What is depression?
Depression is a persistent emotional state characterized by negative thoughts and feelings ranging from low self esteem to severe despondency. Symptoms can include fatigue, loss of interest, indecision, loss of sexual drive, melancholy, hopelessness, guilt, insomnia or excessive sleep, flat affect, social withdrawal and suicidal thoughts. Depressions has become a major problem in our modern times and in the United States approximately 17 million Americans suffer true chemical depression each year and over 28 million Americans take antidepressant drugs or anxiolytics (anti-anxiety medication). It can affect people of all races, ages and groups.
There are several types of depression. The most common are:
- Bipolar Disorder/Manic Depression
- Clinical/Major Depression
- Mood Disorder
- Post Partum Depression
- Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Who is at Risk?
You are more likely to experience depression if you:
- Have a family history of depression – this may double or triple your chances of developing this condition
- Are female – for some unknown reason women have nearly twice the risk of developing depression
- Are under stress – for example ending a relationship, losing a family member or close friend or a job can trigger depression in some people
- Are a perfectionist – for some people having unrealistically high expectations of oneself, being unable to accept fault or failure and a constant lack of satisfaction irrespective of performance have been associated with an increased risk of depression
- Have another medical condition such as under-active thyroid – people who have had a heart attack, stroke, cancer or diabetes, for example, have higher than average rates of depression
You may feel sad, not motivated, have difficulty making decisions and may be losing weight. You went to see your doctor who diagnosed you with major depression according to the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). A family medical doctor or a psychiatrist will be more likely to prescribe anti-depressants rather than psychotherapy. The medication may have worked for a while and now it is not working anymore. Now you find yourself facing the same issues and you are searching for alternatives to Paxil. Or, you may not feel good and are seeking help.
In any case, a phone consultation and the symptom questionnaire will help us to make an evaluation and confirm your suspicion or the doctor’s diagnosis. We may propose saliva or urine testing of neurotransmitters, hormones or amino acids.
Conventional Treatment Approaches
Modern psychiatry focuses on manipulating neurotransmitter levels in the brain such as serotonin (which helps regulate emotion, sleep, and appetite) noradrenaline (which is linked to arousal and alertness) and dopamine (which is associated with pleasure and reward). People with depression are known to have lower levels of these chemicals and the theory is that giving drugs that elevate these neurotransmitters can help lift mood. The theory makes sense, but it is not known for sure whether an imbalance in the neurotransmitters are the primary cause of depression or whether other factors such as nutritional deficiencies, toxic exposures, environmental influences, stressful life situations, thinking patterns, or unresolved psycho-emotional issues are the cause for the imbalance of neurotransmitters.
Some of the most popular drugs are SSRI’s (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) such as Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft which increase serotonin. While there are a few people who benefit short term from these medications, many find they stop working and they need to change prescriptions and dosages over time. SSRI’s are often accompanied by a number of undesirable side effects such as nausea, diarrhea, headaches, loss of libido, failure to reach orgasm and erectile problems. These drugs are toxic to the liver and the entire body.
Alternative Treatment Approaches
The most successful treatment approaches to depression address a wide range of potential contributing factors such as nutritional deficiencies or excess, use of prescription or illicit drugs, hypoglycemia, allergies, hormonal balances, environmental factors and psycho-emotional factors.
We offer a multifaceted approach, assessing our client in relation to the major contributing factors. A detailed health history questionnaire along with pertinent medical records is submitted before arrival. The review of the written material is followed by a phone consultation and a preparatory phase may be set up. This preparatory phase may include blood work, diet diary or diet modification. A treatment program is then designed and discussed.
The first step consists of evaluating the physiology of depression and the possibility of neurotransmitter or hormonal deficiencies. We use a wide array of tests both conventional and alternative. We may use the following tests:
Adrenal Stress Index (Read about Adrenal Stress Index testing with DiagnosTechs Lab)
Hormonal – Female Hormone Panel / Male Hormonal Panel
Heavy Metal Testing
Vitamin D levels (measured through blood test)
The second part of our examination looks at any possible contributing factors, unresolved issues, suppressed emotions and psychological profile. Examples are:
Family, friends and pet losses
Job status, financial losses
History of childhood trauma or more recent trauma
History of sexual, emotional or physical abuse
History of drug or alcohol overuse
Spiritual assessment: Lack of purpose, loneliness, isolation, despair, attachments and belief system
Mental and cognitive assessment: confusion, suffering, and pain, other psychiatric illness
Coexisting chronic physical illness
Self-image, unresolved conflicts, lack of support
Possible post-traumatic stress syndrome, cortisol imbalance, anxiety and fear
3. Weaning off your anti-depressants safely with specific protocols to balance brain chemistry
Our oral supplement regimen uses specific amino acids such as 5- HTP, L-Tryptophan, Sam-e and Tyrosine to balance out serotonin and dopamine levels. Vitamins and minerals, in particular B vitamins and trace minerals will provide nutritional support for the brain and nervous system. Herbal medicines such as St. John’s Wort and Macuna Pruriens will support healthy serotonin and dopamine levels.
Exercise therapy (3 times per week). Comparative studies have shown exercise to be as successful as pharmaceutical anti-depressants in the treatment of depression. Our exercise therapist will adjust to your level of physical fitness and design a program for you only, including aerobic and strength training exercises.
Yoga: two times per week helps with stress management and spiritual connectedness.
Nutritional IV therapy quickly replenishes the body and the brain from deficiencies, boost the immune system and speed the process of recovery.
4. Detoxification to improve liver function and alertness
- Raw organic foods to increase vitality, will to live and connection with nature
- Green juice to balance pH and re-mineralize the body
- Coffee Enemas to help in the elimination of toxins mobilized by the raw diet
- FAR Infrared Sauna to eliminate chemicals and heavy metals
- Oral chelation with NDF or DMSA to mobilize and eliminate heavy metals
5. Mind-Body Therapies
- Introspection and journaling
- Laughter therapy, humor
- Reichian Breathwork
- Emotional Freedom Technique
- Massage Therapy/Bodywork
- Gestalt Therapy
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
6. Recreational Therapy and Adventure Programming
Recreational therapy focuses on creative activities such as drawing or painting, crafts, music and adventure programming. We plan trips during the weekend such as Mauna Kea Summit and Observatory, hikes in the Volcano National Park, Lava Viewing, visit to the zoo, gardening or shopping.
Self-guided activities may include: walking or biking to thermal warm ponds for swimming and Watsu, snorkeling in the tide pools, hiking up the lava coastline, walking in Lava Tree Park.
7. Sleep and Rest
- Reestablishing a healthy sleeping pattern: going to sleep and staying asleep, creating sleep rituals, quiet and peaceful atmosphere
- Reprogramming the brain for positive thinking rather than worrying
|Early Morning||Sun Therapy|
Self Guided Meditation
Doctor’s visit / counseling
Green Juice Hammock Therapy
Self Guided Activities: Walk / Swim /Snorkel / Read
Additional Bought Sessions & Therapies / Massage / Exercise Therapy
FAR Infrared Sauna
Journaling / Reading / Games / Educational DVD