Updated: Aug 20
Moodiness, depression, sadness, anxiety, a general sense of 'blah'...
It can be really hard to pin point exactly where you are at,
or make sense of what you are experiencing
so I hope this offers some help and clarity.
Perhaps someone you know has been feeling a bit 'off' lately and might benefit
from this read - remember sharing is caring.
Depression can be a spectrum of hard to define thoughts and feelings,
perhaps presenting as anxiety, or just general fatigue, and/or anything in between.
The severity of a depression can be a bit of a sliding scale,
with low mood, tiredness, feelings of sadness at one end,
right up to feeling as though people would be better off without you around
and that you'd rather not be here anymore at the other end of the scale.
What brings the black dog?
Sometimes the cause can be due to a neurotransmitter imbalance in the brain and gut. The predominant neurotransmitter responsible is serotonin
(of which up to 90% is produced in the gut,
illustrating the relationship between gut health and mental health),
but also as important are the neurotransmitters dopamine,
gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA), and nor-adrenaline.
Other factors that can influence or lead to depression are:
- exposure to traumatic events and significant loss (family member, financial situation)
- gender (us girls are more at risk - female sex hormones can play a big role in this!)
- genetic predisposition (perhaps someone in your family has mental health issues)
- nutrient deficiencies (e.g. vitamin D, magnesium, omega essential fatty acids)
- certain prescription medications
- alcohol and recreational drugs
- an existing chronic health condition (poor health is making you feel depressed)
We all experience life differently, but if you are unsure whether the feelings you are having may mean you are depressed you can take this test here.
You can also find heaps of great information explaining the inner and outer thoughts and behaviour that can be associated with depression and anxiety here.
Did you know that feeling good and having a positive outlook
generally means you'll live longer?
Not only does it obviously offer greater protection from dying by suicide,
but it also protects against coronary heart disease
and degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's.
Affirmations, meditation, Reiki, massage, exercise, and breathing exercises
have all been shown to increase quality of life
and promotion of positive mood in participants in studies
who have low mood through to clinical depression.
Some other things that you can do to to ensure
you are supporting your mental health are:
Spend time in the sunshine -
at least 10 minutes each day particularly in Winter.
Check out my last blog post on this here.
Get quality sources of Omega essential fatty acids daily -
practitioner only recommendations given here guys,
those off the shelf retail fish oils are not what I'm talking about!
Eat lots of different coloured vegetables and fruit -
around 7 servings each day (a serving is a handful).
Hug it out -
physical contact helps to boost those feel good chemical in the brain,
so grab a (willing) human or animal and hold them close.
Detox your life -
on a physiological level as sometimes
heavy metal toxicity and allergies can be causative in depression.
Also, on an emotional level by saying 'Bye'
to those toxic people/relationships/habits in your life.
Stop complaining -
this only brings you down further the focus is always on what is wrong,
rather than all the amazing things that may be going right!
I know this is easier said than done when in the darkness that depression brings
but this is one thing that I have consciously been working on since the start of the year.
It seriously makes a difference to how long shit sticks to you
or your ability to not let stuff affect you so much,
AND how the people around you feel and treat you
because you aren't such a 'Negative Nelly'.
write it all out to help get the noisy thoughts
from out of your head and into the physical realm.
You can use something like my reflection worksheet to help you get some clarity here.
Decrease your stress -
this is a biggy for so many people,
and chronic stress has been proven to affect the size and structure of our brain.
We simply are not designed to be under the amount of stress
that so many of us operate at for long periods of time!
Check out my blog to read more on this here.
Seek help -
there are many organisations offering help with depression and mood disorders.
Lifeline provides free support from qualified counselors
(0800 LIFELINE/0800 543354 or text 'HELP' to 5347).
You can also text or phone the number below to seek help.
Also have a chat with your GP if you are feeling down more often than not.
It may be that they think you could benefit from medication and discuss this with you, (although I urge you to do your own research first),
or they may refer you to counselling depending on your situation.
A qualified and registered Naturopath and/or Medical Herbalist
can also offer you help via nutritional guidance and herbal medicine
if are wanting to avoid prescription medication
or you didn't like to side effects of meds you've tried.
I only recommend practitioner-only herbs and supplements,
or products that I know contain quality ingredients and sustainable herbal extracts.
This is because if you are experiencing depression or associated symptoms
you need to be sure that you are getting a therapeutic dose
of whatever it is you are taking to be able to be effective.
Not just a token effort because for example, St John's wort is in the ingredients list.
If raising your energy, elevating your mood,
or enabling your capacity to cope with stress is something
you would like to explore please contact Amy@calyxhealth.nz
to arrange a FREE 15 minute discovery call
and assess whether an holistic approach to your health is right for you.
Amy Donovan is a qualified and registered Naturopath, Medical Herbalist and
Massage Therapist working from her private clinic in Te Awamutu, New Zealand.
Braun, L., & Cohen, M. (2015). Herbs & Natural Supplements, Volume 2: An Evidence-based Guide. Marrickville, Australia: Elsevier Australia.
Craft, J., Gordon, C., Tiziani, A. P., Huether, S. E., McCance, K. L., Brashers, V. L., & Rote, N. S. (2014). Understanding Pathophysiology - ANZ adaptation. Chatswood, Australia: Elsevier Health Sciences.
Hechtman, L. (2018). Clinical Naturopathic Medicine. Chatswood, Australia: Elsevier Health Sciences.
Marieb, E. N., & Hoehn, K. (2014). Human Anatomy & Physiology (9th ed.). Essex, England: Pearson.
Mariotti A. (2015). The effects of chronic stress on health: new insights into the molecular mechanisms of brain-body communication. Future science OA, 1(3), FSO23. doi:10.4155/fso.15.21
Micozzi, M. S. (2019). Fundamentals of complementary and alternative medicine. - E-book (6th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Saunders/Elsevier.
Misra, S., & Mohanty, D. (2017) Psychobiotics: A new approach for treating mental illness?. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, DOI: 10.1080/10408398.2017.1399860
Sarris, J., & Wardle, J. (2014). Clinical naturopathy - an evidence-based guide to practice(2nd ed.). Chatswood, NSW: Elsevier Australia.
Yaribeygi, H., Panahi, Y., Sahraei, H., Johnston, T. P., & Sahebkar, A. (2017). The impact of stress on body function: A review. EXCLI journal, 16, 1057-1072. doi:10.17179/excli2017-480
Young S. N. (2007). How to increase serotonin in the human brain without drugs. Journal of psychiatry & neuroscience : JPN, 32(6), 394–399.