Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Depression - Supplement Solutions

5-HTP, Neuro Bliss, L-Tyrosine, Holy Basil

Some of you may have read the title of this blog and figured out the meaning behind it, if you or someone close to you has suffered from depression. When I ask for "blue skies", I'm asking for a depression free day, free of the "black cloud" of depression.  I have suffered from depression on and off since I was a teenager. The worst of it was in my early twenties. I tried prescription drugs and was uninformed by my doctor some important facts about them.  Prescription antidepressants and anxiety drugs:
  1. Cause weight gain
  2. Are addictive
  3. Cause withdrawals when you stop taking them
  4. Can make your depression & anxiety worse
  5. Cause drowsiness
  6. Insomnia

That's just a few of the side effects. So finally after much searching, about ten years ago I found natural alternatives without side effects. These are the supplements from a health food store that will help your depression:
  1. L-Tyrosine, 500 mg
  2. Holy Basil
  3. 5-HTP
  4. Neuro Bliss Drink
I find L-Tyrosine is enough for me, one a day is all it takes. Give it two to four weeks to start working and if that isn't enough add Holy Basil and/or 5-HTP.  Those two are both best taken in the evening.  When I'm having a bad day I add those or the Neuro Bliss Drink. I'm able to keep depression away except a few days twice a year on two traumatic anniversaries. Some additional suggestions to help you:
  1. Exercise at least every other day at least 30 mins, preferably 60 mins
  2. Keep yourself busy with a hobby
  3. Get at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night
  4. Write down or pin on Pinterest what makes you happy and read or look at that list when sad
  5. Have a support system: join a support group and/or have a close friend you can confide in
  6. Do Yoga, meditation, deep breathing or something to relax you
  7. Be easy on yourself on the bad days: do less and take a break
  8. Find the cause of your depression
  9. Sunlight
First on the list is exercise. I know, I can hear you now, "no way when I feel like crap".  Ok, those days you can't get out of bed, yeah it's not going to happen, I understand!  I'm talking about when it's not as bad and those days you are free of depression. Be religious about it when you feel well, push yourself when you don't. Do what it takes, bribe yourself.  Tell yourself you will get a reward if you exercise.  Whether it's a cookie, going to a movie, shopping, whatever it takes! Or tell yourself you will do it five minutes and if it's awful you will stop. I assure you, you will get past the first five minutes to ten then fifteen and so on.  It's a mind game. You need to figure out if you need an exercise buddy or prefer to workout alone.  Also, try out different types of exercise and find what you like or dislike the least and do it.  Exercise produces serotonin which makes you feel happy. Take a walk at the very least because it will make you feel better!  Also, figure out if you are best suited for exercising in the morning or the evening. If you're a morning person, odds are exercising in the morning is best. If you're a night owl, try exercising at night but not too close to your bed time.

Second, keep yourself busy with a hobby.  Find a hobby, something!  Crochet, quilting, cross-stitch, knitting, volunteering, reading, crafting, find something! You need to keep your mind busy and off what is bothering you and hobbies also give you the reward of accomplishment in return.

Third is sleep! Don't skip it! There are supplements for this also, if this is an issue for you.  Melatonin, 5-HTP, Valerian, Passionflower and Chamomile. GNC makes a good one that you melt under your tongue. I currently use Andrew Lessman's PM Relaxation & Night Time supplements.  They have all of those ingredients in one capsule. They can be purchased on his website at or Neuro also makes a drink called Sleep that works well. Make sure you take these around sunset and not right before bedtime as long as you are at home and not driving, etc.  Also, establish a regular bedtime and stick to it. Stay tuned for a blog post more in depth about insomnia.

Fourth on the list is to write down what makes you happy. When you are depressed you can't see straight, so this is an important step. Write it down when you are not depressed. Whether it's music, photos of cute dogs, a free game on Facebook, whatever, write it down prior to the black cloud. Then force yourself to look at the list when you are sad to remind yourself of some things you can do or look at the happy photos. Check out my Make Me Happy Pinterest board for ideas or follow & pin.

