The Pharmaceutical Blues

Feeling a little down in the dumps?  If you mention it to your medical doctor,
perhaps you will receive a prescription for an antidepressant medication, most
commonly an SSRI, such as Paxil or Lexapro. 
While these medications can be very helpful in cases severe clinical
depression, they are often over-prescribed these days.  Side effects are common, such as sleep
disturbances and weight gain, which increase your risk for chronic diseases
such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. 
In fact, a 2009 study found an 84% increased risk of diabetes for people
taking antidepressant medications for 2 years or more.  This length of treatment is not uncommon; for
while these drugs were originally designed to be used only for 6 weeks to 6 months,
many patients find it difficult to discontinue them, and so essentially remain
on the prescription forever. 
How does the naturopathic approach
to depression differ?  Natural
antidepressants include aerobic exercise, the herb St. John’s wort, and omega-3 fats from fish
and fish oil.  Naturopathic medicine also
seeks the cause of illness rather than just treating symptoms.  A thorough history, in combination with lab
testing, may reveal physical issues that contribute to depression.  These can range from thyroid or adrenal
problems to poor blood sugar control to menstrual cycle difficulties.  A recent animal study even suggested that
probiotic supplements may improve moods.  Any of these issues is best addressed from a
holistic point of view.
Looking at life circumstances is
important also.  Mind-body techniques, such as meditation, Sedona Method, or Emotional Freedom Technique, can
be useful to deal with everyday stressors. 
A referral for counseling is often very helpful.  Sometimes, in our perfection-seeking society,
we just need a reminder that sad moods are a normal and appropriate response to
life’s changes and losses.

If you are at all thinking about harming yourself or
others, seek urgent medical attention. 
For mild to moderate depression, naturopathic care is just what the
doctor ordered.

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