Depressed or Anxious and Not Sure Why?

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Photo by Naomi August on Unsplash

If you have been battling some depression or anxiety lately and don’t know why–unless you are suicidal, before you jump on the “I must have a chemical imbalance” bandwagon and ask your doctor for a prescription of Prozac, check yourself in the this area. It could be a possible cause that you can address right away. 

How’s Your Nutrition?

There are a wealth of resources, scientifically backed that shows the mind and body connection and the significant role nutrition plays. Food is our medicine. It is. If you are not eating right, and especially if you have not eaten right in years, the accumulative effects can wreak havoc on your gut, your immune system, your hormones, your brain (including your neurotransmitters), and organs….the list is endless.

If we were to look at the health issues that are plaguing this country, depression and anxiety is one of them. How is it that in a country where wealth is abundant, where most people can live the American dream if they put in the effort, that we are the most depressed and anxious people in the world? This is a complex issue with many layers, but one of the most common among people I have met is nutrition. I go into this in more depth and also cover other layers in another blog. 

The American diet is filled with food that causes inflammation. Studies now show that inflammation is the root cause of DISEASE. It is your bodies natural reaction to damage in its attempt to heal itself. But when we are inflamed day after day for years….the consequences pile up so high it can be difficult for many to pinpoint the cause. It wasn’t until I reduced intake of inflammatory foods that I started seeing symptoms I assumed were unrelated or just normal because I had them so long now for the first time, disappear.

Here’s the Gyst:

  • If you eat inflammatory foods like white flour and cow dairy among others, you need to detox from this. inflammation prevents our gut from making serotonin. Serotonin is used in our brain to feel happy and calm. Less serotonin causes anxiety and depression.
  • If you eat empty calories–snacky foods you buy in the dry sections of the grocery store and not around the perimeter (fruits, vegetables, herbs, meat, and whole grains) you are depriving your body of essential minerals and vitamins it needs to make your body function as God intended.
  • If you have taken antibiotics in your life and have not gone on a long-term recovery and maintenance plan of multi-strain flora to replenish your gut with healthy bacteria, you are only exasperating the problems that the first two cause. We digest the food in our intestines through the help of healthy bacteria that live in our gut. This helps us break it down into usable parts for our body to function, it helps reduce any inflammation caused by the bad food, and helps our body eliminate toxins and used hormones.

The research and explanation about how all of this works is abundant. If you are a reader or want to learn more, I highly suggest any one of these books. 

There are also a variety of supplements to jump-start your healing and supplement your healthy nutritional intake as you transition into a life of well-being and healthy eating. Check out my blog where I go into much more depth on diet and supplements here.

I have battled clinical depression and anxiety most of my life. I tried counseling. I tried prescription anti-depressants, but as soon as I was off, it was back again. It was not until the last 10 years have I been able to finally uncover the role my diet and nutrition played in these feelings. When I eat right and take the supplements I need to fill in those gaps, I don’t struggle with it. When I start cheating again and getting out of my good habits, those feelings come back. Some people are just more susceptible to these things. It can run in families too. My dad’s side of the family is filled with anxiety and gut issues. And the more people I talk to, the more I see it everywhere. Test my theory out. Give it 8 weeks.  And I’d recommend this while on meds as well if you are on them with the intention to one day be free from those drugs and be healed. 

Then please comment below and let me know what you discover. It takes 6 weeks for meds to start working. With diet and supplements you should start seeing changes within 2 weeks. 

If you are already taking meds, try this while staying on the meds and then talk with your doctor about trying to wean slowly off to see what happens. Only do this if your trusted doctor approves. Or get a second opinion. There are some levels of depression that you need to really be careful with. Meds may be necessary for some as you work on complete healing through diet and other possible factors. 
I’ll be writing a future blog on those other factors like environment and stress. Until then, happy eating.

 

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Perspective: My First Month as a Full-Time Entrepreneurial Wife and Mom

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Enjoying Social Media Expert Wife benefits at the Bahia Resort while hubby spoke for Social Media Day SD.

Well it has been one month since I’ve been home from my teaching job and boy has it been mostly…….very hard. Ugh. I said it. Doesn’t mean I regret it. I just need to get through the transition. Quitting a salaried full-time position to be a full-time entrepreneurial wife and mom is a difficult transition. It’s not the same as quitting a job to be a full-time mom and wife (which is already a challenge in itself) because now I still have to work while doing the rest all at the same time. And my job is completely different than teaching high school English. It’s a completely different beast.

One of the current struggles I’m having is learning to give up my summer. I’m 37 years old and I have ALWAYS had summers off. I had summers off in grade school, high school, college, and then I became a teacher and I continued to have summer’s off. But now this summer, I’m not on vacation. I work from home. Although, to help me put things in perspective, I did get to enjoy an awesome time at the Bahia Resort last weekend with my kiddos while Owen spoke there for Social Media Day.

IMG_3079But on a typical week, I’m helping Owen with his business doing the tedious side work he shouldn’t be doing but has not been able to find an employee or virtual assistant to do it well or for any decent length of time. No one cares for the business the way we care for the business. I’m the best person for the job. And then I’m also writing scripts and recording videos for our Thriving, Sexy Marriage ministry.

I was really overwhelmed by all I’m learning the first 2 weeks but it’s getting a little easier the last two weeks. It has been “all Greek to me.” Learning Quickbooks, learning how to create “marketing tunnels” and use “auto-responder emails”, and refurbishing video into blogs, writing scripts, making gif memes, and recording myself without using a teleprompter like I’m used to….it’s a lot.

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our first podcast for thrivingsexymarriage was a hit and so much fun!

I cried a lot the first two weeks. More tears the first weeks then I’ve cried in months. There are many reasons. Everything is new. I was messing up on things. Everything takes longer. AND I’m not used to having my husband as my boss. (Whoa–that is hard for a woman who pretty much closes the doors to her classroom and teaches as she pleases). Because of the preoccupation with all that, I haven’t been speaking Owen’s love language, and when that happens, it doesn’t energize him to speak mine, which then doesn’t energize me to speak his, and…… you get the picture. We are marriage coaches, we know what is going on when we are not doing what we are supposed to be doing. Sometimes not always in the moment, but when fed up with it, we can look at it and figure it out. Haha. So– we figured it out and we are back on track. This week we have been two little love birds—-on the same page, speaking each other’s love languages, and unified. Yay for victory #1!

