S.A.D. and Depression
When Natural Support Helps
Depression can be debilitating any time of year. Unfortunately, most people that cope with some level of depression throughout the calendar year seem to suffer beyond their ability to cope near and after the holiday season. Because this time of year is associated with much less light hours in the day, it has been called Seasonal Affect Disorder, or S.A.D. There are many causes of depression. Sometimes a person suffers from a combination of causes.
Whether circumstances, light or both… genetic brain chemistry imbalances, trauma or other causes… every kind of depression has hope of “better.”
As Naturopathic Doctors we are trained to employ the least invasive therapies first, and reserve the more potent interventions as a last resort. This gives the body's natural ability to heal itself every chance, and often allows a patient to avoid unnecessary and undesirable side effects. As a modern Naturopathic Doctor, I believe that natural as well as conventional therapies are simply tools in our quest to assist a patient in achieving their greatest state of health. Neither is a religion or a political belief. The tools made by nature stand along side the tools of our modern laboratories. Each has a place. Every patient is an individual and must be treated as such. For some people natural intervention is the more appropriate strategy. For others, conventional medications will best serve their needs. For still, others… a carefully planned combination of both is where balance is best achieved.
Conditions, leading to depression, that are best supported through nutritional supplements include: Chronic adrenal fatigue, blood sugar imbalances, brain chemistry imbalances, chronic pain, anemia, poor digestion or chronic allergies, fibromyalgia, thyroid disorders, poor diet, and lack of exercise.
Natural support for depression includes light therapy, exercise, a whole foods organic diet, eliminating sugar and alcohol, drinking plenty of water and some form of daily prayer, meditation, yoga, qi gong or other mindfulness practice.
Nutritional supplements that can help include: 5 HTP, L-Theanine, Magnolia, and Ashwaganda to name a few. I encourage seeking professional guidance when using nutritional supplements for depression and S.A.D. Do not mix nutritional supplements and mood-related medications without professional guidance. An ounce of prevention, as they say.
Understanding depression is a complicated endeavor. I would encourage anyone facing depression to seek professional support. Sometimes that support is a team. My patients might have a Psychiatrist for medication prescribing, a Psychotherapist for emotional and cognitive therapy and me, a Naturopathic Doctor for targeted, safe and effective nutritional supplement support, along with lifestyle guidance.
There are as many ways to support and treat depression as there are causes of depression. Every person is an individual. As a Naturopathic Doctor, I believe that every patient deserves to be supported on an individual basis. No two people are exactly alike, therefore supportive strategies must be designed for each person depending on their situation. This takes time and attention to detail. Seek a provider that has the time to pay attention to the details of your case. Be discriminating. You deserve it.
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