Anxiety & Depression
Anxiety and depression hijack your brain and make you forget what it’s like to live in a happy, peaceful world. Fortunately, there are a host of effective, natural treatments for anxiety and depression.
Looking For Help For Anxiety or Depression?
How do I know if I have a Mental Health Issue?
It’s common to live with Anxiety or Depression for long periods of time. It’s also common to believe it’s a normal or inevitable part of life. Nothing could be further from true. Your mind and body are meant to be calm, relaxed, and joyful most of the time.
Having anxiety or depression is like putting a frog in boiling water. If you throw the frog in boiling water, it jumps out immediately. However, if you slowly raise the temperature, it doesn’t notice and eventually boils to death. Anxiety and Depression can often feel like this. They often come on slowly and gradually, to the point where we don’t notice.
Diagnosing mental health conditions is complex, as conditions can occur simultaneously. We don’t always fit in clear diagnostic buckets.
Anxiety can feel like constant jitters, feeling unsafe, or nervous about routine events. It’s common to feel afraid of normal, everyday things. If the underlying causes of anxiety aren’t dealt with, it can start to evolve into panic attacks. Other symptoms include:
- Uncontrollable worrying
- Having a sense of impending danger, panic, or doom
- Feeling nervous, restless, or tense
- Rapid heartbeat
- Short, rapid breath which feels tight in the chest
- Hands trembling and hard to control
- Digestive discomforts (gas, bloating, pain)
- Feeling burnt out and tired regularly
- Difficulty concentrating (especially in simple tasks like reading)
- Disrupted sleep
Depression and anxiety are not mutually exclusive; you can have one or the other, or cycle into periods of both simultaneously. Depression can feel like:
- Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness, or hopelessness
- Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters
- Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, such as sex, hobbies, or sports
- Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much
- Tiredness and lack of energy, so even small tasks take extra effort
- Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain
- Anxiety, agitation, or restlessness
- Slowed thinking, speaking, or body movements
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or self-blame
- Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions, and remembering things
- Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts, or suicide
- Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches
Fortunately, there’s a wide variety of life-changing treatment options available for anxiety and depression which don’t include medication. Rather than simply trying to manage your discomforts, Integrative treatments help you become happier, healthier, and more peaceful in general. Discovering the wide world of treatment options available in Integrative Medicine is refreshing and inspiring for most people.
The Root Causes of Anxiety & Depression:
Trying to understand anxiety and depression through the lenses of conventional medicine can be a confusing journey. Looking at mental conditions through chemical hormones gets increasingly complex and hard to follow. Conventional health care doesn’t give us helpful frameworks to understand it.
There are two primary underlying causes of anxiety & depression:
- Trauma and the associated triggers.
We tend to think of trauma as a major life event (a car crash, a major injury, physical abuse, etc.) Major traumas are often present in cases of anxiety or depression.
However, we often overlook the “micro-traumatic” events that happen to most of us, all the time. Micro-trauma can include things like: getting yelled at by your boss or parent, getting made fun of at school, being dumped by a boyfriend or girlfriend, feeling overwhelmed, or anything that causes sudden, unexpected emotional distress. These traumatic impressions are stored in the mind as well as the body.
In almost every instance of anxiety and depression, there is a build-up of trauma and overwhelm at the source. For a moment think back to when your anxiety or depression first began. It’s likely some form of distressing event occurred right around this time.
Trauma can make us emotionally shut down, which can lead to early signs of depression. It can also lead us to resist and avoid the same event from happening again, the early signs of anxiety. Oftentimes, trauma brings some degree of both anxiety and depression which is why it can at times be hard to distinguish between them.
During and soon after the trauma, the mind associates surrounding events with the trauma event, which become anxiety triggers. For example, if you experienced trauma from something that happened at work, it’s likely that anything related to work (sitting in traffic, co-worker conversations, answering emails) will stimulate an anxious response or an emotional shutdown.
The good news is, trauma recovery is a highly developed field of treatment that can be extremely effective when done properly. Dealing with your mental health from a trauma-informed framework can help you gradually return back to living in a positive, genuinely content mind.
- Toxic health habits that fuel your stress.
The second, often unaddressed contributor of anxiety and depression is an accumulation of toxic habits which exacerbate the symptoms and triggers of trauma. We tend to think of depression and anxiety as something that happens only in the mind, but in reality they are complex interactions of brain chemicals, hormones, and nutrients in both your brain and body.
Toxic habits are like pouring fuel on the fire of your anxiety and depression. They will exacerbate your triggers dramatically. If you don’t identify and uproot these toxic behaviors, you’ll be continuously fueling your triggers, and never be able to truly address the underlying causes.
People who treat their anxiety & depression as a wake-up call to address their basic health and nutrition habits typically see significantly better results. Studies have shown both anxiety and depression are highly linked to specific nutrient deficiencies (Vitamin D, B Vitamins, Magnesium, and L-theanine, and specific Amino Acids). There’s also a wealth of clinical evidence that demonstrates a significant link between digestive function, and mental health. A huge portion of our body’s neurons is located in the digestive tract.
Toxic habits that have been proven to stimulate anxiety and depression include:
- Use of drugs and alcohol
- Over use of stimulants and caffeine
- Processed foods (particularly processed sugar)
- Environmental stimulants and an abundance of stress and overwhelm
The combination of trauma, plus toxic habits are the underlying causes of most mental health conditions. Addressing them can be so challenging, and most people tend to only address one or the other. The best approach is to address both your underlying trauma and stress, and your health habits simultaneously.
Treating Anxiety & Depression:
Fortunately, there are numerous well-studied, natural approaches that can help to reduce the painful symptoms of anxiety and depression.
The best approach is to address both your mental and physical health simultaneously. Your daily yoga practice and diet changes will work to recondition your body and nervous system to be more relaxed, while therapy and meditation help your mind stay more relaxed. By covering both bases, you are significantly more likely to find lasting change.
While this may seem like a lot of work at first, when you have proper guidance, you should start to see improvements each week, and the process can feel extremely rewarding.
Wisdom members get a personal functional medicine doctor for the entire year, as well as full access to our Foundation of Integrative Healing course. In all, you’ll get over 40 hours of time with doctors for all your functional medicine needs.
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