Mental health issues are on the rise and many of us suffer from it from time to time, whether it’s just mild anxiety, or full blown depression or bipolar. Suicide is also becoming seriously common as you can read here.
Today is the 3rd birthday of the One Wave surfing/mental health community, which the amazing Grant Trebilico started, helping to get rid of the taboo around mental health issues and empower people to speak up if they are not feeling ok and seek counselling.
Everyone is different so there is no one solution. There are many debated reasons for mental health including:
- Inflammation from chronic infections, bad diet and toxins in our environment
- Chemical, hormonal or neuronal imbalances
- Past childhood trauma
- Stress and gut issues
- Genetics; Environment
- Disease; Motivational state
I have suffered from depression in the past, and again more recently, and I find it is definitely worse when I am unbalanced, stressed, too busy and therefore eating badly and not connected to my body but in my head.
As a fairly new Naturopath, I am no expert and there are times when antidepressant medication is required or you will need to see a specialist.
However, during my experiences and studies, here are some tips (including a list of natural herbs and supplements at the end) that helped me when I was feeling down or anxious and stabilised my mental health illness before it got worse.
- Yoga and meditation and pranayama (breathing techniques)
- Yoga has definitely helped me to manage my moods, calm the mind in anxiety and depression and to release any tension building up in the body and mind
- Having a yoga studio as a second home to go to brings connection, purpose and community into your life and reduces loneliness, anxiety and depression
- Improve diet
- Diet is very important as a poor diet can lead to a lack of essential nutrients key to good mental health
- Poor diet choices lead to inflammation, poor immunity, hormonal imbalances that can all lead to mental health disorders
- Reduce inflammatory sugar, gluten, preservatives, excess dairy, artificial sweeteners, excess meat and caffeine, alcohol, smoking.
- Vitamin B rich green leafy veg, legumes, brewers yeast, nuts, seeds, good fat avocado and eggs, fermented foods, sprouted grains
- Omega 3 rich fish and chia seeds, comforting root vegetables, soups, bone broths for essential minerals and vitamins
- Potassium rich bananas, oranges and potatoes but supplementation might be required if depressed, however it is wise to chat to a doctor or naturopath as this can interact with medications
- A great way to meet new people and feel great as you are making a difference by helping others
- Social interaction is key
- Just getting out with family might help and see close friends if a large group is too much and HUGS!
- Surfing is great as OneWave have shown, whereby Grant manages his depression and his ‘funks’ by getting out for that ‘one wave’ that makes his day a whole lot better
- Vital to increase a feeling of well-being, gets you outside in nature and releases feel-good endorphins
- Start slow as it is often hard to get motivated when feeling down
- Start with some brisk walking in nature or by the healing ocean
- Reach out for help
- See a doctor for a referral/Medicare mental health plan to a counsellor, psychotherapist or psychiatrist to talk through past traumas and hurts.
- Black dog institute also offers some great advice
- Naturopaths can help to manage any symptoms naturally without side effects of medication
- Read inspirational books to increase positivity and hope i.e. Brene Brown, Ekhart Tolle, Abraham Hicks.
- Write a journal to help to process unconscious thoughts and let them come up so not suppressed.
- Dance to Music
- Animals are also amazing and bring so much unconditional love. There is research that proves that having a pet can really help reduce the incidence of depression. I saw a flat with pet bunnies.. sold! 🙂
- Nature is also key. Seeing trees, the ocean, mountains, rivers and lakes all help to make us feel more connected and like we belong and can reduce anxiety and stress.
- Be kind!
- There can be some really tough times and when these happen, be kind. If you just want to lie in bed, do so, watch a funny movie and just let the feelings come up and feel them and be ok with them.. have a cry, but try to not judge yourself for feeling this way
- And, most importantly, it’s ok not to be ok and ask for help. 🙂
- Healing herbs and supplements (suggestions only to reduce symptoms of mental health issues; consult a naturopath or doctor prior to taking):
- Alpha lipoic acid (ALA)
- is neuroprotective and great for depression/neurological disorders
- is essential for the nervous system and in low GABA and excess dopamine and adrenaline or serotonin, reducing anxiety, aggression (1)
- Fish oils
- full of omega 3s, critical for proper functioning of neurotransmitters
- is a great antioxidant which is great for reducing heavy metal toxicity that can leak to the brain causing fogginess, depression and anxiety
- Is a precursor for GABA helping calmness and relaxation in anxiety (1)
- SAMe (S-Adenosylmethionine)
- Increases glutathione, a potent antioxidant reducing free radicals and toxins and serotonin both helping our mental health
- N.B. Not to be taken with antidepressant medications and you should consult a doctor before taking (2)
- Is a precursor for dopamine, great in depression to improve mood, mental exhaustion and addictive tendencies (1)
- Increases B vitamins and serotonin for improved mood; and melatonin to help insomnia, migraines, chronic pain, hypertension and anxiety (1)
- 5 HTP is a supplement derivative form of tryptophan and great to increase serotonin and thus enhance mood
- DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone)
- a hormone that depletes over 35 and enhances mood and well being as is the building block for oestrogen and testosterone.
- N.B. Consult a doctor or naturopath as it is contraindicated in some circumstances, especially in some hormonal cancers etc.
- B vitamins
- Are great for stress, low mood, anxiety, depression; help in low acetycholine and GABA to help relax nervous system and for insomnia (1)
- B6 increases serotonin and is low in alcohol users and women on the pill (2)
- B12 is essential as effects the myelin sheath of the brain, helping in mood disorders, and B8 is also great for brain function and depression
- Vitamin C and calcium
- Affect neurotransmitters and nerve endings thus helping in mood disorders
- Is great for anxiety, calming mind and body
- Vitamin D
- For immunity, neural cells, seasonal depression (SAD)(3)
- Adrenal herbal support to counter effects of excess cortisol
- Licorice, Rhodiola, Rehmannia, Withania and Panax and Siberian ginseng are all beautiful herbs for adrenal fatigue
- Low when stressed causing neurotransmitter balance and depression (2)
- Bio Concepts
- Gary Null ‘A Natural Approach to Overcoming Depression
- Hechtman L, ‘Clinical Approach to Nutrition’