premenstrual syndrome, post-natal depression and seasonal affective depression disorder. (5) This is particularly true for aerobic exercise which has been show to improve mitochrondrial function (increase energy) and increase beneficial brain neuro-chemicals, such as BDNF.

All that is required for therapeutic effects is 30 to 40 minutes 4 times weekly of aerobic exercise, which may be brisk walking, cycling, swimming, dancing or active gardening. Not only does the exercise benefit the mind-body, but a natural environment with natural sunlight will give added  benefits.

You can suggest going for a walk with a friend along the beach or in a park, instead of catching up for coffee. You can walk or cycle to the shops or to visit a friend.  Or you can also practice mindfulness as you walk in nature, observing nature sounds, smells and sights. Alternatively (my favourite) is to repeat positive auto-suggestions quietly to yourself as you walk. Studies have shown that the brain changes its neuro-brain patterns more easily during walking exercise.

SLEEP – OUR NATURAL MOOD HEALER

Good quality sleep  (and sufficient quantity – approximately 7 to 8 hours per night) is essential to recovering from any mood disorder.

Here are some tips to help –

SLEEP PROMOTERS 

 

  • Go to bed early and get up at the same time

  • Have an early, light dinner

  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol at night

  • Comfortable mattress and bedding

  • Read a book in bed

  • Relaxation exercises, particularly before bed

  • Low light (fire, candle or salt lamp lights all promote sleepiness)

  • Block blue light from LED lighting, mobile phones, ipad and computer screens at night

  • Go for a walk in green nature in the afternoon

SLEEP  PREVENTERS 

  • Going to bed when not tired

  • Coffee and chocolate after dinner

  • Stress and anxiety

  • Poor quality bedding

  • Hot bedroom with no circulation

  • Using interactive devices at night

  • Indoors all day, no exercise.

MAGNESIUM : THE NUTRITIONAL RESCUE REMEDY

SOME FACTS

  • Magnesium is the forth most abundant mineral in the body and is used in hundreds of biochemical reactions, especially for making ATP (energy) making it essential for human health.

  • Magnesium is depleted by stress (and also by drinking coffee, alcohol and by taking oral contraceptives).

  • It has been shown that depressed individuals have low magnesium levels. Low magnesium also causes sleep disturbances and a tendency towards inflammation.

  • Early signs of low magnesium deficiency include – anxiety, lethargy, weakness, agitation, depression, painful periods, sweet cravings, hyperactivity, headaches, cramps, tight muscles, low stress tolerance, loss of appetite, nausea and poor sleep patterns.

  • As early as 1921 a report on the therapeutic effect of magnesium was published in the first issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry (and immediately forgotten). In 50 patients with agitated depression, treatment caused patients to relax and sleep from 4 to 6 hours resulting in a 90% success rate for magnesium. (9)

  • Magnesium supplementation is one of the cornerstones to all treatment of mood disorders.

  • Recent studies have shown that trans-dermal application (applying to skin) of magnesium chloride is one of the most effective methods to absorb magnesium. Magnesium ‘oil’ or creams can be applied liberally over the body and is preferred if your bowels tend to loosen too quickly with oral magnesium.

  • 450 mg/day of elemental magnesium is as effective antidepressant as 50 mg/day of imipramine in elderly patients. (10)

  • 490 mg/day elemental magnesium was found to be equivalent to lithium in manic-depressive patients, and perhaps superior to lithium in about one third of these patients.(11)

  • Magnesium and B6 given to epileptic patients suffering anxiety, depression and/or psychosis, improved mood within 14 days of treatment.  (12)

Here are some natural remedies to help your sleep –

  • Apply Magnesium oil on your body before bed

  • Smear lavender oil over your ears and neck at bed-time

  • Hot bath with Epsom salts and lavender oil just before bed

  • Herbs of  Californian Poppy, Passionflower, Valerian, Ziziphrus and Chammomile are all helpful.

ARTICLE VALIDATING THERAPEUTIC EFFECTS OF LIGHT THERAPY

  • 'Light Therapy For Depression'  here  By Roni Caryn Rabin, New York Times, Jan 2011. 

THE ROLE OF TUMERIC IN DEPRESSSION

Stress and inflammation go hand in hand. A discovery in the field of psychiatry occurred in 1987 when it was noted that most hepatitis patients receiving interferon therapy developed psychiatric complaints. As interferon induces inflammation, the researchers suspected the depression was linked to the induction of inflammation from the therapy. (13) Subsequent studies have confirmed this link between increased inflammation and higher levels of cytokines found in people suffering from depression and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Studies on animals have clearly shown that the induction of inflammation causes depressive behaviour. (14) Additionally, it has been shown that using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)  provides significant anti-depressant relief to depressed individuals. (15) This translates to the need for treating inflammation as part of an anti-depressant protocol.

