I come from a long lineage of depressed people. I picked up the depressive torch at a very young age and in my teenage years, my depression became so severe that I sought help. I soon found out I only had two choices available to me: 1. Talk therapy or 2. medication.
I began with talk therapy, but those sessions left me exhausted from sobbing and with more terrible feelings. I knew I had to do something else if I was going to survive, so I agreed to take medication, even though every fiber of my being told me this was not a good idea. This was in the 1990’s and Prozac was gaining acclaim as a miracle drug. I was given a prescription and within a month of taking it, I attempted to take my own life. As I was “recovering” in a forced two-week stay in a psychiatric ward, I refused any other medication.
This was the start of my 20-year journey to search out alternative and natural solutions for my mood disorder. I scoured old bookstores and obscure websites and I started to find that there were effective non-medical solutions to the symptoms that plagued me. I wondered why no one was talking about this.
As a result of my research, I have found many effective alternatives to medication that have worked for me and others. I have listed a few of my favorites here as a starting point for you to research. My main message is this: there are many effective things we can do to heal from mood disorders that do not involve taking pharmaceutical medications. In fact, there are so many different modalities available, I started a website to compile them at www.AlternativeMentalHealthRevolution.com.
- Amino Acids- This is by far my first choice for effective, natural mental wellness. Amino acids are affordable, safe, and fast-acting. I have personally experienced relief within 5 minutes by taking certain amino acids. It took me quite a while to try them out because the information was overwhelming. I didn’t know which ones to take, how much, and which brand. Then I stumbled upon the book The Mood Cure by Julia Ross, and this book explained in detail about how to use amino acids. The author includes a quiz at the beginning of the book that helps people identify which aminos might be effective, based on symptoms. There’s also wonderful information about thyroid and adrenal health, two other root causes of depression-like experiences.
- Food- The old adage is true: you are what you eat. Even if you try to eat well, there are ingredients in modern food that can be problematic for people prone to depression and anxiety. For instance, the government requires food manufacturers to add synthetic folic acid to processed foods. The problem with that is more than half the population has a genetic mutation known as MTHFR that doesn’t allow them to process this food additive well. You may want to look into getting tested for this, or you can simply avoid foods with synthetic folic acid. Other ingredients in food may also contribute to mental health symptoms like: casein (dairy) or gluten (wheat). The pesticides that are sprayed on fruits and vegetables may also be problematic for your body. Some diets that have been successful for people with mood disorders include: the paleo diet, The GAPS diet, clean eating, and Gerson therapy. It may also be helpful to get tested for food allergies so you can avoid foods that cause inflammation. Everyone is different, so getting to know what works for your body is crucial.
- Toxins– William Walsh of the Walsh Institute has a wonderful pie chart that explains the 5 biotypes of depression. In it, he attributes one of the root cause to toxins. In modern society, we are inundated with a variety of toxins everyday, even if we’re practicing a healthy lifestyle. For instance, most of our drinking water had added fluoride, which is a known neurotoxin. Some tap water has high levels of copper, which can also contribute to mental illness symptoms. In addition, the air we breathe, and the chemicals that are in beauty products and deodorants can cause our bodies to become toxic. If you’ve received a vaccine, those contain very high levels of toxins and can cause symptoms. Many people are finding that their bodies have dangerous levels of heavy metals, including mercury and aluminum. Focusing on detoxification methods is an excellent way to start improving overall health and wellness, in addition to mental health.
These three areas are great places to start your research and begin to take your mental health into your own hands, but there are many more as well! Part of healing is the beautiful journey of really getting to know who you are and to truly love and care for yourself.
Judy Meyer, HHP, NHC is a holistic mental health coach practicing in San Diego, CA. She is the founder of alternativementalhealthrevolution.com. Follow her on Twitter @altmentalhealth or Instagram: Holistic_Depression_Coach.