lovelight holistic health clinic

Depression is a label often applied by doctors and used by many people to refer to a wide variety of conditions ranging from feeling 'out of sorts', tired, sluggish, unhappy or just generally not feeling the best right up to feeling desperate and suicidal. Frequently the doctor diagnosing the 'problem' will then prescribe anti-depressant drugs which are supposed to relieve the symptoms. Any recurrence of the symptoms usually results in an increase of the dosage, as may the occurrence of side effects. In New Zealand (population about 4 million) in 2007, 700,000 prescriptions costing NZ$28 million were written for anti-depressants, so it is a big money-spinner for the drug companies.

In the New Zealand Herald morning newspaper on 27 Feb 2008 the headline read "Anti-depression drugs don't work - study". In Bay of Plenty Times evening newspaper on the same day the headlines read "Depressed patients urged to continue medication". So these leave a few questions to be answered:

What is depression?
How can it be prevented and treated?
What happens if I stop taking anti-depressant drugs and how can I safely wean myself off them?

What is depression?

Depression can range from being a 'down' feeling where you lack energy, ambition and enthusiasm for life right up to feelings of desperation, complete loss of direction and the contemplation or attempt of suicide. The majority of cases are at the lower end of the spectrum and may be related to over-tiredness, stress, poor weather conditions, over-work or any one or more other environmental, dietary, behavioral, hormonal or nutritional causes. I know of a case where a person arrived home tired after travelling overseas and was put onto Aropax (Paxil) for depression because she felt tired! When she returned to the doctor complaining of unpleasant side effects, the doctor simply doubled the dosage. At the more severe end of the spectrum the causes are likely to be that same but probably in combination rather than singly.

How can depression be prevented and treated?

Generally, a doctor will prescribe an SSRI anti-depressant drug to treat your depression. These can have side effects (Google "SSRI side effects") and may be difficult to wean yourself off (see below). There are, however, excellent ways of preventing and treating the symptoms of depression.

Freedom from depression correlates with excellent health. Therefore, whatever promotes health also reduces the possibility of depression. Excellent health is promoted by ensuring that your body has sufficient, but not an excess, of everything it requires to remain healthy. These requirements include, but are not limited to:

Healthy nutrition including protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals:
Ideally all these will be provided daily from garden-fresh, non-GE, organic foods, but if necessary obtained from reputable sources of fresh foods. Avoid highly processed foods which contain trans fats, additives (e.g. colour, flavour, preservatives) or have been cooked at high temperatures or in hot fats or oils. Include at least two litres of filtered (not distilled - it leaches minerals from your body) water per day drunk between meals - more if you drink coffee or alcohol which are diuretics (remove water from your body). Try not to drink between 20 minutes before and 2 hours after each main meal.

Healthy rest and sleep:
While the amount of sleep required varies between people, you should ensure that you have enough so that you can remain alert the next day. The quality of sleep is most important, a few hours of sound sleep being preferable to a longer period of restless sleep. Refer to Sleep disorders for more information regarding sleep. Rest is also important during the day, especially after meals when blood is required in the stomach for digestion rather than in the brain or muscles for work activities.

We have evolved on this planet and are well equipped to deal with exposure to sunlight, which is essential for the production of vitamin D and the regulation of seratonin in our bodies. Seratonin is called the happy chemical because it causes us to have a more cheerful and positive outlook on life, which is why you tend to exhibit more symptoms of depression during winter and when you have been inside for lengthy periods. (It is interesting to note that modern anti-depressants are SSRIs - selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors - which artificially affects the levels and use of serotonin.) Remember to avoid sunburn by keeping your periods of exposure to the sun short. It is preferable not to use sunscreen as that can severely reduce the effective sunlight that is available to the body and may also contain many carcinogenic (cancer promoting) chemicals.

Our bodies were designed to move and to maintain them in excellent health we need to use our bodies as they were intended. This does not mean that we need to run marathons or indulge in competitive or strenuous sport, but it does mean that we should experience sustained vigorous movement appropriate to our level of fitness and our age at least every second day. Exercise should preferably be low impact, to prevent damage to joints, and should include aerobic and resistance training to maintain aerobic fitness and muscle mass.

Healthy thoughts:
To a large extent, we are what we think. Thus if you are continuallly thinking negative thoughts we will become a negative person and will have negative feelings. On the other hand, positive thoughts will generate positive feelings. Only you can control your thoughts; only you can control how you feel. So if you find that you are feeling low, unhappy, 'depressed', simply notice that feeling, then choose how you would like to feel, and then feel that way. Only you, not your environment, not other people, not what happens to you, only you control how you feel. So why not choose to feel happy now? A good way to start is with a smile.

Emotional cleansing:
During your life you collect huge amounts of emotional baggage and beliefs which prevent you from getting the 'juice' of life. They weigh you down, slow you down, make you doubt yourself and generally cause you to feel, well, depressed. This emotional baggage and the beliefs which no longer serve you can be easily cleared using Journey and ThetaHealing™ processes, either with a personal consultation or by distance healing. Why not contact me now to see how I can help you to avoid the depression trap or to remove the causes of your depression, allowing you to experience your new life free from depression and anti-depressant drugs.

If you do become 'run down' and have feelings which could be diagnosed as depression, it is a signal from your body that you need to take time for yourself and look closely at how you are managing the above factors in your life. Before seeing a doctor, try taking a few days off work, going to bed earlier and sleeping later, drinking more filtered water, spending some time in the sunlight, engaging in appropriate exercise, taking some effective multivitamin and multimineral supplements, and contacting me to find out how you can cleanse your body from the causes of depression. It is very likely that these measures will be far more effective, far healthier and far cheaper than any drugs that your doctor could prescribe. It also has the huge advantage that you are taking control of your health and healing instead of handing that over to someone else.

What happens if I stop taking anti-depression drugs and how can I safely wean myself off them?

If you are taking SSRI drugs, keep taking them because any 'cold turkey' removal of these drugs can cause major side effects (Google "Stopping SSRIs"). The method I have used to remove people from SSRIs is to reduce the number of tablets taken very gradually - half a tablet per week every second day. So if you are taking, for example, 2 tablets daily, you would take 2 tablets on day 1, 1.5 tablets on day 2, 2 tablets on day 3, 1.5 on day 4 etc for the first week. Second week you would reduce the other day to 1.5 tablets, so you would take 1.5 tablets each day in week 2. Week 3 you would alternate days 1.5 and 1 tablets, week 4 would be all 1 tablet per day, week 5 would alternate 1 and 0.5 tablets per day, week 6 would be all 0.5 tablets per day, week 7 would be 0.5 tablets every alternate day and by week 8 you have ceased taking tablets at all.

Additional support can be obtained during this period by taking herbal destress tablets or calming herbal remedies. In New Zealand, Kawakawa (Macropiper excelsum) leaves made into tea are very useful. Other members of the Piperacea family are also useful, as are many other species - see your local herbalist for advice. These herbal supports can continue after you have completed your withdrawal from your anti-depressant drugs or you can stop taking them if you wish.
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