Regardless of the nature or severity of your mental health problem, to successfully treat it, you need to take a holistic approach. Rarely will medication be the sole answer.
Studies show there is a strong correlation between improved mood and aerobic capacity. There's also a growing acceptance that the mind-body connection is very real, and that maintaining good physical health can significantly lower your risk of developing depression in the first place. Exercising creates new GABA-producing neurons that help induce a natural state of calm.
Make sure you're getting enough high-quality sleep, as sleep is essential for optimal mood and mental health. A fitness tracker that tracks your sleep can be a useful tool. The inability to fall asleep and stay asleep can be due to elevated cortisol levels, so if you have trouble sleeping, you may want to get your saliva cortisol level tested with an Adrenal Stress Index test.
Keeping inflammation in check is an important part of any effective treatment plan. Switching to a whole food diet can go a long way toward lowering the inflammation level in your body and brain.
Vitamin D deficiency is another important biological factor that can play a significant role in mental health, especially depression. A double-blind randomized trial, published in 2008 concluded that supplementing with high doses of vitamin D "seems to ameliorate these symptoms indicating a possible causal relationship."
Ideally, maintain your vitamin D level between 40 and 60 ng/mL year-round. If you cannot get sufficient sun exposure to maintain this level, taking an oral vitamin D3 supplement would be advisable. Just remember to also take vitamin K2 and magnesium, as these all work together.
Slowing your breathing increases your partial pressure of carbon dioxide (CO2), which has enormous psychological benefits and can quickly reduce anxiety.
SAMe is an amino acid derivative that occurs naturally in all cells. It plays a role in many biological reactions by transferring its methyl group to DNA, proteins, phospholipids and biogenic amines. Several scientific studies indicate that SAMe may be useful in the treatment of depression. 5-HTP is another natural alternative to traditional antidepressants.
When your body sets about manufacturing serotonin, it first makes 5-HTP. Taking 5-HTP as a supplement may raise serotonin levels. The evidence suggests 5-HTP outperforms a placebo when it comes to alleviating depression — more than can be said about antidepressants.
If you are experiencing symptoms of mental or physical distress and would like to discuss your treatment options, schedule an appointment with one of our providers today by using our online form or by calling (805) 341-3416 during normal business hours.