Treating Major Depressive Disorder

Major Depressive Disorder affects over 7% of the population in the U.S. Depression does not discriminate; It affects people of all socioeconomic statuses, cultures, religions, and genders. Depression can hold a person back from living a happy, healthy, successful life. Unfortunately, depression’s insidious nature prevents many from even knowing that they are suffering from it. Many people come to me complaining of a lack of ambition, lack of motivation, and lack of energy. They may describe themselves as “lazy” or an “underachiever,” but these are often my clues to consider that they may be experiencing depression. I talk extensively about depression and the treatment options available on my Youtube, which you can watch here. 

 Depression has a spectrum.

Many clients are shocked that they fit the diagnosis. Depression can be treated with the help of natural medicine, talk therapy, and sometimes pharmaceutical medicine. 

Symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Apathy
  • Loss of pleasure in activities
  • Feeling guilty all the time
  • Feelings of loneliness
  • Self-Isolation
  • Extreme weight gain or loss
  • Change in sleeping patterns
  • Feeling sad often
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Feeling angry or irritated often
  • Fatigue
  • Lack of Motivation
  • Lack of concentration
  • Suicidal Ideation

When healthy, our brains maintain a balance of hormones for our bodies to sustain wellbeing. When out of balance, it’s not uncommon for depression to arise. Serotonin is one of our bodies’ “feel good” hormones. It makes us feel happiness, energy, and pleasure; allows us to carry out healthy sleep patterns; helps us concentrate; and allows us to feel a sense of peace. In many cases, taking measures to balance one’s serotonin levels can dramatically improve or cure depression. However, if depression has led to thoughts of hurting oneself or others, professional help should be sought immediately.

Talk Therapy

Talk Therapy can help teach ways of coping, change thinking, boost self-awareness, lighten the burden of things kept inside, and offer a space to explore stressors and track progress. But remember: each therapist has a different approach. Try as many therapists as necessary until you find the one that gives you what you need to facilitate healing.

Up your vitamin D intake

Vitamin D helps with the production of Serotonin. While humans naturally receive Vitamin D from the sun’s UV rays, many don’t have lives conducive to spending great lengths of time outdoors (especially year-round). Vitamin D supplements are available at most pharmacies, and UV desk lamps are available via major online retailers.

Exercise.  

Research shows that exercise is the most impactful natural medicine for depression. If you can commit to 40+ minutes of cardio for 4+ days per week, you will create a significant amount of Serotonin, and many feel a noticeable difference after just a few weeks. 

Cut your caffeine intake.

 Dopamine helps us to feel motivation, excitement, and pleasure. Caffeine gives a dopamine surge but then causes dopamine levels to plummet. During that plummet, you feel a noticeable dip in energy and mood. Sometimes, people feel more “down” and depleted than where they began because of the sudden drop. Caffeine also leaches Serotonin from the brain. If you decide to take this step to cut caffeine, I recommend slowly weaning off by lessening your daily intake over 2-4 weeks. Be gentle with yourself.

Eat healthy serotonin-boosting foods. Serotonin forms in your gut, and a happy belly increases the likelihood of proper serotonin production. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, and take a probiotic if necessary.

Serotonin boosting foods include:

  • Apples
  • Turkey
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pineapples
  • Salmon
  • Legumes
  • Cacao 
  • Almonds
  • Whole grains
  • Black raspberries
  • Saffron
  • Turmeric.

You may also consider serotonin-boosting supplements such as SAM-e, 5-HTP, Vitamin D, and Fish Oil.

Medication 

While many people see improvement with talk therapy or natural ways to treat depression, every person and everybody is different. Different methods work for different people. If natural medicine does not work – please see a psychiatrist or talk to your primary care physician about getting pharmaceutical support. I have seen antidepressants work miracles, and there is no shame in taking medicine to get brain health back on track. When some clients say, “…but I don’t want to become dependent on medicine,” I always counter, “Do you consider it a dependency when a diabetic person needs insulin?” If you need pharmaceutical support – get it.  

Don’t wait to treat your depression. Whether with natural medicine or otherwise, let nothing stop you from being your best self and living your best life. You can heal!

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