COVID has been a very trying time for many people, and we have certainly seen an increase in clients with high stress, anxiety or depression since it came along. So how can we get our ‘happy’ back again?
The first thing is to consider the main physiological causes of mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, or chronic stress, and get them addressed if any of them apply to you.
Low Thyroid Function
Your thyroid can have a major impact on your moods.
(It has been reported that at least 10%-15% of people suffering from depression have a thyroid hormone deficiency.)
Thyroid problems tend to be under-diagnosed; it is estimated that over 1 million Australian have an undiagnosed thyroid disorder. One of the reasons for this is that blood tests ordered by GPs usually only measure the TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) levels. Whereas most experienced natural therapists and The Australian Thyroid Foundation recommend that additional tests be conducted to assess the thyroid more thoroughly, including thyroid hormones T4 and T3, and thyroid antibodies tests.
Also, a link has also been discovered between low T3 and long-standing depression. The usual treatment for low thyroid is a synthetic T4 medication, so if the depression is caused by low T3 instead of low T4, the medication could potentially make the person’s depression worse instead of better.
The medical research literature contains an abundance of peer-reviewed studies which show links between depression and various nutritional deficiencies.
Some of the minerals are particularly important. Our bodies require optimal amounts of trace minerals such as magnesium, zinc, and vanadium (to name a few) to function. A lack of some minerals or excess of other minerals can trigger symptoms of depression. For instance, low levels of zinc are associated with a resistant form of depression. Deficiencies of magnesium can bring on a wide range of psychiatric symptoms related to depression and psychosis. Research has revealed a link between high levels of the mineral vanadium and manic symptoms. Low lithium (which helps control B12 functions) often causes a type of depression that involves bad brain fog.
The other most common nutritional causes of low mood are deficiencies of any of the following.
Food allergies create a metabolic disorder that can lead to a large range of “mental” symptoms, including depression.
Gluten and dairy are the most common foods people react to. And partially digested dairy and wheat particles (called caseomorphins and gliadomorphins) are commonly found in the urine of severely depressed patients (as well as children with autism and ADHD). These unusual proteins affect brain function, and can lead not only to depression but also psychosis and autism.
The average Australian diet contains many foods that stimulate inflammation in the body, and there is extensive research showing that depression is associated with chronic low-grade inflammation.
The bacteria in your intestines can have an indirect but significant effect on your brain. More about the effects of gut bacteria.
For women, the reproductive hormones oestrogen and progesterone can have an obvious effect on their mental state. But did you know that an imbalance of other hormones such as insulin and cortisol can also have a detrimental impact on depression?
Depression and Adrenal Function
Depression has been linked to disruptions in the body's stress centre -- the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis. The HPA is a complex communication system between the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland, and the adrenal glands.
The hypothalamus is a region of the brain that controls an immense number of functions in the body, some of which include the emotions, behaviour, pain, and pleasure. It is basically a collecting centre for information relating to the well-being of the body, and much of this information is used to stimulate the pituitary to produce different hormones.
One of these pituitary hormones (adrenocorticotropin) is in turn responsible for causing the adrenal glands to produce the stress hormones cortisol and DHEA.
Cortisol and DHEA have been directly linked to chronic stress and other emotional conditions. There is a strong relationship between excess production of cortisol and mood variations. As with many of the body's physiological responses, balance is the key. Overactivity of the body's stress system is associated with anxiety, insomnia, loss of libido, while underactivity is linked to depression with accompanying fatigue, lethargy, and indifference.
It is common to find an imbalance in the relationship between the hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenal glands in those with depression or anxiety.
Common Chemicals Affecting the Brain
Most chemical sensitivities occur gradually over years until the body reaches a certain tolerance point. However, sometimes a person may experience a sudden onset of depression when a new carpet is installed, their home is renovated or freshly painted, etc. Your body needs plenty of zinc to neutralise everyday home and office chemicals.
The most common chemical found in carpets, home furnishings, copy machines, commercial floor cleaners, polishers, waxes, glues, adhesives, and other common household and office surroundings is called trichloroethylene. This chemical is easily inhaled or absorbed through your skin. Normally this and most other man-made chemicals would be neutralized by your body's own detoxification system and eliminated.
However, if your body's ability to neutralise chemicals is reduced (for example by a zinc deficiency), this chemical will back up and accumulate in the brain. When this happens it is usually converted to choloral hydrate, which causes a person to feel spacey, dizzy, dopey, unable to concentrate, foggy, and very depressed.
This is one example, but there are many other common chemicals linked to depression.
Blood Flow in the Brain
In Japanese acupuncture, blood flow within the brain is very important. Restricted blood flow in the head can result in poor memory, depression, brain fog, dementia, etc. This poor blood flow can result from an old injury to the head, tightness or restriction in the neck, or less commonly from a congested liver which is affecting the blood flow in the body as a whole.
So there is no one treatment that will fix everyone; if you take ten people suffering with depression it is likely the causes and the treatment would be different for each of them. What may help one person may do absolutely no good for five others. So establishing what is causing the problem is a crucial first step.
Registered naturopaths normally have a 4 year degree in naturopathy. They look at how the chemistry and processes of the body are working, what is not working properly, what is causing the problem, and how to correct it with natural substances. For example, they would likely check and treat the following as needed.
and many other processes and functions in the body. Typically, high potency practitioner-level supplements, herbs and/or diet changes are prescribed by them to improve the body and correct the problem.
Acupuncture can have many beneficial effects on the body. For example, it has been medically established that acupuncture can help with depression caused by chronic pain by treating the underlying pain.
Natural therapies aim to correct any problems with the way the body is working to provide a long-term solution for the problem, rather than just treat the symptoms.
If you would like to find out if a natural approach to your depression or other mental health issue is likely to work for you, consider booking in for a free Comprehensive Assessment at our clinic. We can then check what is going on in your body, what is causing any problems, and the best way to sort it out. (Terms and conditions- the Assessment is a completely free service, with no obligations whatsoever.) Have a good life!
Valued at $120, your Assessment will help to uncover:
All this will be fully explained to you, and you can ask as many questions as you like. That way we can be sure to give you all of the right information, understanding and advice you need. Terms and conditions: This is a free, no obligation offer.