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Jameson and Kanan rekindling their love for legos.

Still working on victory #2–mastering working and taking care of kids on summer break all a the same time. So how do I do all that? I don’t know. I’m still trying to figure it out. I have about 30 hours worth of work I need to do each week to get everything done and so I’m doing 2-hour shifts here, then breaking for lunch and taking the kids out for an errand, and then doing another 2-hour shift there and trying to complete the third 2-hour shift at night after they go to bed, but not every night.

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Benny is so loving to his sister

The struggle is finding activities that keep the kids occupied for the 2-hour-shifts. The videos have taken the longest amount of time because I’m still learning how to set up the set and test equipment, then there’s practicing lines, and then recording. We’ve had two or three recording days where we worked for 3 hours straight and the kids just had to watch like two movies back to back. I felt terrible. So I really want to tighten that time and I know I can in time as this type of work becomes more second nature to me. I did enroll them in three different VBS’s in North County. So that will give me some time between 9-12 to work with fewer distractions and give them an opportunity to learn and have fun. We go to Utah for 10 days as well and then its just a week or two after before school starts. So the VBS programs will definitely help.

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me and my friend Carmen–yay for birthdays!

Still, I’m finding that my belief that I’d have time to visit my friends or have playdates or take 2 hour breaks for day trips with my kids is just not happening. Especially when we have scheduled karate and soccer practices taking up late afternoon time after I finish the work for the day. Oh and not more house keeper so I need to do that. With 4 kids home, the house gets messy fast, and every task for the business also takes longer due to distractions– someone is hungry for snacks, someone hit someone, someone is not wearing underpants (yes I have 1 free spirit–guess who?), someone fell and needs a bandaid…you know the drill.

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a third of my bunco group! Yay for friends and chocolate!

Still, weekends and some evenings I have had some great moments. We had a birthday party for Jameson a couple of weeks ago and I got to see friends and family then and also had some friends over for the 4th of July and had a great time. I also continue my monthly Bunco group on the last Sunday of the month. While my weekly bible study group is on summer vacation, I have started going to a bimonthly art group at my church that meets in the evenings…so again, it’s all about perspective. It’s not how I envisioned it, but I’m still getting some friend/adult time in other ways.

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Scotty and I in the cabanas at the resort for Social Media Day

This is why I keep reminding myself it’s about perspective…not like I expected but still good– So while I feel like I’m not getting the amount of time in with my kids that I had envisioned and even wondered if I actually got more time with them when I was a teacher, I did the calculations. Yes, I actually sat down with a calculator and figured out that as a stay-at home-working mom with the schedule I currently have, even while working through summer, I will still have 480 hours a year more time with my kids then if I worked away from home as a teacher. That is twenty, full 24-hour-days more or forty actual-day-time days more each year. So that is awesome and helps put things in perspective.

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Babysitting my nephews a few weeks ago was a blast . This is little Caleb with my daughter, Scotland and I

Owen also gave me some pointers (He’s good at that) ….to start looking at the tasky activities with the kids as those moments to create connections with them and connect. Driving the kids on an errand can be memorable. Breakfast and lunch can be memorable if I’m using it to teach one of them how to cook something, for example. Even washing dishes after dinner with the kids can be an opportunity for fun or laughter. So I just need to be present in those moments and not see them as just tasks.  So that helps me feel better. As I start moving through my duties more efficiently, it will naturally start creating more open spaces for activities with my kids mid-day. I’m going to try to take them on a trip to the library this Friday. We shall see. 🙂

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Scotty loves snails

So if you have any tips, working from home moms, I’d appreciate it. Would love encouragement, reality checks, you name it. I need it. I have felt pretty pouty and selfish the last couple of weeks but am getting better, knowing this is the right choice.

I just need to get my groove so that it flows. I need to get more organized and consistent. And I need to choose joy even in times of difficult transition.

I started thinking the last couple of days after I realized I was doing what my dad called “stinkin’ thinkin’ and I thought– everyone has something to complain about. Yes, I have lots to complain about over the last couple of weeks. Am I some sad victim that has it so much worse than everyone else? Sure there are women out there who don’t have to work and can enjoy playdates and coffee chats with friends and take their kids to Lego land once a week. But they also may have a husband who drinks too much or is into pornography, a mother they don’t talk to anymore, or they struggle with health problems…. there is ALWAYS something someone can complain about. So do I just sit in this negativity only seeing what I didn’t expect and how hard it is and develop a grumpy, woe-is-me spirit about me? Or do I choose joy? Do I choose to see the blessings even if it is not all I expected? Even if I didn’t get all that I had envisioned initially? We ALL have something to complain about. I don’t want to be that person. So I know its silly because I’m writing this blog, complaining, right? Yes…this is my revised version of a huge vent I initially wrote 2 weeks ago….but I’m hoping that in this revised state you see my recognition for the need of proper perspective.

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Playing “Maricela” at my friend, Laurel’s LulaRoe booth at the fair. 

As I was looking through my photos to post in this blog I was reminded of many happy moments during this difficult transition. Small moments playing with my kids, our hotel stay at the Bahia this last Thursday and Friday, an opportunity for me to help serve my friend Laurel at her booth at the fair, some Bunco fun with friends, Jameson’s birthday where I got to spend time with friends and family, and yesterday we had friends over for the 4th of July.  So I decided to add these photos throughout so you can see that despite my emotional struggles through this transition, I’m just a big whiny baby and am blessed beyond measure 🙂

It’s all about perspective. I never thought it would be easy. I didn’t think it would be this hard. But that is okay. There are many blessings and I will improve my groove and gain so much more. And everything will get easier. So there is my unpoetical, cadenceless conclusion. But its the plain truth.

