I am sorry if you are suffering with depression. After many years of problems coping with this difficult condition myself, I reached a crisis point. I had to take stock of my life, learn how to cope with a chronic mood disorder and the 15 involuntary and painful symptoms of depression, anxiety and even (rare) periods of hypomania. I had to face the facts about mental healthcare, assess the quality of services offered by my healthcare professionals and revise my treatment objectives. I had to ask and answer some hard questions, overcome my self-doubts, face family skepticism and cope with the stigma of mental illness.
Paradoxically, I seemed to get worse while taking the ‘usual’ synthetic antidepressant medications. Talk-talks taught me that my patterns of thinking and feeling needed improving but therapy didn’t end my depression or ease my anxiety. My doctors and therapists seemed sincere and appeared helpful. And yet, somehow, they didn’t seem to understand that I wanted to be well.
I chose to learn about mood disorders and find competent mental healthcare professionals who knew how to help patients restore normal mood without adverse effects. Doing this involved an extensive review of scientific and medical literature while searching for valid medical information about positive possibilities for helping depressed people restore normal mood.
Another depressed person mentioned orthomolecular medicine. I knew nothing about ‘orthomolecular’ medicine and wrongly assumed that whatever it was, it likely would not help me. I was worse than skeptical! I was wrong! In time, orthomolecular methods worked well for me and I wrote a Layman’s Guide to Orthomolecular Healthcare References.
As an example, I read Dr. P. Slagle’s excellent book, The Way Up From Down and found it helpful. Using information from her book, other orthomolecular healthcare books and a local health food store owner’s advice, I tried supplements such as herbs, vitamins, minerals and amino acids: one after another, alone and in combinations. After months of experimentation, I learned which non-toxic supplements and changes in diet work well for me. I found medical books which explain how certain supplements are known to help depressed people become well. I do not suggest that you or anyone should do this without medical supervision. I do not suggest that anyone should stop or change their antidepressant or other medications without medical supervision.
Anyone can read and learn about positive possibilities to discuss with their healthcare professionals. For instance, modest morning doses of vitamin B6 with small amounts of zinc and manganese can stabilize certain neurotransmitters and other brain ‘fuels’. They helped me. A ‘herbal’ extract of gingko biloba can help some depressions. It is routinely prescribed in Europe by conventional doctors for depression and anxiety. Gingko works well for me but I had to learn which brand was best for me (Kruger) and how much, when and how often to take it (1/3 capsule - morning, noon and late afternoon). Some depressed people get well taking a herb called St. John’s Wort (flower). It did not help my bipolar II mood disorder condition as much as gingko.
I learned that some natural supplements can be ineffective or even make depression worse! Wouldn’t you know it, when I tried those, I got worse. It was frustrating to get worse taking a natural supplement that is recommended for depression! Some peoples’ depression involves high histamine levels and in their cases, too much vitamin B3 can make them worse and even very small doses of folic acid supplements can make them a lot worse! Both made me worse, however, they may help some depressed people cope with their depression if their brain imbalance does not involve high histamine levels. (according to references)
I learned that we are all individualsn terms of personality (which is obvious) and in terms of brain biochemistry (which is not so obvious). There was no quick fix for me and no single pill solved all my mood disorder problems. I did find a wealth of practical, helpful scientific and medical information. For the most part, I have been stable for the past three years. I still have mild symptoms from time to time and they get worse when I get over tired or over stressed. I am more stable now than I had been for many years!
Orthomolecular Healthcare References - A Layman’s Guide
The 1999 edition is available now. I donated 50 copies to the annual conference of the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine in April in Ottawa. It was well received. The Guide includes a flyer for a tv show about orthomolecular medicine which was narrated by Margot Kidder. Her manic depression condition responded well to orthomolecular treatment. I appeared in that show with 8 former mental patients and 6 doctors who explain orthomolecular medicine.
The Guide also shares my story and my report of interviews with 50 depressed people. This overview summarizes the experiences of people who are struggling to cope with depression. Few seem to find restorative mental healthcare. Consider my anecdote as only one person’s story. My information will likely not answer your medical questions, but it illustrates how a person with a mood disorder can learn, ask for help and find restorative mental healthcare.
It is important to find proper mental healthcare. Please do not rely on a layman’s guide or another person’s story. Possible causes of depression can involve a range of factors including genetic, biological, medical, psychological, social, transitions, grief, and learned helplessness etc. We live different lives in different places with different people; we eat different foods and we see different surroundings. Some situations are more stressful than others. As fallible human beings, we try to cope. We all have problems; some are harder than others and some can deplete our brain ‘fuels’. We can learn how to do better. We can find competent medical care. We can find restorative mental healthcare. We can become appropriately assertive. We can improve our social situations. We can ask for help. Our darkest depressions can be restored to normal mood!
I recommend that you find a doctor who will give you a thorough check-up, take a proper medical and mental history, give you biological and psychological tests, consider your family medical and mental history, pay attention to your symptoms, document the effects (good and adverse) of your medications and help you restore normal mood without adverse effects.
I look forward to hearing about your positive progress. As Dr. Slagle’s book indicates, when you are on the right track toward recovery from depression, you can expect slow but steady progress. First a good few hours, then a good afternoon, then a good day, then a good week, then two good weeks and so on. In between, you can expect ups and downs along the way.
If you are depressed, don’t quit on yourself. You can get better!
PS - if I can get better after 28 years of mood disorder problems, episodes of depression anxiety and hypomania etc., anyone can!
PPS - One day at a time, depressed people can be cautiously optimistic about the possibilities for restoring normal mood. We can learn and shift toward the positive. Supplements that work for me may not work for you so remember to keep looking for the right doctor who will help you by diagnosing your condition properly, prescribing appropriate medications, documenting your symptoms and monitoring the effects of your medications. A competent physician can help you use orthomolecular supplements, adjust your diet, consider brain allergies, identify underlying medical illness. A therapist can assess your lifestyle and help you correct your personal and social problems. The bottom line is that you can find restorative mental healthcare and you can get help with medical problems and other situations which may be depleting your brain ‘fuels’.