Written by Dr. Currey

Anxiety and depression are increasingly common complaints.  Some estimates put anxiety rates as high as 18% of the US population, and estimates for depression are between 5.7 – 11.6%.  Generally put, it is very likely that you or someone you know has or will struggled with these issues.

We at Bridges Family Wellness highly recommend anyone struggling with these issues to seek the care of a trained mental health practitioner to discuss pharmacological options for the treatment of moderate to severe symptoms.

This article will focus on how physical and mental health are interconnected, how to optimize physical health to support mental health, and talk about a few of the supplements we use as first line therapy with mild to moderate anxiety and depression.

Poor mental health = poor physical health  &  Poor physical health = poor mental health

Health is rarely simplistic nor cut and dry, but I have rarely found instances where the above statement is false.  With chronic pain or disability depression and anxiety abound; I know this from personal experience, and as a doctor, I see this on a day to day basis with my patients.  What is often overlooked is the fact that when one is struggling with anxiety or depression, physical health often is overlooked.  This can take the form of eating poorly, not exercising, bouts of insomnia, having chronically high levels of stress hormones circulating, and more.  Separating mental from physical health does not work well, we need both in balance for optimum wellness.

Some of our favorite treatments:

  1. First and foremost, making sure nutritional deficiencies and blood sugar regulation has been addressed.  Depression can result from fatigue associated with low or high blood sugar, anemia, low vitamin D levels, or malnutrition.
  2. Exercise – this is a huge part of treatment for mood disorders and you will find it all over in the scientific studies.  Minimally, we need to be up and moving for 20 minutes a day to promote circulation of blood through the body and up to the brain.
  3. Address and treat insomnia.  Do you snore?  Look into a sleep study to rule out sleep apnea.
  4. Review current medications, is depression or anxiety a side effect of your current medications?  Be sure to talk to your doctor about this to be sure your current regimen is working and not contributing to your symptoms.
  5. Incorporate stress management strategies into your life.  We all have stress, but some of us react differently to it than others.  This is a huge self improvement project and takes years – mindfulness practices can be very helpful here.
  6. Eliminate foods that are causing more harm than good.  Sugar, alcohol, and processed foods are where we start, but as natural healers, we have quite a few more suggestions here.  Our acupuncturist will also make recommendations based upon the season of the year.
  7. Herbs:  St John’s wort has gotten a lot of attention here, but it has also been demonized for interfering with medications such as antidepressants and birth control.  While St. John’s wort does have this effect, so do many other medications and foods.  Be sure to talk with your doctor before starting any herbs; a doctor trained in both pharmaceuticals and herbal medicine is your best bet.  Some of our favorites include black currant bud, rhodiola, and ginseng.
  8. Supplements:  Magnesium, Vitamin D, B complex, L-Theanine, omega 3 oils, probiotics, and the list can go on.  For acute anxiety, we have also found rescue remedy to be very helpful as well as a single remedy homeopathic specifically chosen for you.
  9. Counseling, journaling, acupuncture, orthobionomy, or other therapies are also very helpful to reestablish balance, reduce stress, and to help you get back on track.

Remember, if you feel your mood is getting stuck in states of anxiety or depression, there are many things both physical and mental that can cause this.  We should be able to feel the highs and lows of life, but we shouldn’t get stuck there.  If you do, reach out for help talk to your doctor, a friend, or family member.  Reaching out for help is not weakness; it is resilience.  And if you are feeling like hurting yourself or know someone else who is,  call the suicide prevention hotline to speak with trained staff to help you find the support you need.