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