It’s normal to experience transient periods of sadness, irritability and feelings of insecurity or unworthiness. Everyone has times when they experience less pleasure from activities they normally enjoy or feel diminished hope for the future.
However, with depression, these feelings are more frequent and severe, and may even become constant companions. You may feel an unrelenting sense of hopelessness that makes it difficult to get out of bed in the morning, or to carry out basic tasks such as cooking a meal or tending to one’s home.
Being depressed can compromise your ability to function in your job, make it harder to relate to your friend, partner, or child. Depression can also have a negative impact on your health. It may be harder to motivate yourself to eat well, to exercise and to get enough sleep. If you suffer from depression, you know how lonely, difficult and painful it can be.
Some people who experience depression also experience alternating periods of elevated mood and may swing back and forth between low and high moods that are destabilizing andcansignificantlyinterfere with your relationships, work and day-to-day functioning.
If you suffer from such mood swings (that are characteristic of someone with bipolar disorder or cyclothymia), you know how disruptive they can be to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, sleep rhythm and relationships.
There are a number of holistic approaches that can help to reduce your symptoms and improve your overall –- even if you are on pharmaceutical medication to help stabilize your moods.
I view mood disorders on a spectrum with severe depression and severe mania on either end:
Severe Depression Dysthymia Normal Mood Hypomania Mania
Viewing mood disorders in this way ensures that even if you are suffering from some of the symptoms of low or elevated mood, or mood swings — but have not been formally given a diagnosis of one of these disorders — you can still be recognized as needing support. And with treatment, your mood can be better stabilized and your overall health improved.
To round out our discussion on depressive disorders, there is a form of depression, Seasonal Affective Disorder or S.A.D. (also known as ‘The Winter Blues’), which makes one feel depressed or lethargic only in fall and winter. S.A.D. responds very well to a variety of holistic approaches, including chronotherapy.
- Antidepressants– May offer relatively quick relief, but in general, are not curative (once the medication is removed, the depression returns). Further, such medications are not without side effects and thus should be reserved for use in cases where patients are not responsive to other interventions.
- Mood stabilizers– Bipolar disorder can be worsened by antidepressants (triggers hypomania or mania) and careful management of medications with mood stabilizers is often necessary.
Conventional treatment may be needed in some cases of depression and bipolar disorder, but even if this provides you with some help, in my experience, you can generally experience increased relief and mood stabilization through natural, holistic approaches.
Natural approaches may include optimizing hormonal balance, digestive health, nutrient intake and circadian rhythms, minimizing inflammation (a common cause of depression) and addressing sleep issues and past trauma.
Holistic or Natural treatment:
A holistic or natural approach to mood disorders has the added benefit of addressing physical health issues that you may be experiencing along with depression and/or hypomania/mania. In some cases, these concurrent health issues may be causing or contributing to you feeling depressed or having mood swings:
- Digestive disorders
- Heart (cardiovascular) conditions
- Hormonal imbalances (thyroid, adrenal and sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone and testosterone)
- Musculoskeletal disorders including low back pain and other muscular, joint and bone issues (there is an increased risk of osteoporosis in depression).
- Chronic infections
- Neurological disorders
- Sleep disorders
- Poor blood sugar regulation
- Nutrient deficiencies (particularlyvitamin B12, vitamin D, folate, zinc and iron)
If you have been suffering from depression or mood swings and are interested in exploring a holistic approach for treatment, I invite you to schedule a complimentary consultation visit.