Thanks for reading. 🙂 Here are some books I want to read to help me get better at this. Have you ready any of them?

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The bay at the Bahia Resort looks small on camera under the panoramic lens but is so much bigger in person! You can’t see all the little shells in the sand from your perspective, but little Benny was mesmerized by all the sea shells in the sand that he could see from his. See…perspective!

12 Ways to Reduce Depression and Anxiety through Diet and Supplements (No MEDS).

Most people who struggle with anxiety also struggle with bouts of depression as well. And if you ask people who struggle with anxiety or depression if they have digestive issues, they will say often yes. Interesting correlation, but does it mean anything?

Most people think that the receptors for the neurotransmitters responsible for our emotions (serotonin, neuroepinephrine, and dopamine) are primarily in our brain. The big one seen to really affect anxiety levels is serotonin. Sure they are in our brain, but where else are they? And where are they made? The answer is– IN THE GUT.

Ever wonder why you get that “gut feeling”? Your stomach and intestines are lined with serotonin receptors and serotonin is made there. So if you have digestive issues, do you see how that could possibly lead to problems making enough serotonin and receiving enough serotonin to maintain your stress and happiness levels?

OUR GUT IS ESSENTIAL TO OUR EMOTIONAL AND PHYSICAL WELL-BEING. Eighty percent of our immune system is produced in our stomach. For those of us who are susceptible to anxiety and depression, taking care of our stomachs and intestines can help strengthen our “emotional immune system” as well so we can better face stress and trials in our lives, and reduce our inclinations toward depression and anxiety.

THE DAMAGING EFFECTS OF OUR DIET ON OUR EMOTIONAL IMMUNE SYSTEM

One big issue that can directly affect our bodies from making and effectively using serotonin is inflammation and toxins.

So much is still left to learn about the amazing design of the body and how many multiple functions can be made by the nutrients we take in, including their role in hormones and neurotransmitters. The more doctors research, the more connections they find.

In the end—there are dietary changes, supplements, herbs, and remedies you can take to reduce inflammation, detoxify, and saturate your body with deprived vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids needed for healthy mood regulation.

Here they are—

1. Get back to the NOAH DIET .  God gave us plants, animals, and herbs to eat for a reason. Eat plenty of fish, grass-fed beef, veggies, fruits, nuts and legumes, and drink plenty of pure, clean water. A lot of these foods have essential amino acids that help your body make serotonin. Buy organic as often as you can. God did not give us pesticides when we got off the boat. The amount of veggies we actually need to eat is way more than we do. If you are too busy or don’t know how, make green juice each day or a couple of days a week to help increase your veggie intake (fruit is normally not an issue for us).  Also—bone broth is another excellent way to pack in those nutrients from animals sources, including the bones, which we don’t often eat, but are filled with nutrients and amino acids.

2. STAY AWAY from foods that cause inflammation, are toxic, and/or increase stress levels. These include sugar, salt, gluten, lactose, caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, and non- Noah foods like processed or GMO.

You might be thinking, how???? Gluten and lactose? Bread and Milk are my life! Try one at a time and see how you feel. Some people don’t have milk issues. Others do. Some don’t have gluten issues. Others do. Or cut them down significantly. For me I find that cow’s milk really irritates my stomach, but wheat bothers it only a little. But after a few days of eating wheat, I’m in full-on anxiety and depression mode. I can now only handle wheat once a week. Anymore and I regress.  Check out sites on the Paleo Diet. That can give you great and delicious ideas on how to eat gluten free with little to no dairy. Another option is to try out alternatives to cow’s milk. I personally found that raw goat’s milk does not hurt my belly the way cow’s milk does. So now I cut out cow’s milk, limit my cheese, and drink either almond milk or raw goat’s milk when I need something creamy. Made a huge difference!

3. Take a WHOLE FOOD MULTIVITAMIN to fill in the gaps you might lose in the day. Whole-food is key here. Most multivitamins are synthetic and our bodies know the difference. Needless to say, about 70 percent of our multivitamin ends up in the toilet. But whole-food vitamins increase the chances of our bodies absorbing it because the vitamins are taken from actual food. So our bodies recognize it. And guess what? Your gut will absorb more of those vitamins, if it is not enflamed. So treat it well too!

4. VITAMIN B, especially B6 and B12 have been highly correlated to mood levels and emotions. Taking supplements to increase your vitamin B levels can make a huge difference. If you are vegan, and do not plan on changing for philosophical, dietary, or moral reasons, I highly suggest getting a vitamin B12 shot. Vitamin B12 is not easily absorbed in supplement form and so the only way you can get the amount your body needs without eating it is to have directly injected into your blood. If you want to minimize supplements and get it straight from food, eat lots of canned clams, beef liver, turkey giblets  and oysters for your B12. They are also in other more common meats and dairy but not as high as the ones I mentioned here. (God gave us animals to eat after the flood I believe partially because he knew we needed B12. For some reason, plants do not produce vitamin B12. Perhaps before the flood they did, but due to the environmental changes that took place because of the flood, everything changed). For Vitamin B6, eat lots of chickpeas, baked potatoes with skin, prune juice, cooked Brussels sprouts, cooked spinach or raw red pepper.

5. VITAMIN C can help you reduce inflammation and detoxify your body, better aiding your body to produce and absorb serotonin in your gut. Again, good food sources would include citrus and peppers. Or take a supplement. As an added bonus, it helps your skin look younger! Hey that’s something that can help us feel better!

