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Natural Treatments for Depression and Anxiety

When it comes to treating depression, anxiety, or other mood disorders, the best course of action is to address the underlying cause. You may just want to take a pill that covers up your symptoms. But if you prefer to get to the root of the problem and treat it naturally, there are many options that are safe, effective, and affordable.

HOMEOPATHIC MEDICINE

For people who are interested in treating the underlying cause of their mood disorder, one of the safest and most effective treatments is classical homeopathic medicine. Homeopathy is a natural form of medicine which stimulates your body’s innate ability to heal. Rather than suppressing your symptoms like most conventional treatments, homeopathy helps you heal from the inside out, working towards a cure of your illness.

Your body has built-in mechanisms that allow you to heal. This is evident in cases of a cold or a small cut; your body mounts a reaction to the virus or the skin injury and initiates a healing response. Homeopathic medicine works with these innate mechanisms to restore health by speeding up the natural process of the healing. In the case of anxiety or depression, your body has the ability to correct underlying hormonal or chemical imbalances so that mood can be normalized; sometimes, however, we can forget how to heal. Homeopathic medicine reminds your body of how it can heal naturally by giving it a boost in the right direction to promote hormonal and chemical balance.

Homeopathic remedies are made from naturally occurring substances such as plants and minerals. There are hundreds of well-known homeopathic remedies, each made from its own natural substance. During the preparation process, the original substance is made into a solution which is diluted multiple times. For commercial production, small sublingual pills are coated with these highly diluted solutions to give them medicinal value as homeopathic remedies.

Classical homeopathic medicine differs from most over-the-counter homeopathic formulas in that the over-the-counter preparations contain multiple homeopathic remedies, and classical homeopathic treatment uses a single remedy for a specific set of symptoms. The classical method is designed to treat each person as an individual, and usually yields better results.

There are no side effects from homeopathic remedies, so it is the ideal choice for anyone who is looking for alternatives to medications with unwanted adverse effects. This makes it very valuable for treating children or adolescents with behavioral or mood disorders, especially because of the increased risk of suicide associated with conventional anti-depressant medications in adolescents.

Homeopathy is also an excellent choice for women during pregnancy or lactation, and is often very effective for women with post-partum depression. Another advantage is that homeopathic medicine does not interact with conventional medications, so it is possible to begin homeopathic treatment while still taking other prescriptions.

Most people see positive results from homeopathic medicine within 2-4 weeks of treatment. Because homeopathy corrects the underlying cause rather than just treating the symptoms of anxiety or depression, you are likely to start feeling like yourself again without needing to be on medications for an extended period of time.

ACUPUNCTURE

Acupuncture is the virtually painless insertion of ultra-thin sterile needles at specific points in the skin with the intention of balancing the body’s energy and reducing pain. This method of treatment is based on a 3000 year old system of medicine from China, and by combining this ancient wisdom with modern techniques, acupuncture practitioners help patients to achieve an increased state of health.

Acupuncture can treat a variety of disorders, such as:

  • Chronic pain (headaches, back pain, etc.)
  • Psychiatric disorders (depression, anxiety, etc.)
  • Respiratory conditions (asthma, allergies, etc.)
  • Cardiovascular conditions (high blood pressure, etc.)
  • Gastrointestinal disorders (nausea, constipation, etc.)
  • Reproductive disorders (infertility, menopausal symptoms, etc.)
  • Skin conditions (eczema, hives, etc.)

Most people feel a difference after a single treatment, but several treatments may be needed in order to reach optimal health. Many patients say that their symptoms improve more and more with each treatment, so that after each successive session the positive results lasted longer. Often patients will come in for a treatment once per week for a few weeks, and then taper the sessions out to once per month, and then as needed. Over time, typically fewer acupuncture sessions are needed to maintain results.

People respond differently to acupuncture, but most people report a mild electric, aching, or tingling feeling around the needle insertion, which subsides after a few moments. Some people do not feel the needle insertion at all, because the needles are so thin.

For treating depression, anxiety, or other mood disorders, there are specific acupuncture points that can be very helpful. Your doctor will check your pulse, listen to your symptoms, and make some physical observations to design the perfect acupuncture protocol for you as an individual. One of the best things about using acupuncture to treat anxiety or depression is that the treatments can also benefit other aspects of your health, such as the conditions listed above.

With acupuncture, there are no pills to take, so you do not have to worry about remembering to take medications. If you are on medications for depression or anxiety and want to stay on these prescriptions, or taper off the medications over time, we can get you started on an acupuncture program without worrying about any drug interactions. Acupuncture can also be safely combined with other natural therapies for faster results; homeopathic medicine, nutritional supplements, and herbal medicine can be added to your treatment plan to speed up your improvement.

BOTANICAL MEDICINE (HERBAL MEDICINE)

Botanical (herbal) medicine is ideal for anyone who wants a natural alternative to taking medications with harmful or unwanted side effects. There are a wide variety of medicinal plants, and we can prescribe these herbs to you as either capsules, liquid extracts, or teas.

It is important to check with a naturopathic physician before beginning any new botanical prescription, because some herbs have strong medicinal properties, and may interact with other medications. There are also several different options regarding the strength and frequency of dosing medicinal herbs. By talking with a doctor who specializes in natural medicine and knows about not only how to prescribe botanical medicine, but also how to determine drug-herb interactions, you will be sure to get the best and safest results.

