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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