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Depression vs Antidepressant Drugs

Treating Depression Naturally without Pharmaceutical Drugs

1.  What your doctor hasn't told you about depression and antidepressants

2.  Treating depression naturally

3.  Web sites, books, help! for you and yours

While researching this newsletter I was overwhelmed by so much information on the subject of depression that it would be literally impossible to convey everything that is out there.  So I will attempt to hit the high points and send you to other web sites and books for more info..  Depression, according to Dr. James Balch ("Prescription for Nutritional Healing"), is a disorder involving the whole body including the nervous system, moods, thoughts, and behavior.  It has the potential to affect the way you eat, sleep, think, feel, and interact with the people around you.  It can affect you for days, weeks, months, or even years.  The symptoms of depression are many and varied including chronic fatigue, sleep disturbances, changes in appetite, headaches, backaches, digestive disorders, restlessness, irritability, anger, loss of interest or pleasure in activities previously enjoyed, and feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy.  If you can identify with many of these symptoms you have something in common with more than 18 million American adults (that's 9.5% of the population).  But before you run to the phone to set up an appointment with your doctor, let's take a look at the most common treatment doctor's prescribe for this disorder,  antidepressant medications.

There are three major classes of antidepressants: tricyclics such as Norpramin, MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors) such as Nardil, and SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) such as Prozac and Zoloft.  The most common treatment for depression is an SSRI.  Serotonin is a brain chemical which is closely linked to mood.  Brain chemicals, called neurotransmitters, regulate our behavior.  The neurotransmitters most commonly associated with mood are dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine.   SSRI's manipulate the way the body uses serotonin, in an effort to conserve serotonin stores in the body, thus optimizing its calming effects.  In the 1980's and 90's, antidepressants were considered a cure-all for the rapidly increasing incidence of depression.  Unfortunately, they don't work for a significant portion of the population (latest figures indicate a 70% failure rate) and have been  linked to suicide, violence, psychosis, abnormal bleeding and brain tumors.  Additionally, researchers have now discovered that insufficient serotonin may not be the only reason for depression.  Too much cortisol, a stress-related hormone, may also play a role. 

Dr. Balch ("Prescription for Nutritional Healing") indicates that depression may be triggered by tension, stress, a traumatic life event, chemical imbalances in the brain, thyroid disorders, upset stomach, headache, nutritional deficiencies, poor diet, the consumption of sugar, mononucleosis, lack of exercise, endometriosis, or any serious physical disorder.  He cites food allergies and hypoglycemia as the most common causes.  If depression is a secondary symptom of a more serious underlying problem, taking an antidepressant only serves to mask symptoms and create more dysfunction.  Prescription drugs DO NOT CURE ANYTHING!  They only treat symptoms and do not address the underlying cause of an illness.  Drugs such as Prozac, Luvox, Paxil, Effexor, Elavil, and Zoloft (just to name a few) cannot create neurotransmitters, but can only manipulate what is already available.  And if there is an underlying problem such as low thyroid function, female hormone imbalance, hypoglycemia, adrenal exhaustion, candidiasis, food allergies, inadequate nutrition, or any of a host of other ailments, it will not address those either. 

To make matters worse, according to the World Health Organization, these drugs ARE addictive and do produce withdrawal, contrary to what your doctor may have told you.  To learn the REAL facts about antidepressants and other mind altering drugs we suggest you visit  Dr. Peter Breggin is a psychiatrist and expert on the subject and has written these excellent references, "Your Drug May Be Your Problem" and "The Antidepressant Fact Book".  We also consider Dr. Ann Blake Tracy's, "Prozac, Panacea or Pandora" a must read.  The horror stories linked to this drug (and other antidepressants) will break your heart.  

If drugs are not the answer, what is?  The answer is as complex and multifaceted as the disorder itself.  We believe it is imperative that you initially try to establish the source of the depression, whether there is an underlying physical condition(s) present.  Engage the services of a natural practitioner who is willing to look at disorders of the endocrine system (hormone imbalance), food allergies, or chemical imbalance from a nutritional (not drug) standpoint.  Try tracking your depressive episodes, looking for a correlation between what you eat and how you feel.  According to Dr. Balch, most depressed people are allergic to something.  Analyze your life, looking for emotional and mental reasons, problems that can be resolved by changing your outlook, relationships, or approach to life's challenges.  Often the physical and emotional issues are intertwined.  Eastern healing philosophies have long accepted that nothing is purely physical or purely mental/emotional.  The mind and body are inseparably connected.   Any healing discipline that treats one and not the other is an incomplete approach and more likely to fail. 

The most important first step in any healing process is to optimize nutrition.  Our bodies operate on a system of chemical language, the communication that is carried on at a cellular level.  This chemical language involves neurotransmitters and hormones.  The level of neurotransmitters and hormones  in our body is controlled by what we eat and assimilate.  If we do not get the building blocks from our diet to produce adequate levels of neurotransmitters and hormones, communication begins to break down and we experience dis-ease.  Our body's chemistry holds the key to the way we feel, and our chemistry begins with what is on our plate!  For instance, eating complex carbohydrates raises the level of tryptophan, a precursor to serotonin.  Complex carbohydrates include whole grains, vegetables, peas and beans.  High protein foods, such as salmon and turkey, promote the production of dopamine and norepinephrine, and contain the added benefit of essential fatty acids, both important nutrients contributing to mental alertness.  For more info. on how food affects mood we recommend, "Potatoes, not Prozac", by Kathleen DesMaisons, Ph.D. 