Fifth is have a support system. Don't socialize with those who don't understand depression, can't empathize and can't be kind to you during these times. People who say "why the sad face, cheer up, or smile" aren't the ones you want to hang around because they will make it much worse. Spend time with a friend that has suffered from depression or who has been around someone who has had depression and understands. A friend that can be extra nice, empathetic and kind during the bad times is SO important!  I thank my friend Anne who in High School was there for me, gave me my space and was extra kind and never took it personal when I felt depressed and was grumpy.  That's who you need, a real friend not a conditional one. There are support groups also that you can go to, if you don't mind a group setting. Emotions Anonymous is one I attended and hosted in the past & recommend.  They use the Just For Today: The Choice is Mine 12 Steps.  I recommend printing it off and reading it when you feel sad or stressed. You need to learn that you are not alone and the coping methods that work. One of the best things I heard in that group from a member was "Don't let anyone live in your head rent free!"  That has been very helpful to me over the years.

Sixth is do something to relax you. When you are stressed you really need something to help you calm down or depression may set in.  Remember sadness turns to anger which turns into depression. I use the "Rest, Relax & Release" technique from meditation which can be done anywhere when you are stressed. It's simple: let your body rest, then relax the muscles and then release the tension & imagine it leave your body into the universe. Start from your toes and work your way to your head. This is just the basics of meditation. I encourage you to learn more about it and give it a try. Also, I recommend beginners yoga. It's not as difficult as it looks and it works!  These are things you should do when you can push yourself to do them. When you can't, a hot bath & aromatherapy will help.  Get some essential oils from a health food store and dab them on your temples or put some in your bath water. Lavender essential oil is really good for relaxation and calming which is also helpful for insomnia.

Seventh is give yourself a break. On days you feel really sad, make sure your to do list is as short as you can make it.  Don't try to tackle what you would normally do because you will exhaust yourself or fail and that alone will make you feel depressed. Just tell yourself you will tackle those things on another day and forget about it.  Rest when you can and take it easy, but that doesn't mean skipping exercise. You need to do that if at all possible to get your body to produce the serotonin you need to feel better. 

Eighth is the hardest one, trying to find the cause of your depression. Whether it's a health condition that causes it or a traumatic event in your life. You need to find out what it is so you can move forward. There are many diseases that have depression as a symptom.  If you don't find out what it is you can't treat it and start to feel better. My thyroid disease is one cause and medication is the treatment.  It also can be hereditary and there is that nasty postpartum depression caused by dramatic changes in hormone levels just as in teen years. Write down all your symptoms on a list and research those symptoms and discuss it with your doctor.  I saw six doctors before I was able to get my thyroid disease diagnosis. My body is extremely sensitive to hormone levels and my blood work was barely showing the diagnosis. You have to keep insisting and pushing till you get a decent doctor that isn't lazy and just hands you a prescription for antidepressants. If it's a traumatic event that happened to you or a loved one that is the cause, you need to find a way to cope. Someone to talk to or a support group is what I recommend along with the other seven steps mentioned above. In that case, remember that tomorrow it won't feel as bad.  Time does heal those wounds.  Not to say you won't feel it, but it won't feel so severe and you will be able to go on with your life. There is also seasonal affective disorder caused by the lack of sun especially during the winter when there are less hours of sunshine.  That could be the cause of your depression that you may need to look into.  There are many possible causes, so keep searching and researching till you find it!  Don't give up!

Ninth, don't stay in dark rooms without sunlight.  You must open the blinds and get as much sunlight as possible.  Don't rent or buy a home or apartment with dark rooms!  Buy one that has large windows and has a living room that has lots of sunlight. When we built our home we specifically chose it to have the room we spend the most time in facing the afternoon and evening sun and even went so far as to add skylights.  The windows all along the back of the house go from the ceiling to the floor and it makes all the difference.  I also recommend sitting outside in direct sunlight for at least twenty minutes a day.

Ok, well that sums it up very quickly.  I could write a book on how to deal with depression, but this is a blog so I have to keep it short.  Just remember to push yourself on those days you don't feel as bad or the days you feel good and be kind & gentle with yourself on the bad days. If you have any questions or need someone to chat with email me or comment below. Hugs to you and I hope that I have helped you or someone you know. Please share this blog post because information is power and I wished someone had told me about these supplements many years ago. Feel free to snag my depression signature tags at my Fotki album.

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Have a PEACEful Day!

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