Most of us have been affected by anxiety or depression (in some form) at some point in our lives. Stress, worry and sadness are all normal ranges of human emotion, but they sometimes take on greater importance when they start to interfere with our ability to cope with daily life. If you’ve been diagnosed with anxiety or depression, you may take medication, seek counseling, or both as part of your treatment plan. Many patients come to us seeking alternatives to medication, as they are concerned about side effects. As I always say, everything has its place, and some people need a combination of therapies to achieve wellness.
For many people, anxiety and depression is situational. In these cases, there is a distinct cause or event that has led to these feelings, and in these cases, the feelings are temporary. That’s not to say you don’t need help and support, but once the cause is removed (or situation is resolved), the anxiety and depression lift. Most cases of situational depression respond very well to naturopathic therapies. There are several herbs which can help with both anxiety and depression. When used properly, herbal medicines can be very effective alternatives to medication, with fewer side effects. Additionally, supplements such as vitamin D, the B vitamins and essential fatty acids can be used to help alleviate symptoms.
But, what about people who have suffered with anxiety and depression for many years, despite trying various therapies? In these cases, a more thorough assessment is needed to determine if there is an underlying cause. While the term “chemical imbalance” is often described as the cause of depression, it needs to be taken a step further. What has led to the imbalance? Are there nutrient deficiencies? Drug interactions? Chronic stress? Adrenal fatigue? Estrogen Dominance? These are all examples of conditions that need to be addressed.
So, at the end of the day, there are several alternatives that naturopathic medicine can provide in the treatment of anxiety and depression, including clinical nutrition, herbal medicine, acupuncture and lifestyle counseling. But, what is more important is that you find therapies that work for you. Talk to all of your health care providers, and trust that they are all working towards a common goal – your health.