Most of us know of a co-worker, friend or family member who has suffered with depression and/or anxiety symptoms. For many of these folks, their symptoms are exacerbated during the Winter months especially in colder and less sunny climate regions (such as Ohio). Pharmacological interventions are utilized by millions of healthcare consumers to combat their depression/anxiety symptoms. While prescription drugs can be very effective for many, some patients desire a more natural approach to managing this health issue. In my clinical practice, I have treated successfully many patients who deal with depression and/or anxiety by employing an integrative approach including dietary, lifestyle changes and alternative medicine.
I would like to share very briefly some of these approaches that might be helpful. In terms of dietary, generally speaking, patients with depression disorder have responded better when folate-rich foods are included in their diet. Foods rich in folic acid (i.e., vitamin B 9) are beans, asparagus, spinach, avocado, broccoli and eggs. Additionally, fortified cereals (with added vitamin D) can help your body to release the “feel-good” neurotransmitter, serotonin. Other sources of vitamin D are low-fat dairy products and sunshine. You should round out your diet as well with omega 3 fatty acid foods such as cold water fish (e.g. salmon), flax seed and walnuts.
Other considerations would be certain supplements such as DHEA, 5-HTP and St. John’s Wort. As a caveat, some in the scientific community are not proponents of these supplements for combating depression and so it’s important that you have an honest dialogue with your physician regarding their use. From my clinical experience, I have seen some positive results in some of the patient population.
Beyond dietary considerations there are other things that you can do to help alleviate or lessen the “blues.” Investing in full spectrum lighting that simulates the sun can be therapeautic. Additionally, consider listening to what I affectionately refer to as “elevator music.” Turn off the news and tune into relaxation music especially music in the 432Hz range. YouTube has thousands of selections that are free for public consumption. One of my favorite channels is “Meditation and Healing.” Certainly engaging in regular exercise is important for both physical and mental health. Brisk walking and resistance training are great forms of exercise for everyone. I remember when I was in acupuncture school I asked one of the Chinese doctors what exercise was the best for the body. Without hesitation, Dr. Chen responded, “brisk walking.” Finally, certain forms of alternative medicine such as Reiki and acupuncture can be great adjunct therapies. These forms of medicine are rooted in the foundational believe that the human body is physical, spiritual and emotional.
In closing I want to extend a special thanks to our veterans who serve so we may endure our freedoms.
Kevin Decot, L.Ac., Dipl. Acu.
Note: Kevin is an ambassador volunteer for Resurrecting Lives Foundation. He has 35 years of corporate experience including wellness strategy for a Fortune 100 company. He currently has an acupuncture practice in Marysville, Oh where he routinely treats veterans. For more information visit www.healthcentergyohio.com