6. Low VITAMIN D3 levels are highly correlated to anxiety and depression. Vitamin D3 levels in Americans are more often than not significantly lower than necessary for healthy mood. Is it no wonder so many people are on Prozac and Zoloft here? Meanwhile the FDA keeps telling us to stay away from the sun, slather on tons of sunscreen, and keep buying their pharmaceuticals. Vitamin D3 is called the sunshine vitamin for a reason—our bodies naturally produce it when we are exposed to the sun. But if we are slathering sunscreen on every day, avoiding the outdoors, or stuck inside all day—we are not getting enough. And many drugs affect our body’s ability to produce vitamin D3.  If you are too afraid to head outside and get some natural sunshine then you’ve got to supplement. And we need much more than the typical multivitamin provides—just to maintain healthy levels, most women need around 1000 IU—some conservative sites will tell you a minimum of 400 IU’s, but that is just to prevent rickets,. You need a lot more to increase your immune system, and if you are deficient, significantly  more—sometimes as much as 10-30k IU a day to get your levels up. You can’t know for sure your levels, without getting lab work done. It’s relatively inexpensive even if you don’t have insurance, and highly worth it, especially if you suffer from anxiety or depression. I strongly recommend you get your labs done and check your vitamin D3 levels before determining the amount you need. If you don’t know—start with 400-1000 until you find out. Too much vitamin D3 can be toxic—although I will clarify, it is very rare that this happens because most people are significantly low. If your doctor says you are low (less than 20 or 30 hydroxy) than start supplementing with more than the 1000-IU and get your levels checked every few months to determine if you need to increase your dosage or decrease it. Dr. Mercola has done some great research on the proper amounts. I’ve posted a link to an informative article at the end of this blog.

7.OMEGA-3’S is an essential fatty acid used by your body for so much, including hormone production and emotional transmitter production.They also improve your immune system, making your body deal with less stress, and therefore less susceptibility toward anxiety and depression. The best way to get your Omega 3’s is through natural sources. Cod Liver Oil and Krill Oil are great options. The added bonus when taking Cod Liver Oil is that you also get vitamin D and A this supplement. Chia Seeds are also high in Omega 3’s. I sprinkle them in my pasta salads, cereal, yogurt, and make puddings with them.

8.PROBIOTICS and DIGESTIVE ENZYMES are something most people don’t appreciate as much as they should. While probiotics are important for all people to take in order to maintain healthy flora in their gut, and therefore maintaining their immune system, people with digestive issues or who are prone toward anxiety and depression should especially take them and even add digestive enzymes as well. Remember, a healthy gut strengthens your emotional immune system, making you better able to fight off depression and anxiety as well as viruses and bacteria. I take probiotics daily and digestive enzymes when I know I will be eating dairy. Enzymes help my stomach and intestines not hurt as badly after I eat it and prevent it from becoming enflamed because it helps break the proteins and sugars down to a more tolerable level for my sensitive gut. There are many kinds of enzymes out there and each work a bit differently. I prefer ones that help break down protein as they seem to be more effective for me. Now ironically, probiotics are most often grown in dairy. They are in yogurts. And even in supplement form, are mixed with casein or other dairy. But you can find probiotics grown in coconut or other bases at health food stores. They cost a little more but are well worth it. If you don’t have a dairy intolerance, just buy regular probiotics. I take Dr. Mercola’s  multi-strain probiotic blend and LOVE it! I did some research and found the top 10 probiotics found through studies of how much flora actually existed in the capsules at the time of consumption versus the amount claimed when the flora was bottled. Mercola’s scored a 9 out of 10 for quality and integrity.  I definitely feel the difference on days I don’t take it. Because of my antibiotic use as a kid, my gut flora has extremely low variety and amounts of flora, so I will need to take flora daily probably indefinitely to maintain a healthy gut and immune system.

9.God also gave us HERBS to use as our medicine. Now we do have to approach this one according to our own conscience as I do know some people are more sensitive to taking anything that might alter how they feel. But there are four herbs that are legal, safe, and effective at regulating mood and helping us distress. Chamomile, Kava, Ashwagandha, Rhodiola, Valerian Root, and St John’s Wort. They all work a little differently physiologically and their effects vary.

Chamomile is a very mild de-stresser. Most people drink them in teas. There is no real strong effect, but many people do find that it helps calm them down. Over the course of my 20’s I’d get anxiety that would literally make my esophagus have muscle spasms, causing me bad chest pain. I found that drinking chamomile tea really calmed those chest pains down as it relaxed the muscles lining my esophagus.

Kava is a little bit stronger in its effect. You can drink it in tea form most often. Although there are stronger doses in supplement and sublingual forms. I found that taking Kava helped the tension in my forehead melt away, like someone injected lotion into my head.

Ashwagandha and Rhodiola are both adaptogens which means they help the body adapt better to stressful situations. For me, ashwagandha has been extremely helpful with my anxiety. One reason is because it helps your body slow down its cortisol production, which is what you produce when feeling stressed. When you struggle with anxiety–your cortisol is on overdrive even when it shouldn’t be. So you have panic attacks at the grocery store and or are breaking down in the kitchen because you are trying to cook dinner but your daughter is crying for a snack. Rhodiola is also an adaptogen and helps your bodies serotonin to work more effectively. So this one is a better choice if you are more prone to depression rather than anxiety. If you have both, taking both can be really helpful.

Valerian root also mildly acts as a de-stresser and tension reliever. A lot of people take it before bed to help them distress and fall asleep better. I’ve never seen it in tea form but do see it in supplements and sublingual forms.

Here’s one that includes a lot of the vitamins and herbs I’ve mentioned above, including  St. John’s Wort. St. John’s Wort has been used for generations as a mood enhancer and stabilizer. Named after the apostle John, the herb actually acts as a very mild selective serotonin reuptake inhibiter (basically a natural and very mild anti-depressant). Therefore, while it is effective in this way, given it does actually help increase the amount of serotonin in your synapses by not allowing your body to recycle it as quickly, it can also have some side effects and should still be approached prayerfully, and in my opinion, as a last resort. Look those up and talk with a Naturopath and pray about whether or not this is a right choice for you. I say see a Naturopath, because regular MD’s and Psychologists have been trained, educated, and endorsed by the pharmaceutical companies. They will automatically not support it strictly because it is an herb and therefore, not approved by the FDA. Naturopath’s are well researched in herbs and can give you an intelligent, well-educated and researched assessment, by trustworthy resources even though they are not the FDA.  Given the mild effect, I have read that it is not addictive like pharmaceutical anti-depressant, but still should be reduced slowly before getting off to avoid any mood changes.

