You’re not alone….

  • One in six New Zealanders will experience serious depression, at some time in their life.
  • Approximately one in seven young people in New Zealand will experience a major depressive disorder before the age of 24. The Lowdown website has been created to help youth understand and deal with depression.
  • Women have higher rates of depression than men (one in five women,  compared with one in eight men, will have depression over their  lifetime).

It is serious….

  • Depression is one of the most common reasons that people are absent from work, or are unable to run a home.
  • The World Health Organisation estimates that by the year 2020,  depression will be the second most common cause of ill health and  premature death worldwide.
  • Depression is the most common risk factor for suicidal behaviour  (it’s estimated that depression increases the risk of suicide by 20  times).
    See depression.org.nz

What Are Depression and Anxiety?
Depression and anxiety can impact individuals of any age. People with depression frequently also suffer from anxiety.

The  causes of depression and anxiety appear to be complicated. While there  may be a biochemical cause, meaning that certain  chemicals-neurotransmitters-in the brain may be low, it is not clear if  the low level of the neurotransmitter is the primary cause of the  depression, or simply a marker for the cause of depression. In addition  to biochemical causes, there are also genetic, psychological, emotional,  environmental, social, and spiritual factors that influence depression  and anxiety.

Depression
Depression is the most common  psychiatric disorder. It is a disabling condition that adversely affects  a person’s family, work or school life, sleeping and eating habits, and  general health. In the westernised world, the incidence of depression has  increased every year in the past century, and now one out of six people  will experience a depressive episode.

Depression is typically  characterized by low mood, low self-esteem, and loss of interest or  pleasure in normally enjoyable activities. Symptoms include:

  • Sleep disorders (too much or too little)
  • Shifts in appetite and weight (too much or too little)
  • Irritability or anxiety
  • Chronic physical symptoms, including pain, gastrointestinal disturbances, headaches, etc.
  • Loss of energy and fatigue
  • Feelings of persistent sadness, guilt, hopelessness, or loss of self-worth
  • Thinking difficulties, such as memory loss, challenges concentrating or making decisions
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Some more facts about depression:

  • Women suffer from depression at approximately twice the rate of men.
  • Only  50 percent of people actively seek treatment, even though  more than 80 percent of cases can find alleviation of their symptoms  through treatment.
  • Depression causes unnecessary suffering and is a risk factor for suicide.
  • Approximately  3.4 pecent of people with major depression commit suicide, and up to 60  percent of all people who commit suicide have depression or another  mood disorder.

Anxiety
Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress,  and it can serve as a prompt to deal with difficult situations.  However, when anxiety becomes excessive, it may fall under the  classification of an anxiety disorder. Almost one out of four people  experience an anxiety disorder during their lifetime.

Anxiety  disorder is characterized by emotional, physical, and behavioral  symptoms that create an unpleasant feeling that is typically described  as uneasiness, fear, or worry. The worry is frequently accompanied by  physical symptoms, especially fatigue, headaches, muscle tension, muscle  aches, difficulty swallowing, trembling, twitching, irritability,  sweating, and hot flashes.

While generalized anxiety disorder is  the most common, there are other anxiety disorders, including  obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, phobias, and  post-traumatic stress disorder.

What Lifestyle Changes Are Recommended for Depression and Anxiety?

Lifestyle  changes are simple but powerful tools in treating depression. Sometimes  they might be all you need. Even if you need other treatment as well,  lifestyle changes go a long way toward helping lift depression.  Lifestyle changes that can treat depression include:

Exercise
Numerous well-designed studies have found exercise  to be as effective as prescription antidepressants or psychotherapy,  which are roughly equivalent to each other in their success rates for  treating depression. The bulk of studies evaluating the impact of  exercise on anxiety have found an improvement in symptoms with increased  physical activity.

Exercise stimulates the body to produce  serotonin and endorphins, which are chemicals in the brain  (neurotransmitters) that alleviate depression. But that only partially  explains the positive impacts of exercise on depression.

Participating  in an exercise program can increase self-esteem, self-confidence, and  sense of empowerment, as well as improve social connection and enhance relationships. All of these things have a positive impact on a depressed individual.

Diet
A number of studies have shown that a diet  high in simple sugars or in caffeine (750 mg daily) is related to  increased rates of major depression. In one small study, eliminating  refined sugars and caffeine results in improved symptoms of depression  within one week. Long-term use of caffeine has been linked with anxiety  as well.

Longer term studies in this area are needed, but  minimizing refined sugars and caffeine is currently an easy and logical  recommendation.

Alcohol
Depressed  populations also have more problems with alcohol use. People suffering  from depression should stop drinking alcohol. If alcohol abuse underlies  the depression, it is critical that it be addressed directly.

Sleep
Poor sleep has a strong effect on mood. Make getting the amount of sleep you need a priority.

Social Support
Strong social networks  reduce isolation, a key risk factor for depression. Keep in regular  contact with friends and family, or consider joining a class or group.  Volunteering is a wonderful way to get social support and help others  while also helping yourself.

Stress Reduction
Make changes in your life to help manage and reduce stress. Too much stress exacerbates depression and puts you at risk for future depression.

Integrative Therapies and Healing Practices to Consider for Depression?

Mind Body Practices

Meditation, NLP and hypnosis have been an important  part of traditional healing approaches for millennia (e.g. Ayurvedic,  Chinese, Tibetan). In addition, hypnosis is used by conventional  psychotherapists.

Early studies in yoga, breathwork, stress reduction, and relaxation therapy cost little to learn and are worth pursuing. People often recognise the importance of simply doing something and creating a  sense of control over some aspect of life, and these practices can provide that.

