How Can I Live the Life I Want To Live While Managing My Anxiety/Depression?

Depression, anxiety, and other emotional problems are things that we wish would “just go away.” The frustration in dealing with such problems is that they tend to last longer than we think is appropriate or comfortable. We find that our life goals have had to change as a result of these things. It helps to understand a few key issues in order to live the life you want while managing these problems.   Read more

How NOT to Talk to Your Doctor

In order to understand how to best talk with your doctor (or psychiatrist, psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, or other medical provider), you need to know one very important concept: Your doctor wants to help you!   Read more

Supplements and Mental Health

Many people are interested in natural methods to help offset the symptoms of mental illness. And who wouldn’t be? As such, many people are interested in seeing what might work before (or even while) pursuing a non-natural solution. Below are some of the more common supplements used.

The difficulty in deciding what is useful by means of anecdotal evidence is one of problems. Primarily, the two issues of correlation does not imply causation paired with the placebo effect. However, when the medical industry has money invested in pharmaceuticals, very few (if any) research is done on non-prescriptive solutions.

L-Methylfolate

Folic acid is one of the B vitamins and comes from citrus fruits and leafy green vegetables. It helps your body make new red blood cells to carry oxygen. If you don’t have enough red blood cells, you have anemia, which can make you feel weak, tired, lightheaded, grouchy or cause you to be forgetful or have trouble concentrating. The body breaks down folic acid into L-methylfolate, which is the active form of the vitamin. Unfortunately, some people are unable to break down folic acid into L-Methylfolate. For these people, taking a folic acid supplement in the already converted form of L-Methylfolate may be a more effective means for treating folate deficiency. Most health food stores do not carry L-Methylfolate; those that do tend to offer it in extremely small dosages (such as 400 mcg). Higher dosages (such as 5-15 mg) can be ordered online at MethylPro. Alternatively, you can get a doctor’s prescription and order it through Deplin, although most insurance companies won’t cover the cost as it is classified as a supplement.

Omega-3

Having adequate levels of Omega-3 are essential to proper health and have been shown to affect concentration, learning, higher dopamine levels and increased brain neuron growth. Additional research has shown a connection between overall mental health and Omega-3. It’s important to chose Omega-3 supplements that contain enough eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), as these forms are better absorbed by the body.

Probiotics

There is some evidence that the use of probiotics may encourage the production of serotonin, however this association is implied at best and not directly correlated. Probiotics must be kept refrigerated and discarded after their expiration date. Many people prefer to take these after a course of antibiotics.

SAM-E

Depression can be impacted by taking doses of SAM-E. These pills are sealed individually in foil as exposure to air can affect their potency. SAM-E should never be taken while using another antidepressant due to significant complicating factors.

St. John’s Wort

While the research has been somewhat contradictory, the general consensus is that St. John’s Wort plays a role in depression, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive behaviors. However, it should not be used while taking another antidepressant due to complicating factors.

Vitamin B-6

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) is involved making the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine, which are chemicals that transmit signals in the brain. Vitamin B6 is also involved in the formation of important nerve cell protein layers. Foods like poultry, pork, nuts and beans contain high levels of vitamin B6. Symptoms of vitamin B6 deficiency include a lack of energy and can cause health problems affecting the nerves, skin, mucous membranes and circulatory system.

Vitamin B-12

B-12 supports nerve tissue and brain cell development and promotes better sleep. It comes from animal products, including meat, milk, cheese, and eggs. If you don’t have enough B-12, you can experience weakness, tiredness or light-headedness. Most B-12 supplements are provided in the form of cyanocobalamin. However, the methylcobalamin version of B-12 (Methyl B-12) is better absorbed and retained by the body than other forms of B12.

Vitamin D3

If you live in areas without sufficient sunlight, suffer from milk allergies or adhere to a strict vegan diet, you may be at risk for vitamin D3 deficiency. Known as the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D3 is produced by the body in response to skin being exposed to sunlight. It is also occurs naturally in a few foods, including some fish, fish liver oils, and egg yolks. The most accurate way to determine if you are vitamin D3 deficient is through a lab test. Low levels of vitamin D3 are associated with increased feelings of depression. While supplements can help, the best method for acquiring vitamin D3 is through direct sunlight. Tanning beds and other forms of artificial lighting don’t offer enough D3 to be considered a viable alternative.

Recommendations

The issue of supplements and their use continues to evolve as we learn more and more about the biological components to mental health. Supplements can be just as dangerous as prescription medications when used in the wrong dosages or combinations. For example, vitamin D3 supplements are known to cause an increase in certain types of kidney stones (whereas sunlight does not). As such, specific approaches and dosage recommendations are beyond the scope of this article. Don’t approach supplements with a cavalier attitude and never believe something you’ve read on the Internet (including this article) without doing adequate research. The bottom line: Always consult your medical doctor before making decisions on which supplements to use.

Photo credit: Pixabay/Val-gb

Intensity, Anger, and Men

The psychology of men is hard for both men and women to understand. Some women think that men are chronically intense, angry and controlling. Men insist that they have no idea why women think that they are always intense angry or controlling in interactions. Men feel misunderstood in their efforts to be helpful.   Read more

How to Choose a Good Psychiatrist

At some point, you may find yourself in need of a good psychiatrist. There are three critical rules in doing this. Understanding the terminology in distinguishing between a psychiatrist, psychologist, and psychiatric mental nurse practitioner is the most important step. Setting your expectations appropriately and not sabotaging your approach is second. Third is the rule of not forgetting your ultimate goal.   Read more

Caretaker Burnout, Compassion, and Fatigue

When a member of the family experiences problems, an illness, injury or disability, we tend to forget the impact that any of these problems have on other members of the family. Even short-term crises and problems can drain us as we try to be strong in our efforts to be caring and helpful.   Read more

Learning to Endure Conflict, Tension & Emptiness

One of the most important things that human beings can learn to do in life is to endure the hard times. This is not always easy because we are always hoping that things will be comfortable, easy or enjoyable. Other times, we just want to have something to keep us busy. The reality of life is that these things do not always happen. As a result, it is important to think about a few issues as part of learning how to survive.   Read more

Adults Who Grew Up in Dysfunctional Families

Therapists have long known that when we have grown up in unstable, disruptive, and dysfunctional families end up having similar characteristics. As a result, they end up having traits that can directly affect their potential for having full and enjoyable lives.   Read more

Feeling Discouraged, Lost, and Depressed

When we become discouraged, feel lost, are confused, and feel overwhelmed, it is easy to feel like we want all the pain and sadness to stop.  We want to run, to feel no more, and to have our upset, anger, and sadness removed quickly.  Understanding a few issues might be of help at these difficult times.   Read more

Growing Up with Emotional Abuse

When children’s development of self-esteem, social skills or capacity for intimacy is jeopardized by their parents’ behavior or neglect, they may be the victim of emotional abuse. Whether it is alcohol or other drugs, mental illness, compulsive behavior (eating, working, religion, etc.), or any one of a thousand other things that deplete a family’s emotional life, the results are the same.   Read more

How Do I Know if I am Depressed?

One of the most common disorders in the world is depression. It is the “common cold” of emotional disorders and no one is exempt from it. We can deny and run depression, but at a cost. Whenever we try to deny feelings, hold things in, it will come out in some manner, whether through physical or emotional symptoms. Through counseling and therapy, we can “grow from these feelings” if we take the time to “look and examine” what this means for our life’s “journey.”   Read more