10.Last but not least, HOMEOPATHIC REMEDIES are another great option for helping our bodies heal and strengthen to fight off our disposition to be anxious or depressed. I won’t get into the entire science behind homeopathy, but basically it is a well-studied, age-old alternative form of healing that uses like to cure like. Over the course of history, certain researchers have found that when our body encounters a very mild amount of an element that causes a certain negative effect, if the person already had that ailment, the element actually helped the body heal itself of the symptom instead. This phenomenon has been tested and repeated through the scientific process. Homeopathic remedies that work for anxiety and depression as well as for people with digestive issues would include Arsenicum Album, Natrium Carbonicum, and Pulsatilla nigricans. In order to determine which one is right for you, you do need to consider other symptoms you might have as homeopathic remedies work with a number of issues. Finding one that really fits you will make it more effective. Seeing a Homoeopath can help you determine this—they will interview you, evaluate all of your issues, and determine the remedy and dosage that would best help your body heal. Once you are healed, you no longer need to take the remedy. For those of you who want to study up yourselves, there are plenty of books and websites out there including descriptions of the range of symptoms each one works at healing. You can go to the health food store and find a remedy that you think might work. Of course health food stores have a more limited selection so may not have the one you need, but a Homeopath can give you access to much more. It may take trial and error to find the right one. Seeing a Homoeopath though can reduce the amount of trial and error as they are experts and even doctors in the field.

#11: Magnesium L. Theonate is also incredibly helpful. It is the only magnesium that passes the blood brain barrier, is not a laxative, and works directly in the brain to help depression and anxiety. 🙂 Take before bed as some complain it makes them a little tired. I don’t have that, but some do. And for the last few months, I haven’t even needed it because I am on my way to complete healing. 🙂 

#12: Motil Pro has helped me and my brother along with numerous others whose anecdotal reviews online show its benefit. Many people with depression or anxiety also have a sluggish gut and resulting occasional or chronic constipation. This supplement does 2 things– it helps your bowels flow they way they are supposed to, gets those muscles in the lining moving. And it is packed with 5-HTP, the precursor to serotonin to help your gut make more (makes sense since inflammation and constipation prevent your body from making this essential neurotransmitter responsible for both happiness and feelings of peace and well-being). I suggest taking it morning when you wake up and another before bed as your start off on your lifestyle changes. Once you have been consistent and feeling better, switch to just one before bed. That is where I am at now. Saves money and makes more sense…they are meant to help you get back to well-being, not become an alternative dependancy. Eventually, I hope to no longer need it. But healing the gut takes time.

My Story:

I have found significant freedom through prayer, binding demonic oppression in my life, renewing my mind with the truth of the scripture and using to strengthen my self-control when my thoughts and feelings begin to control me. I also have made changes to my diet, have taken more time to rest and exercise. One of the last but very powerful steps I have taken has been to forgive myself and the many others who have hurt me over the course of my life. I had no idea how much of my anxiety and depression was rooted in worthlessness and unforgiveness. Personally, cutting out dairy and wheat made huge differences. Especially wheat, which after cutting out and then bringing back in made me recognize a significant correlation with my anxiety and depression. Dairy I’m allergic to, so it just adds to inflammation which didn’t help me produce serotonin. Ashwagandha has worked really well for me and now I don’t even take it everyday like I used to. 🙂

So many factors play a role in depression and anxiety. And for those who are predisposed toward the two conditions might find that in one bout of depression or anxiety, the cause is different than in another bout. When we are susceptible, then numbers of different issues can push us into it. There is no one-way method to solving the issue. It take intense self-analysis (through biblical truth), prayer, and time to get to the bottom of each episode—to find the patterns and to start making the changes to find solutions. While I have overcome my issues, I know now I have to continue the lifestyle I have made to maintain it. And when I feel an episode coming on, to dig into my toolbox and nip it in the bud. How’s my prayer life this week? How’s my diet this week? These questions help find the solutions.

Depression and Anxiety–5 Theoretical Solutions to this Modern Day Epidemic

sad-womanAs a rather emotional person from birth and now a working mother of four children, I have struggled with anxiety and sometimes, bouts of depression for most of my life. But as I meet more mothers, both working and stay-at-home, I’m discovering that I am not the only one.  It seems that anxiety and depression is a common issue with moms. But why do we have this issue so often? And what are ways to cure it? In my research and experience, I have come across 5 different theories.

The Theories:

  1. Take pharmaceutical drugs to cure the “chemical imbalance” that supposedly is causing the anxiety or depression.
  2. Find the external cause of the anxiety and depression and get rid of it.
  3. Cope with it through exercise, rest, prayer, meditation, and change in attitude.
  4. Deal with the spiritual problem causing it, requiring major prayer and often, repentance.
  5. Approach the anxiety biologically as well, but through diet and supplements rather than pharmaceutical drugs.

All of these schools of thought depend on what one believes is the cause of the anxiety or depression. Is it a chemical imbalance? Is it a spiritual problem? Is it a natural and normal reaction to an environmental trigger or problem? Is it some other biological cause? If it is a chemical imbalance, what is the cause of that? In today’s blog I seek to explore each theory, and its strengths and weaknesses, through a Christian World View.

Pharmaceutical Drugs: As a Christian woman, I personally feel very convicted about pillstaking pharmaceutical drugs. I find the pharmaceutical industry to be corrupted and money hungry, out to make millions off our suffering and causing more suffering to us in the end. I also believe the bible when in Revelation it talks about people not willing to give up their “pharmakia” in their pain and suffering for God in the last days. Given the statistic that 48 percent of Americans are taking at least one pharmaceutical drug and the pharmaceutical industry is making 234.1 billion dollars a year off our suffering, and less people are believing in God than ever, I can’t help but see a correlation. Now I want to clarify, that I believe there are many good, God-loving Christians out there who are taking pharmaceutical drugs for one reason or another. I don’t say the above correlation to discredit your faith. I’m just making an overall correlation to Americans in general in light of the scripture.

