Medications have their place.. just sometimes not all the time

A recent article in the New York Times states that people taking antidepressants are finding it difficult to quit, sometimes regardless of how long they've been on the drug. Antidepressents were only supposed to be given for short-term use, about 2 months, and now 15.5 million people have been on them for at least 5 years. That rate has just about doubled since 2010, and well over tripled that amount from 2000. While they can help many people, and still do, the concern becomes 'what next' if someone wants to come off these medications, still feel good, but now frustrated with unwanted side effects like weight gain, lowered libido, apathy, and memory problems (and more serious ones like thoughts of suicide, gastrointestinal bleeding, and agitation). 

More often than not people get placed on pharmaceuticals because there needs to be immediate and fast-acting intervention, think Emergency Room docs who need to calm the patient having a seizure, or someone who's blood pressure is dangerously high, yet the majority of the concerns in developed countries are lifestyle based. Therefore, changing the process of how we got on these medications, such as through better diet, dealing with emotions (emotional health), stress management, exercise more, better relationships, and clean living, we may be able to come off, or perhaps get the dose lowered, of these medications.  

  • Enter natural therapies- herbs like lavender and turmeric have been researched extensively for psych related concerns, and hawthorn is a natural beta blocker (for high blood pressure). In fact, the majority of pharmaceuticals are derived from a single constituent of herbs, and then reproduced to a certain extent in a chemistry lab (usually with fillers, food dyes, and other chemicals that our body doesn't like).
  • Nutritionally, foods like avocado have also been studied to improve mood with their high amount of tryptophan (turns into serotonin, our happy hormone, thats also found in turkey), B vitamins (helps with that conversion, as well as over 300 other reactions in our body), and magnesium, otherwise known as 'nature's relaxer'. Olive oil has also been studied to improve bone health, and its healthy fats are also beneficial to balancing hormones, weight loss, improved mood, and preventing/reducing the risk of heart disease.
  • And, for your lifestyle- step in the dirt every so often with your bare feet (grounding) as bacterium in the soil has been shown to help boost mood, provides us with a sense of calmness, and can help reduce/protect us from exposure to electromagnetic fields.  

So where do you start? Implementing tasks little by little is usually more effective than trying everything at once. Assess your lifestyle and see where you can start. If you are on medication, I would also recommend working with a knowledgable health care professional to help guide you too to a plan of ramping up natural type therapies to 'take over the drug's effects', while in the meantime instilling healthy habits around diet, sleep, stress, and lifestyle to lessen the chance of unwanted side effects, and ultimately restore & optimize your whole system.