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Maybe one of us could have saved Heath Ledger--Part 2

Posted May 13 2008 5:32pm

This is the second of four articles that will go over the natural treatment of insomnia, anxiety and depression. We are not suggesting that anyone discontinue their drugs—especially if they are working. But since drugs address symptoms and not the cause of a problem, we can use the information provided by a successful drug therapy to learn about source of the problem. Using natural health care we can then fix the infrastructure of the body and with a little luck, alleviate the symptom.

Last time we talked about the neurotransmitters, serotonin and norepinepherine. Lifestyle and core health issues have a lot to do with depression. Smoking, drinking alcohol, drug abuse, prescription medications, nutritional deficiencies and even caffeine use can contribute to depression. Eating a lot of refined food is also a major contributing factor. One of the easiest and often most effective treatments for depression is to exercise and to eat properly.

The brain is like the heart, lung, liver, intestine or any other organ. It needs nutrients to ensure proper function. The function of enzymes and neurotransmitters and the integrity of the nerve tissue are all affected by nutrition. When there is chemical imbalance through poor nutrition or any other reason, the brain can be adversely affected; this can manifest itself as depression or anxiety.

This is not to say that past trauma and other issues addressed by psychologists are not valid, but good biochemical health will make the task of ending depression or anxiety easier. Problems like poor adrenal function, poor thyroid function and even food allergies can all cause depression or anxiety. Hypoglycemia, vitamin deficiency and poor diet are also a source of problems.

Of course there are many causes of depression. Hypothyroidism, poor adrenal function, vitamin deficiency, hypoglycemia, poor diet or heavy metal toxicity can all cause depression. Issues addressed by psychologists, past emotional trauma and other non-chemical causes of depression also have to be considered.

Common Causes of Depression and Anxiety

· Dysbiosis: Overgrowth of flora that do not belong in the bowel can cause depression and anxiety. Yeast and other pathologic organisms can degrade tyrosine and tryptophan, robbing the body of the precursors for serotonin and norepinephrine. They can increase ammonia, reducing gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) production.

· Heavy Metal Toxicity: Heavy metals can directly affect the nervous system. They can also interfere with energy production by decreasing adenosine triphosphate (ATP) output from the Krebs cycle. Ultimately they can reduce GABA production.

· Hypothyroidism: Low thyroid function can cause lack of sex drive, depression, loss of motivation and fatigue. Laboratory test results may be normal, but the basal body temperature will be low (it should normally be between 97.8°F and 98.2°F).

· Hypoglycemia: Fatigue and depression are common symptoms of hypoglycemia.

· Allergies: Depression, anxiety and fatigue can all be manifestations of hidden food allergies. Check out the book by William Philpott, MD, Brain Allergies: The Psychonutrient Connection Including Brain Allergies Today (Keats Publishing, 1988).

· Poor Adrenal Function.

· Hypochlorhydria: Not producing enough stomach acid can result in poor absorption of essential amino acids, B12 and minerals. Depression is one possible outcome of this. Hypochlorhydria can also cause dysbiosis, another cause of depression.

· Psychological Trauma: Some patients need counseling or the services of a therapist. Nutrition can help support the efforts of a therapist.

· Poor diet: This should probably be listed first. The average American eats 150 pounds of sugar and ten pounds of chemical food additives every year. Most Americans get half of their calories from refined carbohydrates. We consume hydrogenated oils at an alarming rate. The resulting vitamin deficiencies and detrimental effects on all organs and systems of the body are destroying health and mental well-being.

Basic Lifestyle Changes

The brain is like the heart, lung, liver, intestine or any other organ. It needs nutrients to ensure proper function. The function of enzymes and neurotransmitters and the integrity of the nerve tissue are all affected by nutrition. When there is chemical imbalance through poor nutrition or any other reason, the brain can be adversely affected; this can manifest itself as depression or anxiety.

· Avoid sugar and refined carbohydrates: These deplete B vitamins and B vitamin deficiency can cause anxiety and depression. They can also create blood sugar swings that can affect mood. A highly refined diet can affect the bowel flora (dysbiosis) and cause important precursors for neurotransmitters (the building blocks for necessary brain chemicals) to be destroyed. This is a serious cause of fatigue and depression.

· Don’t skip meals: Not eating can cause hypoglycemia, which can cause depression.

· Exercise (according to your doctor’s recommendations): In most instances it is best to do simple aerobic exercise (you should be able to hold a normal conversation during the activity).

· Find and eliminate any hidden food sensitivities: You may want to read a book by William Philpott, MD, entitled Brain Allergies: The Psychonutrient Connection Including Brain Allergies Today (Keats Publishing, 1988). It will give you an idea of how food allergies can affect your state of mind.

· Avoid stimulants like coffee and depressants like alcohol.

· Eat plenty of fresh vegetables and raw foods.

· Avoid hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oil.

· Avoid chemical additives.

If you think of depression as a health and biochemical issue, you can adjust your lifestyle and enjoy a good result. This is not treating depression; it is balancing the body’s health. With a little luck, a healthy body and brain are not depressed. The beauty of this approach is that there are no side-effects. If it doesn’t work the way that you want to, you can always go the medical route.

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