Depression: A Holistic View
Depression is fairly common, in fact 11% of Americans are currently on an antidepressant. Antidepressants are the third most commonly prescribed drug and many individuals are on an antidepressant for multiple years. Depression has multiple symptoms that mimic inflammation such as fatigue, lack of sleep, and headaches.
A Traditional Approach To Depression
As of now, depression can be clinically classified as a deficiency of serotonin at the synaptic level. However, holistic practitioners question this classification. If this is so, why does an antidepressant take 6-8 weeks to take effect when chemically the drug is absolved within a few hours of ingesting? As more research emerges regarding the gut, the blood-brain barrier, and depression, more questions arise considering the usefulness of antidepressants.
In a study performed, participants were given a depression pill or a placebo pill. This study was conducted blindly so participants were unaware of which form of treatment they received. The end result concluded that there was barely a difference between the placebo group and the anti-depression pill group. Showing that the antidepressants have no real effect on the brain and depression symptoms.
This study shows that antidepressants are more of an addiction and individuals are made to think they are more helpful than they truly are. Patients become addicted to antidepressants and weaning a patient off of them has been shown to be similar to an individual withdrawing from heavy opioid use.
A Holistic View
As mentioned above, new studies represent a strong clinical connection between the gut and brain and have functional health care providers questioning the true effectiveness of antidepressants. What functional practitioners know is that depression means the body is out of balance, and restoring the balance begins by assessing the body’s flora. Just like many other health conditions, the underlying and driving factor is inflammation.
We now know that 95% of the body’s serotonin is created and stored in the gut. If depression is a lack of serotonin, then why is the gut not the first place we look? Chronic stress and environmental factors play a significant role in the guts microflora and bacteria that is housed within. The gut should contain a balance of healthy and pathogenic bacteria to function properly. When these bacterias become out of balance the gut begins to cause problems, ultimately resulting in symptoms such as fatigue, bloating, allergies, headaches, decreased libido, hormone imbalance, and more.
Ways To Help Your Gut
To naturally improve gut health, a balanced diet is key. Getting rid of processed, high carbohydrate foods reduce inflammation. Increasing fiber, healthy omegas, and phytonutrients provide the gut with more energy to feed the healthy bacteria within. All-natural supplements like zinc, curcumin, vitamin D, NAC, probiotics, and glycine have also been shown to impact the gut in a positive manner. Finally, three minutes of meditation and deep belly breathing per day can help positivity impact gut microflora and mood.
Here is a sample report of the test GI Effects Comprehensive Profile by Genova we use on our patients to assess their gut health:
Personally speaking, there are a number of individuals I know who have been or are on an antidepressant. The approach of looking to the gut first before giving a pill shows more promise in healing than long term prescription medication does. I highly encourage eating local, whole foods, fermented foods, and staying away from inflammatory foods as a first step towards helping our mental health. -Kenna Vaughn, Senior Health Coach
Brogan, Kelly. “Shifting the Paradigm of Depression: Psychoneuroimmunology .” Functional Medicine University. 2020, www. Functionalmedicineuniversity. com/members/1048.cfm.
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