But none-the-less, I do urge Christians out there who struggle with anxiety or depression or any other ailment for that matter, to seek other ways and practices that have been known to resolve health issues first before resorting to these drugs. God did not offer Noah and his offspring pharmaceutical drugs to help them on their journey. He offered them himself, as well as work, and of course the plants, fruit, meat, and herbs. And eventually, he gave the law and the Sabbath, and always showing us his forgiveness to those who repented.

Therefore, I personally believe that pharmaceutical drugs should be a last measure, if at all, when all else has failed and only if the safety of the person or others are in danger. But I have certainly have had anxiety episodes in my past where I have thought about taking something to fix me. And I understand deeply why so many women resort to them as they can be a fix for some. Unfortunately, however, often times the anti-anxiety pills don’t work, or only work a little, or become such a big crutch that women find it very difficult to get off of them (often times getting off makes the anxiety episodes even more extreme), and worse yet—can give a number of other effects that are no fun, including heart palpitations. I know this personally because my father suffered from anxiety after his father died. He ended up taking anti-anxiety pills for 10 years, which lead to all of the above and eventually lead to heart palpitations, which I believe caused him to drown when he was 57 years old (the same day he told my stepmother over breakfast, that he wanted to work harder at getting off of the drug when they returned from their vacation). Even so, if there is such thing as a chemical imbalance, what is causing that? Drugs don’t heal us. They only cover up the problem.

weedsRidding ourselves of External Causes:   If you can find an external cause, and after prayer have confirmed it would safe, and biblical to get rid of the trigger, then by all means do it. This is very helpful and often an easy solution to anxiety. For example—a stressful job, a poor choice in friends, or perfume sensitivity could all be perfectly fine and beneficial to get rid of, depending on the circumstance.  But the problem with this second option is that often time, there is no external cause for the anxiety. For example, within the first year after my daughter was born, I had three anxiety attacks in the middle of the grocery store. I love the grocery store! But sure enough, I’d be walking through and the chest pains would come, the heart would start racing, the sweat would break out on my forehead and meanwhile my mind would be perfectly calm and wondering what the heck was happening with my body. So what am I supposed to do, get rid of my wifely and motherly duties? If my husband is willing, great.  But what about my other bouts of anxiety? Or what if he is not willing to take the grocery shopping duties? Am I to get rid of him? Is that really the effective answer?  If our loved ones are the source of our anxiety, then we should work on some problem-solving and communication methods to help that relationship out.  Otherwise, other options might be necessary.

bible-readingLiving Life Abundant:   There are strategies to help us build strength and endurance when facing difficult situations–especially prayer, rest, and exercise. God gave us himself; he gave us work; and he gave us the Sabbath. This means these are important. God knows best! I have certainly found much relief from attacks when I have sought God, gone to bed early, or hit the gym. But sometimes the problem can be deeper….

God did give us his Word which is filled with tips on how find more joy, as he has intended for his children. If we don’t read the bible—we won’t recognize the lies we believe which could be causing our anxiety and depression and we won’t know the ways we can eliminate this from our lives. Because these are so often tied to our relationship with God, I will discuss these in the next section—Relationship with God.

Often times, people learn about “coping mechanisms” in order to deal with the struggles of life. I have an issue with a lot of the psychology behind these mechanisms because they often lead to some really dangerous ways of thinking designed to pull us away from God and our purpose here on Earth.

For example—meditation is a form of escapism and is rooted in Eastern thinking that we are to disassociate ourselves from all emotion and from this world even.  Frequent meditation can lead people to disassociate often and prevent them from connecting with other people. God gave us emotions for a reason.  While we need to learn how to use them effectively and control them, rather than let them control us, they certainly should not be shut off. Another issue with meditation is that it opens our minds to be influenced by demonic lies. If we don’t keep our mind focused on Christ (as commanded by the bible, requiring prayer or focus on scripture) then we are at risk of filling our open minds up with unbiblical lies and misunderstanding. If we are to meditate, it should be meditating on a bible verse or a truth of God, not in opening our minds and releasing all thoughts. Focusing on one thought–a truth of God, is much safer and healthy for Christians.

Other psychological coping mechanisms require us to change our attitude in harmful ways. I knew a woman once who went through a bout of depression in her early 20’s as she was feeling worthless and guilty over her promiscuity. She went to a psychologist for help. He told her to cope with the depression by changing her attitude about her actions—no longer believe that promiscuity was bad or immoral and then naturally her mind wouldn’t feel depressed about it. This harmful strategy sent her further down a road of promiscuity that left her scarred emotionally and could have potentially lead her unplanned pregnancies and STD’s had she not been so lucky.

prayerRelationship with God:  If the problem is spiritual, and through prayer and reading the bible you identify the lies that the dark side has whispered in your ears that have caused your anxiety and have bound them, hallelujah. Satan and his demons want to kill and destroy us and prevent us from living a life that glorifies God. If they can stop you by whispering lies that cause you anxiety and depression, they will. Condemnation is one common lie he can use. Remember God’s grace. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven for your past sins. You are a new creation!

These lies can lead us to sin and to think and feel in a certain way that destroys our lives and our purpose. Our anxiety or depression can be due to our conscience struggling with sin in our lives that can be forgiven, but still needs to be addressed first. God gave us the law for a reason.  And as Christians, our spirits know when we are sinning. Adultery, alcoholism, unforgiveness…the list can go on and have deep-seeded connections to causing anxiety. Addressing those sins is essential to healing ourselves of the damage it can take on our bodies. Sin hurts everyone!  God doesn’t want us to sin, not just because he wants us to be dressed for heaven, but because sin destroys our current lives and the lives of those around us. I have experienced this myself and it has made a huge difference. More often than not, anxiety and depression really is a spiritual issue.

There are some sins or spiritual issues we could be struggling with that are the cause of our anxiety and depression, but are not easily noticed by ourselves. They can be revealed to us though when we read God’s word or when we get honest answers from our friends and family who see us everyday—these issues include fear, unthankfulness, covetousness, lack of faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior, and feelings of worthlessness. First we need to understand what God says about these things so that we can then take our thoughts captive when we find ourselves thinking and feeling in these ways and plain and simple—stop it!