If you are considering using an anti-depressant, you owe it to yourself and your family to be well informed.  The media is rampant with ad campaigns to convince you and your family that your problem will be solved if you use these products.  The real story behind these drugs reads more like a nightmare.  There is no such thing as an antidepressant deficiency!  Don't be fooled by the big business hype of pharmaceutical companies.  The cells of the body do not require toxic chemical compounds.   Drugs block metabolic reactions, but nutrients facilitate metabolic reactions.   The late Carl C. Pfeiffer, M.D., Ph.D., known for his work in orthomolecular (nutritional) medicine, stated, "We have found that if a drug can be found to do the job of medical healing, a nutrient can be found to do the same job.  When we understand how a drug works, we can imitate its action with one of the nutrients."  The brain is the busiest, yet the most undernourished organ in the human body.  Every tissue in the body is affected by nutrition.  Under conditions of poor nutrition, organs begin to break down and become dysfunctional.  The brain is no different. 

Since the 1970's, orthomolecular therapists and doctors have been using amino acid therapy to treat depression.  Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and are used by the body to make neurotransmitters and hormones.   Dr. Billie Jay Sahley addresses this subject in two excellent books, "Breaking Your Prescribed Addiction", and "Heal With Amino Acids and Nutrients".  Dr. Sahley suggests a program that includes a complete amino acid supplement, as well as single amino acids specific to treating depression.  Vitamins and minerals are also needed as co-factors.  Specific amino acids used to treat depression include L-tyrosine, taurine,  L-phenylalanine, glutamine, glycine, GABA, and 5-HTP, with B-6, magnesium and zinc as co-factors.  Tyrosine is an anti-anxiety, anti-stress and antidepressant amino acid which increases norepinephrine and dopamine.  Clinical studies have shown that L-tyrosine controls medication resistant depression.  Taurine is involved in many brain functions, including the cerebral cortex, cerebellum, and others.  L-phenylalanine is the raw substance that produces several compounds responsible for transmission of nerve impulses. Glutamine is the third most abundant nutrient in the blood and brain.  Glutamine is the brain's major source of fuel.  Glycine helps trigger brain cells to fire electric charges.  GABA is involved in the condition of nerve impulses and is widely distributed throughout the brain and body.  5-HTP is converted to serotonin, the major neurotransmitter responsible for communication between cells.  Research has found a definite link between serotonin deficiency and depression.  Multiple vitamins and minerals are absolutely essential, with the B-vitamins, zinc, calcium and magnesium being especially important.  Lecithin aids in nerve transmission in the brain, with 30% of the brain being comprised of lecithin.  Essential fatty acids also play an important role in maintaining the integrity of cell membranes.......and I could go on.  Bottom line?  FEED YOUR BRAIN!  You'll be surprised what it can do for you!

VERY IMPORTANT NOTE - Withdrawal can often be more dangerous than continuing on a medication.   If you are currently on an antidepressant, DO NOT stop your medication abruptly.  Enlist the services of a health care professional that can help you very gradually taper your dose.  These drugs alter brain chemistry and upon withdrawal can cause severe and even life threatening reactions.  Also, some of the amino acids mentioned can be used during withdrawal to support the body nutritionally during the process.  However, others must not be used until complete withdrawal from the antidepressant.  For complete information on amino acid programs for depression, see Dr. Billie Jay Sahley's books, mentioned above.   Excellent information for withdrawal is also found at Dr. Ann Blake Tracy's web site.

 An average way that usually works is to reduce the dosage very slightly every 10 days, however, you need to check with your health professional as everyones body is different and you may be the exception.. 


Minerals -

Essential Fatty Acids - 

NAD - B-3 (niacin) supplement.  Regarded as one of the most effective nutrients in elevating mood and overcoming moderate depression - 

SAMe - may support nervous system function by increasing the synthesis and recycling of certain neurotransmitters.. SAMe is believed to positively effect a number of neurotransmitters, including serotonin, dopamine, noradrenaline and norepinephrine

St. John's Wart - most comprehensive mood balancing support supplement, combining herbs, vitamins, amino acids and other essential nutrients known for their ability to safely and naturally provide a calming effect on body and mind. -

Dr. John Christopher, M.H., N.D. took a cleansing, nourishing view of treating depression.  See his formulas at the link below.

Liver Transition Formula (to aid in the withdrawal from prescription drugs.  Cleanses the liver of toxic chemicals)

Mind Trac (mental and emotional clarity formula)

Kid-E-Trac (children's version of Mind Trac)

Jurassic Green (green drink, high in minerals and vitamins)

Vitalerbs (herb based vitamin/mineral)

NOTE:  If you suspect your problem may be related to endocrine dysfunction (pituitary, thyroid, pancreas, adrenal, or sex hormone imbalances) see Dr. Christopher's formulas for these organs. 

Liver cleansing may also help with depression.  The liver must break down all the bi-products of metabolism.  Faulty liver function can contribute to depression.  See Dr. Christopher's Liver Gallbladder formula at the link below.

For Dr. Christopher's products,

 References for this Newsletter:

"Prescription for Nutritional Healing", James Balch, M.D.

"Breaking Your Prescribed Addiction", Billie Jay Sahley, Ph.D.

"The Anxiety Epidemic", Billie Jay Sahley, Ph.D.

"Heal With Amino Acids & Nutrients", Billie Jay Sahley, Ph.D.


Suggested Reading:

"Your Drug May Be Your Problem", Peter Breggin, M.D.

"The Antidepressant Fact Book", Peter Breggin, M.D.

"Toxic Psychiatry", Peter Breggin, M.D.

"Breaking Your Prescribed Addiction", Billie Jay Sahley, Ph.D.

"Prozac, Panacea or Pandora", Ann Blake Tracy, Ph.D.

"Potatoes, not Prozac", Kathleen DesMaisons, Ph.D. 



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