The mechanism by which inflammation triggers mood disorders is via the pro-inflammatory cytokines and immune system (white blood cells) which are activated when stress or an inflammation is present. These quickly circulate to the brain blood barrier, where they penetrate and activate immune reactions in the brain akin to “setting the brain on fire”.

Not all depressed individuals have inflammation, and not all inflamed people are depressed, however inflammation is a strong risk factor that underlies the depressed person. Resolving inflammation will not only improve mood, but also improve every other aspects of a person’s health, particularly sleep, energy and general well-being.

Are You Interested In

Partaking in a Clinical Study

To Measure the Effects

Of  Colour Therapy

On Depression?

If so,  for more information read here

TOP KEY TREATMENTS FOR INFLAMMATION

Firstly, reduce risk factors, by doing the following – move, exercise, give up smoking and reduce alcohol, reduce or eliminate sugar and refined carbohydrates, manage stress better (include regular relaxing lifestyle changes like meditation, qi gong, yoga, massages, laughter, hot Epsom salts baths, nature walks) regularly into your routine.

The best anti-inflammatory substances I have found are Tumeric, Quercitin, MSM, Ginger and Boswellia (Frankinsence).

Tumeric is nic-named the herbal Swiss army knife due to its highly effective ability to treat inflammation effectively (inflammation being at the root cause of many, if not most of today’s illnesses – including altzeimer’s disease, diabetes, allergies, asthma, crohn’s disease, eczema, heart disease, fibromyalgia, lupus, arthritis and more).

Tumeric is arguably one of the most potent and effective herbs for treating inflammation. It also is highly effective in managing depression, protects brain from neuro-toxic damage and improve mood.

Another useful herb used to help depression is Hypericum (St. John’s wort), which is considered an effective nerve tonic.

Near Infra Red (NIR) therapy has also demonstrated anti-inflammatory effects. Transcranial therapy on acupuncture or electro-cardiograph points of the cranium has been demonstrated to decrease depressive symptoms (18).

REFERENCES

 

  1. Australian Psychological Society. Stress & Wellbeing:How Australians are Coping with Life. https:/www.psychology.org.au/Assests/Files/PW15-SR.pdf

  2. OECD health Statistics 2013, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/health-data-en

  3. Metagenics Seminar, Functional Psychiatry, Andrew Thurgood, 2016

  4. Hammenn C, Kim EY, Eberhart NK, Brennan PA. Chronic and Acute Stress and the Prediction of Major Depression in Women. Depress Anxiety. 2009;26(8):718-23.

  5. Ranjbar E, et al, Depression and Exercise: A Clinicsal review and Management Guideline. Asian J Sports Med. 2015; 6(2):e24055

  6. Light Therapy For Depression'  here  By Roni Caryn Rabin, New York Times, Jan 2011.

  7. Akhondzadeh S, et al. Passionflower in the treatment of Generalized Anxiety; a pilot double blind randomized controlled trial with oxazepam. J Clin Pharm Ther. 2001;26(5):363-7

  8. Movafegh A, et al. International Anaesthesia research Society 2008. 106 (6) 1728-1732

  9. Cited in Eby GA 3rd, Eby KL. Magnesium for treatment-resistant depression: a review and hypothesis. Med Hypotheses 2010;74(4):649-60

  10. Carman JS, Wyatt RJ. Biol Psychiatry 1979;14:295-336

  11. Kalinin Vv et al. Vserossiiskoe obshchestvo psikhiatrov. 2003 Dec;104(8):51-5

  12. Chouinard G, et al. Progress in neuro-Psychopharmocology and Biological Psychiatry. 1990 Jan 1;14(2):171-80

  13. Renault, PF. Et al. Psychiatric complications of long term interferon alpha therapy. Arch. Intern. Med. 147, 1577-1580 (1987)

  14. Hodes, GE, Kana V, et al.. Neuroimmune mechanisms of depression. Nat neurosci. 2015; 18(10):1386-93.

  15. Kholer O, et al.Effect of anti-inflammatory treatment on depression, depressive symptoms and adverse effects: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. JAMA Psychiatry. 2014 Dec 1:7(12): 1381-91

  16. Cassano P, et al. Near-Infrared Transcranial Radiation for Major Depressive Disorder: Proof of Concept Study. Psychiatry Journal  (2015) 

  17. Jain FA, et al. Critical analysis of the efficiacy of meditation therapies for acute and subacute phase treatment of depressive disorders: a systematic review. Psychosomatics. 2015 Mar-Apr; 56(2): 140-52

  18. Cassano P, et al.Review of transcranial photobiomodulation for major depressive disorder: targeting brain metabolism, inflammation, oxidative stress, and neurogenesis. Neurophotonics. 2016 Jul;3(3):031404

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