A commentary on depression support with natural methods

Serotonin pathway
The pathway to make serotonin from tryptophan, an amino acid

I frequently get this question, and the best way to address the same question is so that everyone can learn from the experience!  I will give an example of a scenario I hear frequently in practice in regards to anti-depressant supports.

Sample question:

“I am experiencing/have experienced depression for the last x years. The medications have been prescribed by my psychiatrist do help, however they have side-effects that I do not enjoy. What can I do in a natural way to eliminate my medication usage? 

My typical answer:

Firstly, getting yourself in a good mental state with the usage of medication is difficult as our neurochemistry is very different, so this a great place to be in!

Going off your medication is something that not everyone is able to achieve. There are several things to consider in medication-reduction:

Basic biochemical needs of the cortex

Our brain needs certain molecules to operate optimally.  There are multiple nutrients that, when deficient, are associated with an increased risk for the development of depression. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Zinc and copper
  • Magnesium
  • Essential fatty acids (omega-3)
  • Vitamin D
  • Folate and/or B12
  • Cholesterol

Often, in addition to these nutrients being deficient, there may be concurrent medical conditions that can affect the cortex. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Celiac disease
  • Food allergies
  • Amino acid deficiencies
  • Ineffective gastrointestinal absorption of nutrients
  • Heavy metal exposure
  • Infections
  • Trauma (physical and mental/emotional)

You can see that before considering medication reduction, making sure that the above are not occurring at the same time are incredibly important because the medication may be stabilizing your neurochemistry and taking it away at a time when your body is not equipped on its own is unsafe. Many people with depression are best served when taking supportive vitamins and nutrients at the same time as their medication. When and how this is appropriate depends on the medication you have been prescribed.

Also, your psychiatrist is a key part of your health care team. Including them in the weaning-off process in reducing medications is absolutely key in the process of assessment. Your health is best served when we all work as a team to improve how you feel.

To summarize, the brain needs a very gentle and reasonable approach. Medications and vitamins can be used together to help your cortex, however this is best done in a moderate way with everyone working together.

The next few posts will discuss some of the great benefits of vitamins for depression.

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