Music Therapy
Music therapy  involves actively listening to or performing music to promote health  and healing. In an early, small study with an older population and  depression, music therapy produced a significant positive impact.  

Botanical Medicines
The  uniqueness of each person’s biochemical processes is only just  beginning to be appreciated. Our current recommendations,  as natural health therapists come from an understanding of human brain and body chemistry>

Typical supplements are listed below however, you should talk with your a professional healthcare provider before adding botanicals to your health regimen and  ask about the right dosage for you.

  • B-Vitamins  are necessary for the production and regulation of neurotransmitters  connected to depression. B-vitamin deficiency has been linked with mood  disorders, including depression and anxiety. Elderly patients are at  particular risk of B12 deficiency; and women on oral contraception or  estrogen replacement are at increased risk of B6 deficiency.
  • Folic acid is low in one-third of depressed adults.  Depression is also the most common symptom of folate deficiency. If  there is a deficiency, some depression medications (i.e. SSRIs) are not  as effective. Take 0.8-1 mg daily of folic acid.
  • Omega-3 fatty  acid deficiency, or an imbalance with omega-6, correlates with an  increased rate of both anxiety and depression. Dosage range has not yet  been clearly established, but studies have shown improvement in  depressive symptoms with as little as 1 gram, or as much as 6 grams a  day.
  • St. John’s wort is a plant that impacts  several neurochemical pathways in the brain and has been shown in  numerous studies of mild to moderate depression to be as effective as  conventional antidepressants.  St. John’s wort should not be used in  combination with SSRIs, and may interfere with oral contraceptives.
  • S-Adenosylmethionine  (SAMe) is a naturally occurring chemical substance intimately involved  in the production, regulation, and action of many brain  neurotransmitters. Multiple studies have found SAMe to be a safe and  effective natural antidepressant that starts working faster than  pharmaceutical antidepressants. It is best to use this with the guidance of a professional,  especially if combined with an antidepressant. It should not be used in  bipolar disorders, like manic depression.
  • Kava has been found to help with anxiety disorder.
  • Valerian is another botanical that has been  used as a calmative agent and tranquilizer, especially for  sleep disturbances. It has been tried in several small studies on  anxiety, in combination with either passionflower or St. John’s wort,  with good results.

Holisitc Health Therapists
At Sheena Hendon Health we use diet, exercise, natural botanicals and supplements, mind/body  practice fot those preferring natural  approaches. Treatment can be carried out alongside antidepressants and psychotherapy

Traditional Chinese Medicine

Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners work with an individual to optimize their nutrition, activity, and internal energetic balance, using herbs, acupuncture, movement practices (Qi Gong and Tai Chi), massage, and other techniques.

How to Use Integrative Therapies and Healing Practices in Depression and Anxiety

When  suffering from depression or anxiety, it is critical to have a working  relationship with a provider, or team of providers, who can help you  navigate through this time. The provider can be a conventional  physician, therapist, or other professional who is philosophically  aligned with your perspective on your disease.

It is important to  try to understand what is causing depression or anxiety. A depression  triggered by a major trauma or loss may be a very appropriate response  to a situation and should not be suppressed, although the individual may  require supportive coaching or therapy to work through the situation.  However, these responses should not be prolonged and should be examined  after six months. Worry and anxiety can also be triggered by an  underlying or unresolved situation or issue and may signal a need to  explore where you need to make changes.

Depressions that do not  appear to have a “cause” in everyday life may originate from a  biochemical imbalance, but may also be part of a larger pattern of  imbalance. A combination of self-care practices (e.g. exercise, healthy  diet, alcohol abstinence, self-reflection, mind/body skills),  psychotherapy of some type, and conventional medical supervision (with  optional medication) seems to be the safest and most optimal scenario.

If  any oral natural supplements (other than homeopathy) are used in  combination with conventional prescription medications, it is critical  for both the prescriber and the pharmacist to be aware of the  supplements being taken.

If there are any thoughts of or plans for  suicide, a conventional therapist, psychiatrist, or physician must be  involved immediately, even if that necessitates the use of emergency  medicine services. If someone doesn’t willingly request help, the family  or other supportive members of that person’s social sphere may need to  intervene and engage services.

The risk for suicide often  increases after early improvement induced by either medications or  supplements, as the individual finds more energy and a sense of  self-control. Support during this time of treatment is critical.

The Sheena Hendon Health Anxiety and Depression Programme

Our  Anxiety and Depression Programme will assist  you in reducing or eliminating your  symptoms – physically and mentally. We aim to address the  underlying causes and risk factors of yur mental health issues.

The first appointment is 45 minutes to 1 hour in duration and is for Fact Finding -ffinding out the underlying physical, environmental and mental causes  of your issues. This includes you completing a generic  health and a mood and stress questionnaire before you come in. Once we have discussed your  individual  requirements we will do relevant tests in the practise such  as zinc tally test, urinary indicans testing, PH test, ABO blood type  testing,  blood sugar levels and blood pressure, weight and body  composition. We  may also arrange external tests such as blood tests, DNA Gene Testing and allergy and intolerance hair tests.

Note:  depending  on the severity of your symptoms and the tests we need to  do, we may  need to arrange a separate half hour testing consultation. 

The second appointment typically 30 minutes long is for your Report of Findings where I will explain in detail what is going on for you and outline the Anxiety and Depression treatment plan and protocol.

Contact Sheena Hendon to book in for your Anxiety & Depression Programme today