It’s amazing how fast this year has gone! Look at the calendar folks. It is September! Holy cow. The holidays are coming rapidly. The holidays are associated with a lot of happiness, but unfortunately this is also the time of year when depression begins to creep up on us. There is so much to do and so little time to do it and I’m sure the expectation for perfection is causes quite a bit of stress. This is also a time of year when the days are shorter and our exposure to sunlight can go down (although here in Arizona I do find that I try to spend more time outside in the sunlight, if I get out of work early enough to see the sunshine). This is a perfect storm for glum composure.
I have had so many questions lately about depression and I feel like patients aren’t really given enough information when they are diagnosed with depression. The majority of the patients I talk to aren’t aware that there are more options than just popping a pill every day.
Now I’m not saying that antidepressants aren’t a good option for some people. Antidepressants treat a chemical imbalance in the brain. This is why it may take a couple tries to find an antidepressant that works for you. There are many kinds of antidepressants as well. Tricyclics like amitriptyline (Elavil), was used quite a long time ago, although it is mostly used for patients who have difficulty sleeping now. SSRIs, which work purely on serotonin, are the most well known. Fluoxetine (Prozac), citalopram (Celexa), and escitalopram (Lexapro) are the ones I see the most. Budeprion (Wellbutrin) works a little differently. It works on the norepinephrine and dopamine. It can be used on it’s own or in combination with other antidepressants and can be helpful for patients who are experiencing sexual side effects from their other antidepressants. Another group of antidepressants that are being used more are venlafaxine (Effexor) and duloxetine (Cymbalta) which work on both norepinephrine and serotonin. What all of these medications have in common is that you should never stop taking these medications without the help of your doctor otherwise you can experience a pretty nasty withdrawal.
Many patients ask me about St. John’s Wart, which can be very effective, but the major problem is that St. John’s Wart interacts with soooo many medications and herbs. It also should never be used with other antidepressants because it is an SSRI and there is the potential for serotonin syndrome (which is life threatening).
- Exercise. It has been shown to increase the number of serotonin and dopamine receptors in the brain. These are our happy neurotransmitters. It’s definitely hard to start a work out routine, but you will feel better afterwards. Just keep fighting for your motivation. You are worth fighting for.
- Eat right. A little malnutrition can really destroy your body’s balance, including the balance in the brain. Lots of fresh fruits and veggies, and watch those simple carbohydrates (although I think a little chocolate helps some 😉 ).
- Positive Self Talk. When you mess up or make a mistake do not beat yourself up. Telling yourself you’re stupid when something happens can really effect you (even if you aren’t aware of it). You can get mad at the situation, but no more beating yourself up. Also, try to say something nice about yourself every day. It will make a difference.
- Get enough sleep. See our blog on sleep hygiene.
- Talk to someone about what is bothering you. I am not quite sure why doctors think that the best treatment for depression is a prescription. Talking to a therapist can do soooo much good. And money isn’t really a draw back. Many therapists work on a sliding scale according to what people can afford.
- Find a hobby! Get out of the house to watch a live band, take up knitting, take a creative writing class, pick up an old hobby. Do something that makes you look forward to the next day.
- Biofeedback can sometimes be a great option. This form of cognitive behavioral therapy which is amazing for people with depression associated with anxiety. It teach you how to control your body temperature and heart rate so that you can learn to control your bodies reactions to anxiety.
- Get outside and enjoy the sunshine. Exposure to UV light has be shown to naturally elevate mood.
- Check for hormone imbalances including testosterone (yes girls, even for us), progesterone, estrogen, and perhaps even some adrenal fatigue. Treatments are available for these conditions and at Mixtures we are very experienced in treating all these deficiencies. Just stop on in or give us a call and we can set up a consultation!
There are many other options to help treat depression so don’t be afraid to ask and don’t be afraid to try something new!