Alternative Treatments for Anxiety and Depression
Suffering from anxiety and depression is disruptive to one’s physical health, as well as to their relationships and work life. The most common conventional treatment, which focuses on the symptoms, is to prescribe SSRI’s for depression and benzodiazepines for anxiety and its related symptom of insomnia. Unfortunately, benzodiazepines and anti-depressants further the brain imbalance of neurotransmitters…the medications actually add another layer to the disease.
Sympathetic vs Parasympathetic Nervous System
There are two major pathways of our central nervous system that dictates what systems are prioritized. When we are in parasympathetic mode, we are calm. Digestion is an example of dominant organ system during parasympathetic mode, so is the immune system. If we are in sympathetic mode, the nervous system is calling for action. So organ systems such as our cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems are prioritized in survival mode. This mode is often referred to “running from the bear” pathway. When our nervous system is geered up into sympathetic mode, we feel anxious, on fire, ready to take action. This elevated nervous system activity is appropriate when there is a real threat that calls for immediate action, but not when the threat is imagined. A chronic imbalance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic pathways leads to a constant feeling of over excitement and fear.
What is causing my anxiety and depression?
Causes can be physiological, behavioral, mental/emotional, genetic and a combination of more than one. Some have a genetic propensity and it takes an environmental or emotional trigger to express the latent predisposition into actual symptoms.
1. Lifestyle – how much of your daily life is stimulating to the brain? (coffee, sugar, sugar substitutes, inflammatory foods, TV, technology, arguments, music)
2. Neurotransmitters – Serotonin and GABA are calming neurotransmitters that give us a feeling of tranquility. Glutamate, Adrenaline, Dopamine and Norepinephrine are known excititory brain chemicals. The levels of neurotransmitters and their metabolites can be measured through the urine. Proper testing of these mood chemicals guides the clinician into a more scientific approach in treatments.
3. Digestive Health – Imbalances in the microbiome produce bacterial and fungal metabolites that cross the blood brain barrier. More and more research is validating the “Gut-Brain” connection and it is vital to treat this first in every case of mood imbalances.
4. Genetic pathways – DNA testing and gene therapy is a cutting edge modality to treat the underlying causes of oxidative stress. The presence of free radicals in the body consumes cellular energy. This may result in a deficiency of neurotransmitters. Oxidative stress has also been attributed to the overproduction of unwanted metabolites such as Glutamate which causes anxiety and insomnia.
5. Microbial infections – New research is showing a relationship between chronic low grade viral or bacterial infections and mood disorders. Viruses such as Epstein barr creates a chronic condition that results in immunodeficiency, chronic fatigue, brain fog, depression and skin outbreaks. Patients with autoimmune conditions may also suffer from low grade chronic infections that have not been diagnosed. Testing for certain antibodies may reveal the presence of a chronic low grade infection.
6. Mental outlook – According to Viktor Frankl in his book Man’s Search for Meaning, one’s attitude can make or break your day. Once the physical imbalances are treated, we offer ideas on how to cultivate a daily positive outlook on life.
Alternative Treatments for Anxiety and Depression
Acupuncture For Anxiety and Depression
Acupuncture meridians course through the nerve pathways that innervate the body. Acupuncture is well known and researched to activate the parasympathetic nervous system and balance the sympathetic nervous system.
Diet and Mood Disorders
All patients experiencing anxiety or depression will feel more clear and level headed on a clean diet. Inflammtion is a stress to the nervous system and foods such as sugar stimulate this process. An anti-inflammatory diet improves quality of sleep and clarity of mind. Depression and anxiety can be significantly diminished once the toxins clear and the mind rests.
Brain chemicals such as Serotonin and GABA are important to keep us calm, help us sleep and lift our mood. If these are deficient, we feel that “not all is well” resulting in feelings of anxiousness. We may not sleep or sleep too much. In traditional psychiatry, medications are prescribed to stabalize moods. However, it’s a trial and error in determining which medication the patient responds to. Neurotransmitters can be tested through a 24 hour urine test which shows deficiencies. Certain metabolites such as Glutamate can also be tested. Glutamate is an excitatory metabolite.
Genetic testing reveals neurotransmitter and their metabolite imbalances by looking at various pathways. Once the imbalance is discovered through genetic and neurotransmitter testing, the treatment is simple.
Mood Disorders and Chronic Infections
Recent research has shown that a gut microbiome can affect neurotransmitter and moods. How? Their metabolites in the gut travel up the vagus nerve and leak into the blood supply in the presense of a leaky gut. Once in circulation they may cross the blood brain barrier and alter metabolic pathways. Chronic low grade infections are more common than we think and go untreated in conventional medicine. Viruses such as HHV6 or Epstein bar and fungus such as Candida escape the immune system, leading to chronic symptoms such as fatigue, brain fog, digestive problems, and chronic skin conditions. Here at Naturopathic Clinic of Mesa, we utilize specialty labs will test for the presence of fungal or viral antibodies. Conventional and integrative treatments along with lifestyle changes are used to eliminate the chronic infection. Once the underlying culprit is eliminiated the body can move back into balance. So instead of treating the symptoms with psychiatric meds we correct the underlying imbalance.
Call 480-535-7868 to schedule your initial appointment or fill out the online request form for a complimentary 10 minute consult.