  1.  2 Timothy 1:7–For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
  2. Ephesians 5:20–Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
  3. Philippians 4:6–Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
  4. Romans 10: 9-10–That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved
  5. Luke 12:7—Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.

So sometimes the answer is as simple as—stop having yourself a pity party and count your blessings. Or recognize that if your anxiety is coming from fear—it is not from God. If it’s not from God, it’s not true. It is a lie. Pray and bind that lie. Stop it when you find yourself being afraid. God says to be anxious for nothing, but to be thankful and come to him with your requests. Are you giving your anxiety to God? Are you asking him for help in the areas that are causing your stress? Do you trust that he will take care of it? Do you even believe that Jesus is your Lord and Savior? He died so that we might be free. Free from what? Free from hell sure, but also free from our sin; free from the lies we have believed; and free from our slavery to our emotions and to our past. If we are not freed from these things, we cannot live a life full of the purpose he has intended for us. Be free! Trust in Jesus as your Lord and Savior.

I recommend two books that are biblical and while they shouldn’t replace the bible, can be used alongside the bible to really nail down any spiritual issues and lies you may believe that could be leading to your anxiety and depression. The Lies Women Believe, and Restored, both linked in these images.

dietDiet: I go back to the bible and am reminded—God gave us himself, the law, his word—but also plants, meat, work, and herbs. So what else can moms do? The more I read up on the diet and lifestyle of American people today, the more I wonder how much our diet plays a role in some of our issues. So I did some research the biological causes and correlations with anxiety and depression. And believe it or not, there is a lot! And as you know from the growing knowledge out there about the problems with the American diet and lifestyle, God may very well have already given us the tools and help to prevent our ailments like anxiety and even depression. And the problem is, we are not using them!

Stay tuned for my next blog—where I will share 10 ways you can make changes in your diet and nutrient intake to strengthen your body and mind– reducing your proneness to anxiety and depression.

As you wait for the next post, if you struggle with anxiety or depression, I strongly recommend you go through the above options and make a checklist for yourself. What areas have you tried? What have you not tried? What can you start doing today? Sometimes, not one approach alone works, but a combination. God wants you focused on him, but he also wants you to live a healthy life. Remember the things God gave his children: himself, the law, grace, work, rest, and the earth.  Starting and ending your day in prayer, and going to God when you feel a bout of emotions coming on, are a good place to start. Then look at your exercise habits, your rest habits, lies you may be believing, and possible sin in your life. Finally, look at your plate as you eat. Is this something Noah and his offspring would have eaten?

There is a great App called “Symple—Symptom tracker and health diary” that can help you track your anxiety and depression bouts and begin to look for correlations with circumstances, thoughts, and diet.

Its only For apple– https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/symple-symptom-tracker-health/id479818115?mt=8

I’m sure there are similar ones out there for Android although I cannot endorse them  without using them.

5 Things You Should Know Before Going Gluten and Dairy Free

  1. Corn, Rice, Cauliflower, Cashews, Almond milk, Lettuce, and Nutritional Yeast are Your New Best Friends.

bread-cautionAnyone who lives a dairy and wheat-free lifestyle has learned to love these 7 ingredients, and no–not necessarily together, although that could be cool too. Corn and Rice are the grains that now replace wheat. There are corn and rice pastas, corn tortillas, rice crackers, you name it. Although honestly, don’t bother with the rice bread and other “gluten free” bread types. They are all terribly bland. They are only tolerable toasted with some butter on it. But at 6 bucks a loaf, that may not be worth it. Instead, try lettuce.  Lettuce, on the other hand, can turn into an excellent replacement for tortillas and hamburger buns or sandwich bread. Because of this delightful green leaf, I can still enjoy In & Out. Thank God for “protein style” lettuce-wrapped burgers. I’d be one depressed mama without lettuce. As for dairy replacements–cashews can be soaked and blended to a very creamy consistency and when sprinkled with Nutritional Yeast and some spices can substitute as a base for a variety of “cream” based sauces like Alfredo or sour cream that are actually pretty decent when used lightly. And almond milk is that glorious drink you can use in your cereal, coffee or tea, and shakes. Hallelujah. Life can actually continue.

  1. Plan Ahead If You Want to Be Successful.

lactose-intoleranceThis means meal-prepping and meal-planning is key. I like to use Sundays to get all my meat cooked and veggies diced up for salads and lunches. Having ready-made snacks available are also essential. Failure comes when you don’t plan. These unplanned “I’m so hungry I could eat an elephant” sort of days will inevitably lead you to wheat or dairy, guaranteed. That’s what quick food is all about–well, unless you are okay with living off hot dogs the rest of your life with no bun. As a matter of fact, you might want to buy those just in case you do have a no-plan day. All beef and kosher could help you feel a little less guilty about it when you choose that over a string cheese or a microwavable burrito as you run out the door. Failure also comes when you are going to a friend’s house and didn’t share your food sensitivities with them, or didn’t bring your own dish or snack to hold you over. When this happens, you will have to resort to eating their food, which will include wheat or dairy in it 99% of the time. I’m telling you–once you cut dairy and wheat you will realize that America is addicted to dairy and wheat. It is in everything. No wonder we are all getting so sick.

  1. Don’t Even Bother Trying Those Vegan “Cheeses” in the Vegan Section of the Grocery Store.

daiya-mac-and-cheeseI’ve tried them all and they are nasty—no matter how delicious those pictures on the cover of those Dairy Free Mac and Cheese boxes or vegan shredded cheese bags. It might be orange and gooey looking, but it tastes like melted cardboard. Blech! Just embrace marinara sauce over your pasta or better yet–garlic and olive oil sauces with a little bit of nutritional yeast flakes or mizithra (sheep cheese) sprinkled over the top. It is so much closer to the real thing, and absolutely delicious. Of course, that is if you are really more of a cow-dairy free person like myself. I suppose cardboard cheese might be necessary as you transition out of cheese on tacos, cheese on burritos, cheese on burgers and sandwiches type of lifestyle. But you will learn quickly, that your taco, burger, and burrito just taste better without it completely. I have moved past my belief that I need cheese on my nachos and taco salads to be happy by finding pleasure in other flavors like guacamole or salsa or mayonnaise and ketchup.

