By looking at American society today, one would think that there is a massive epidemic of Prozac deficiency. Millions of Americans are complaining of being unhappy and depressed—yet most doctors simply throw a pill at the problem! I prefer to go after the underlying causes, while using natural therapies to support the biochemistry of happiness. When you do this, most depression can be effectively treated—without the loss of libido, weight gain, fatigue, or increased risk of suicide seen with prescription antidepressants.
I’m tired of being depressed and want to be happy! How should I begin?
Let’s look at both the physical and psycho-spiritual components—which is a good approach for any illness.
From a psychological perspective, depression usually represents repressed anger which has been turned inward. This is why choosing to allow yourself to be angry or even to sometimes go into a rage can be healthy when you’re depressed—even if the people around you don’t like it. You can tell when the anger is healthy because it will feel good. Remember though, that you are choosing to be angry, and what you are angry about is nobody else’s fault (so don’t beat up others with your anger). When you don’t allow guilt to get in the way, notice how your depression decreases and you feel better after a good fit of anger!
My book “Three Steps to Happiness—Healing through Joy” (available at www.vitality101.com) will take you through the three steps that psycho-spiritually will help you to get past depression and leave you feeling great.
1) Feel all of your feelings without the need to understand or justify them. When they no longer feel good, let go of them. The book will teach you how to do this.
2) Make life a “no-fault” system. This means No Blame, No-Fault, No Guilt, No Judgment, and No Expectations on yourself or anyone else. This means you’ll be changing habits of thinking. For example, if you find yourself judging somebody, simply drop the judgment in mid-thought when you notice it. And no judging yourself for judging others!
3) Learn to keep your attention on what feels good. We sometimes are given the misconception that keeping attention on problems is more realistic. That is nonsense! Life is like a massive buffet with thousands of options. You can choose to keep your attention on those things that feel good. You’ll notice that if a problem truly requires your attention at any given time, it will feel good to focus on it. Otherwise, you’re living your life as if you have 200 TV channels to choose from, and you only choose to watch the ones you don’t like!
From a physical perspective, depression often reflects faulty biochemistry. Begin by asking yourself this simple question—”do I have many interests?” If the answer is yes, you’re probably not depressed but rather have other physical problems causing how you feel. Common causes would include poor sleep, infections, thyroid and other hormonal deficiencies (despite normal blood tests!) and nutritional deficiencies. For more information on treating these areas, see www.vitality101.com or my book “From Fatigued to Fantastic!” This is especially important to do if you have a combination of exhaustion, poor sleep, and in many cases widespread achiness. If this is so, you may well have chronic fatigue syndrome/fibromyalgia for which effective treatment is now available, and not depression. If you do not have many interests, you probably are depressed and the treatments below will be very helpful for you. Fortunately, depression is also very treatable.
What can I do to feel better while I’m going after these underlying problems?
Happiness has its own biochemistry which can be powerfully balanced and enhanced naturally. Overall nutritional support is essential, and I would recommend a good multivitamin powder (my favorite is the Energy Revitalization System). Also begin a walking program. Research has shown that walking briskly each day is as effective as Prozac for depression. Use herbal support if needed to get eight hours of sleep a night as well.
It is also critical that your body has what it requires to make the three key “happiness” neurotransmitters that your body needs. These are serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. B vitamins and magnesium are critical for energy production, as well as for producing the hormones and neurotransmitters that contribute to your feeling good!
The good news is that everything you need to do this can be found in the Happiness 1-2-3! supplement. Unlike most supplements that contain one or two things that help you feel better, this product combines 12 different ingredients in optimal levels—to help get you feeling great again! Many of these are each individually as effective.
Let’s review some of these, beginning with the basics.
1) B12 and folate/folic acid seem to be especially important, and I believe that the term RDA may as well stand for Ridiculous Dietary Allowances! You want at least 600-1,800 micrograms of Vitamin B12 and 400-1,200 micrograms of folic acid a day to be sure that optimal levels are getting into the brain where they are needed.
Approximately a third of patients with depression have been found to be deficient in folic acid, and this by itself can cause depression as can B12 deficiency. In addition, these two nutrients together contribute strongly to the production of both serotonin (the “happiness molecule”) and a powerful depression fighting nutrient called SAMe. In fact, studies of high-dose folic acid have shown this nutrient by itself to be as effective as antidepressant medications—but much safer and without side effects!
2) The B vitamins riboflavin and niacin are critical for energy production. In fact, these vitamins are key components of the “energy molecules” (like “energy dollars”—wouldn’t it be nice to have your own printing press!) NADH and FADH. Depression is a common symptom of niacin and riboflavin deficiency.
3) Vitamin B6 levels are generally quite low in depressed patients, and this is especially problematic in women taking birth control pills or estrogen—both of which can deplete Vitamin B6 levels. Vitamin B6 is critical in the production of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. Sadly, it is likely that millions of people on Prozac are simply suffering from depression caused by Vitamin B6 deficiency.
4) Magnesium deficiency is the single most important nutritional deficiency in the United States. Where the average Chinese diet contains approximately 650 mg of magnesium a day, because of food processing the average American diet only contains around 250 mg. This contributes to pain, fatigue, and increased risk of heart attacks, depression, and numerous other problems as magnesium is critical in over 300 different reactions in our body. In fact, numerous studies have shown that in areas with higher magnesium levels in the water, heart attack deaths decreased markedly.
5) Prescription antidepressants like Prozac®, Paxil®, and Wellbutrin® work by raising levels of the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. Unfortunately, because these medications work by poisoning critical pathways in your body, they are rife with side effects. A much safer and more effective way to raise these neurotransmitter levels is to give your body the building blocks it needs to make them. Serotonin is made from 5 Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), and dopamine and norepinephrine are made from tyrosine. Numerous double-blind (i.e. “gold standard”) studies have shown 5-HTP to be as effective as prescription antidepressants but much better tolerated. Another placebo-controlled study has shown tyrosine to also be as effective as antidepressants without side effects. In addition, if 5-HTP is given without tyrosine, it often stops working after a few months. Giving tyrosine along with the 5-HTP results in long-lasting improvement.
6) Most of you have heard of St. John’s Wort, and 25 double-blind studies with a total of over 1,500 patients have shown it to be as effective as prescription antidepressants—without the side effects. In addition to being effective in eliminating depression, it also helped sleep, anxiety, and low self-esteem.
7) Magnolia bark has a long history of use in traditional Chinese formulas that relieve anxiety and depression without leaving you feeling like you’ve been drugged. Magnolia Extract is rich in two phytochemicals, honokiol which exerts an anti-anxiety effect, and magnolol which fights the blues.. Like many of the other components in the Happiness 1-2-3 product, Magnolia has the ability to alleviate stress without sedating you. Dozens of animal studies have shown that it is a non-addictive and non-sedating—even at low doses.
The good news is that you can now effectively feel better naturally!
Happiness 1-2-3, which contains everything discussed above, is available from on-line retailers. Begin with three capsules three times a day (unless you are on high-dose antidepressants, in which case I usually give three capsules twice a day in my practice). Although some effect is seen within 2-3 weeks, the effects continue to powerfully increase over 6 weeks with continued use. Once you feel better, the dose can then be lowered.