An estimated 38 million Americans suffer from chronic anxiety or depression and one out of eight adults are currently taking antidepressant medications...depressing statistics indeed!! While medications can offer support and benefit during certain circumstances, there are many people that do not respond well to drug treatment alone. Side effects can outweigh the benefits of the medication, and tolerances and sensitivities can develop to the drugs. And more importantly, most of the time depression and anxiety are not due to a biochemical imbalance, but are the result of a deeper unresolved personal or spiritual issue. From my experience working with numerous anxiety-ridden patients, I now firmly believe that Chinese medicine, nutritional supplementation, meditation, and yoga can offer tremendously helpful support in healing the root causes of this epidemic. This natural approach is much more comprehensive and much less invasive to the brain than using SSRI medications. It accounts for not only biochemical factors, but also energetic, nutritional, and spiritual influences as well.
In addition to weekly acupuncture treatments and supplementation with herbs and minerals, nutritional changes are very crucial for most people suffering from depression and anxiety. One of the most important considerations is to maintain stable blood sugar throughout the day. The majority of anxiety patients suffer from hypoglycemia. They tend to eat many refined carbohydrates and drink coffee to start the day, only to experience the typical 'crash' around 2-4pm. To keep the blood sugar stable, begin the day with a high protein breakfast such as eggs, turkey bacon, whole oats, or smoothies with whey or goat protein in them. Eat a low glycemic snack every 2-3 hours- something with healthy fats (like nuts), or protein (like cheese or yogurt). Avoid coffee and other forms of caffeine as your source of "energy". It can also be revealing to avoid allergenic foods such as wheat, gluten, pasteurized dairy, and refined sugar for one month to see if the mental symptoms significantly improve.
Many people also find meditation and yoga to be their most powerful allies in healing anxiety and depression. With regular practice of various breathing techniques and yoga postures, people gain more control over their anxiety and understand it doesn’t have to run their life anymore. These practices can be direct gateways to the rest and restore mode of the nervous system. On a deeper level, they can help us forge a spiritual connection with our lives that instills an unshakable sense of trust and safety in the workings of the universe.
From a holistic perspective, our symptoms are never random. There is always a reason why they creep up. In the case of anxiety and depression, it is helpful to disengage from our personal feelings about it and look at the bigger picture. What is it telling us about ourselves? Is it a warning sign that something is amiss and needs to be acknowledged or changed? I have found that every time I am experiencing the most intense emotions, it is usually time to make the larger changes in my life. When you are anxious and depressed, it may be a good time to enlist the help of a life-coach or other professional before you call your psychiatrist. Maybe a small-or big tweak in your personal or professional life is all that is needed to improve your emotional health.
Your partner in health,