Botanical medicine can be very effective for treating a variety of conditions, and may be used in combination with other therapies in order to restore health. Certain herbs can decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety, such as:  St. John’s Wort.  Passion Floweria,  Lemon Balm,  Kava,  Siberian ginseng and many other herbs.

St. John’s Wort can be helpful for symptoms of depression. This herb works by prolonging the time that serotonin is in the blood, thereby allowing serotonin to work longer. St. John’s Wort also slows down the reuptake of dopamine and GABA from the synaptic cleft. This can result in feelings of happiness, relaxation, and better energy.

Passion Flower, Lemon Balm, and Kava are often helpful for anxiety, because they promote mental tranquility and reduce restlessness. These herbs can also be used to help with insomnia.Siberian ginseng can help to improve energy, promote better physical endurance, and also can reduce the negative effects of stress. This type of ginseng is energizing, but somewhat less stimulating than some of the other types of ginseng available.

Before you try any of these herbs, check with a naturopathic doctor to determine the ideal dose, or whether one herb or a combination of herbs would be best for your symptoms. Botanical medicine works well in combination with other natural therapies, and many of the best formulas for depression and anxiety contain both vitamins, amino acids, and herbs, for optimal mood support.

NEUROTRANSMITTER SUPPORT

While medications can improve symptoms by increasing the amount of serotonin or dopamine between two nerve cells, we can supplement specific vitamins, amino acids, and herbs to actually increase or decrease your body’s own production of neurotransmitters. Amino acids are the building blocks for proteins in your body, and neurotransmitters are made from certain amino acids, with the help of vitamins and minerals. For example, L-tyrosine is used in the body to make dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. Certain herbs can be used to improve neurotransmitter function as well.

Your cells have the ability to make serotonin, dopamine, epinephrine, and other neurotransmitters. When you are deficient in certain nutrients, it is harder to make enough of the neurotransmitters you need to feel happy and relaxed. You can take all the Prozac you want and still have symptoms because your body simply is not making enough serotonin in the first place. Rather than tricking your body into thinking it has enough serotonin to make you feel happy, neurotransmitter support supplements are designed to give your body the vitamins and amino acids it needs to make more of its own serotonin. The same is true for the other neurotransmitters.

With neurotransmitter testing results, your naturopathic doctor can determine which supplements will be best for promoting an improvement in your mood. These supplements are natural, non-addictive, and work with your body instead of covering up symptoms. The best results are typically seen when combining neurotransmitter support supplements with homeopathic medicine, to bring your body chemistry and your mood back into balance.

NUTRITION FOR IMPROVED MOOD

Naturopathic physicians are experts in helping you understand how your food can be your medicine. We will offer you healthy options that fit your lifestyle, and work with you to create the perfect plan for you. We may also prescribe nutritional supplements in addition to healthy lifestyle changes.

People with depression or anxiety are often deficient in certain nutrients. B vitamins are used in your body during the production of neurotransmitters and thus are very important for maintaining a healthy mood. Vitamin C is used in high levels by the adrenal glands to manage stress. Calcium and magnesium are essential for reducing muscle fatigue, and helping you get a restful night’s sleep. People with depression, anxiety, or insomnia will use extra B vitamins, vitamin C, calcium, and magnesium, so supplementing higher doses of these nutrients may be an essential part of your treatment. If you become deficient in any of these nutrients as a result of stress or poor nutrition, you can develop new symptoms of depression or anxiety.

We can give you high-dose vitamins and minerals in a capsule form to replenish your nutrient status. For instant results, intravenous (IV) nutrient therapy can be offered as well. IV therapy provides your cells with an immediate supply of the energy-boosting vitamins and minerals you need to enhance your immune system and improve overall health. Intramuscular injections of vitamin B12 can give you an energy boost as well, and help to stabilize your mood. Our Myer’s IV (Vitamin & Mineral IV) provides you with all of the B vitamins you need for energy, and vitamin C for stress reduction and immune health, plus calcium and magnesium for your mind, heart, muscles, and bones.

These injection therapies are performed by our naturopathic doctors. The B12 injection only takes 5-10 seconds, and the nutrient IV typically takes 20-30 minutes. B12 injections and IV nutrient therapy can be performed weekly for 3-5 weeks to boost your energy and improve your mood, and then once per month, or every few months, based on the severity of your symptoms. The more often these treatments are done, the faster you are likely to improve.

Nutritional therapy works best when combined with homeopathic medicine, neurotransmitter support, herbs, and/or acupuncture. Your doctor will help you decide on the best treatment plan for you.

This article has been contributed by a practicing Naturopathic Physician. East Valley Naturopathic Doctors is a multi-disciplinary group of alternative physicians who combine the best of conventional medicine with natural medicine for the benefit of the patient. Alternative treatments are offered for Arthritis, Attention Deficit, Autism, Cancer, Cholesterol, Depression, Diabetes, Environmental Toxicity, Fatigue, Heavy Metals, Hormone Replacement, Hypertension, Pain, Prostate, Weight Loss, Women’s Health and Many Others. East Valley Naturopathic Doctors is located in Mesa, Arizona, and also serves Gilbert, Chandler, Tempe, Scottsdale, Apache Junction, and Queen Creek.

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