Depression & Alternative Strategies
Oct 31, 2016 01:26PM
by Christina Captain, DAOM (c), MSAOM, MSHN, MA
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) states that 10% of adults ages 40–59 currently report depression, and one in 20 Americans ages 12 years or older report having experienced depression within the past two weeks. One out of every 10 Americans is prescribed an antidepressant drug, and in women, that statistic is one in four. In my opinion, this seems like an epidemic of antidepressant medication raining down upon the public. Maybe this is a knee-jerk reaction or maybe it’s just on the list of remedies to combat a feeling described as listlessness or disconnect from friends and family.
Depression has a spectrum of symptoms ranging from mild to severe. In severe cases, medication could be necessary and appropriate as you and your healthcare practitioner might determine. From a Naturopathic and Traditional Chinese Medical approach, depression can be related to a lack of connection with nature and basic human relationships.
Currently, many people live in a state of “disconnect,” substituting face-to-face relationships with virtual realities, causing chronic exposure to overstimulation. This can provoke symptoms that are often diagnosed as depression. Even the immune system can be compromised during bouts of depression and, in turn, frequent illnesses can cause fatigue and depression. Here are some strategies that might be utilized instead of automatically turning to a prescription anti-depressant drug.
Clean Up Your Diet.
Many hormonal and brain chemicals are affected by foods or lack of specific nutrients, so begin by eliminating sugar and any artificial sweeteners from your diet. Next, eliminate dairy and artificial creamers. Make sure to continue the elimination for a minimum of two weeks. After this initial transition, you should begin feeling better every day.
Move Your Body.
Exercise releases brain chemicals called endorphins, and these hormones trigger positive feelings throughout the body which can help alleviate depression. So, take a walk, run, swim or cycle–– preferably outside.
Re-connect with Nature.
Disconnect from technology, stop scrolling through Facebook, put down your mobile phone or tablet and spend time enjoying the fresh air. This “nature cure” is something that Naturopaths across the country have been prescribing for several years. The essence is to reconnect with nature as the human animals that we are––eventually increasing awareness to the fact that “we are nature,” not separate from nature.
Check Your Vitamin D.
Decreased levels of Vitamin D have been associated with depression, even in geographic regions where there is ample sunshine like Florida. Checking these levels is easy simple and almost always covered by insurance. Moreover, adequate Vitamin D helps support the immune system and prevents against the return of some cancers.
This ancient modality has been shown to increase and balance levels of “happy hormones” like endorphin, enkephalin, dopamine and serotonin. To experience acupuncture, locate a board-certified practitioner in your area through NCCAOM.org.
Finally, Write It Down.
Keeping a journal can help you discover all the positive changes you have made in the fight against depression. If you suffer from reoccurring mild to moderate depression––or even if you don’t–– incorporating this, as well as the other strategies, can make a signigicant difference in your life.
Christina Captain is a nationally board-certified and Florida-licensed acupuncture physician and the lead practitioner at the Family Healing Center which she founded in 2000. In 2014, she earned a Master of Science degree in Human Nutrition from the University of Bridgeport, Connecticut, and is currently a candidate for the Doctorate in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine with a focus in integrative medicine from AOMA––Graduate School of Integrative Medicine, Austin, Texas. (2016). Captain’s knowledge and enthusiasm for health and wellness has earned her a reputation as a qualified lecturer, keynote speaker and experienced teacher throughout the United States. To meet Dr. Captain, call 941-951-1119 and schedule your free meet-and-greet.