  1. It Will Be Hard At First, But It Gets Easier With Time

gluten-free-dairy-free-pizzaThe hard part is not really the lack of options because if you plan or jump on the Paleo bandwagon, there is a wealth of delicious recipes out there and grocery stores are catering more and more to the dairy-free, wheat-free movement. Almond milk is now even in Starbucks so you can still enjoy your lattes. The hard part is really the habit-breaking and the emotional addiction. You don’t realize how much you eat dairy and wheat until you cut out dairy and wheat. You have to rethink food completely. And if you love wheat and dairy as much as I do, you will have to mourn the loss like a death in the family. You might stop dancing for your food at first. But I promise, if you stick to it, your taste buds will change, your habits will change, and then it will be easier. There are scores of testimonies from numerous people who have taken the plunge and refused this American diet all over the web.

  1. You Will Look and Feel Amazing! 

happy-womanSay good bye to bloating, acne, belly aches, digestive problems. Say good bye to fog brain, mid-day fatigue, and even about 10 pounds of extra fat. I don’t know how I lived so long feeling miserable for food when there are so many other great foods out there that don’t leave people feeling so sick. This ultimately is what motivates me to keep on going with my lifestyle. Those days where I get lazy or give into temptation almost always leaves me hunched over in pain, passed out tired, or even depressed the day after. I regret it every time and get right back to the dairy free, wheat free lifestyle. I can’t tell you how much more energy I feel, how much lighter I feel inside, and how much better my skin looks, not to mention just not having to live every day with a belly ache. I think you will agree too.

Teenagers These Days: rantings of a scribbling woman

I’ve got a stack of ninth grade English class essays in front of me that I just started reading. I’m down to the last five and am learning so much about my students. It’s perfect that we plan for this essay the first six weeks because for the kids who actually do the essay (an autobiographical narrative), it does teach me much about why they are the way they are.

But this year, I am especially sad by what I am reading. Sure, the bad grammar and elementary vocabulary is depressing, but more importantly, it’s the stories. I asked my students to write about a time in their life that was monumental or that signified a turning point for them, a moment which in some ways defined who they were or why they were who they were. This year, I’ve read some stories that make my heart break. Stories of drug addicted mothers, foster care, abusive fathers, and gang deaths. Stories of abandonment and a desperate need for love.

Sometimes I think I will have to read these essays over and over again when I want to get mad at my students for not being what I think they should be. Yes, they should try hard. Yes, they should keep getting back up when they fall and reach their goals. But lets face it, where are they going to learn that from? The home is the most important environment these kids have and most of them are broken. In the town I teach in, divorce is common; drug use, gang violence, poverty, alcoholism, child abuse, sexual activity, and illiteracy is a norm. And then to make that worse, they have all the radio stations and the movies teaching them that indulging in sex, drugs, violence, and greed for money is a normal and expected way to live and will fill their life with joy.

Meanwhile we have politicians, judges, and other American citizens pointing their fingers at the education system and screaming out that we are the ones who failed their children. Now I am not saying that our education system doesn’t need work. Believe me, this NCLB bologna is ridiculous and only leaving more kids behind but we could be amazing at what we do, and I still feel we’d have a problem. Why? Because how can I expect a 14-year-old teenager to pass his classes and his state exams at proficiency level when he lives in a home with 10 other people including his drunk father and his mother who works three jobs to support him and his best friend just died in a gang shooting, and he himself is being pressured by all the violence in his neighborhood to join a gang too so he can have protection and he can’t read very well because no one read to him when he was a child and meanwhile he wants money because all the music he listens to and movies he watches and commercials he zones in on tell him that money will give him everything he wants and right now school doesn’t seem like its going to work out for him, but selling drugs could give him some instant cash so…….

Do you understand what I am saying? No, not all of my kids are gang members, but many of them come from everything just short of that. I’ve got a 14 year old girl who is pregnant, another student who is living alone in a 1 bedroom room he rents while working 2 jobs and going to high school so he can live the American dream. I’ve got another student who is so proud right now because his mom has been clean from meth for 10 months and he thinks she finally kicked the habit so they can be a family again.

This is what our society has left for our grandchildren. I wasn’t here 50 years ago, but from what my parents tell me and my grandparents, this wasn’t the norm then. This wasn’t the problem with education then. So what is different?

I think greed and an overall indulging and condoning of immorality has corrupted this world in a way it hasn’t seen since Sodom and Gomorrah or the times of Noah.

So now what to do?

So many of my student’s writing is so poor despite my scaffolding, I will have to give them a D or an F on their essay, but what I really want to do is give them a big hug and tell them that despite what has happened to them, they are actually doing really well. And I will for many of them. I’ll give them their grade because I can’t fuel the system by just pushing these kids a long, but I will love them the whole time I set the standard high. And I will encourage and support them as they try to learn (or not) the skills I am instructed to teach them.

What else can I do?

It’s not just the education system that needs to be changed people. It is everything. Its turning off that song on the radio that glamorizes sex and drugs no matter how much we just like the beat because if we all did, the radio station would stop playing it and that would be that many fewer kids being indoctrinated to believe that way of life is normal and good. It’s about going to marriage counseling and being true to our vows to our husbands or wives even if we aren’t in love anymore because that is what marriage is about and that is what our kids need. It’s about teaching our kids to find joy in giving rather than just taking. It’s about going to the library if we can’t afford to buy books and checking out one bedtime book to read to our kids even if we really want to watch that lame reality TV show instead. It’s about teaching our kids that they can have some self-control and not have sex even if the world tells them they should. It’s about sacrificing our own selfish desires for the better of others. Can we do this? Honestly, I know of only one way we can all transform…..and you all know my stance on that. But it is a condition of the heart. And that condition is something I don’t think will change for better anytime soon.

So in the meantime, I will continue to love these kids. And hope and pray that we all survive the future that they will bring on this world when they become our next voters and leaders of this country.