How to Fight Depression During the Holidays
Major depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States.
Remember, the brain is very sensitive to hormone depletion, so if you don’t have enough thyroid hormone, you’re going to experience depression symptoms, and a lot of times brain fog, and short term memory.
Yeast overgrowth – one connection that we see is that yeast and depression are very connected. Sugar is going to alter your mood.
We see mostly women in our office having depression. That’s because it’s associated with hormone imbalance and nutritional deficiencies.
The holidays are in full swing and you know you should be enjoying this wonderful time of year, however you find yourself battling the blues instead. Learn what could be the underlying cause of your depressed moods. Physician Assistant, Angelica Clark, P.A.-C, shares her words of wisdom on how you can fight depression during the holidays.
Listen to the podcast here:
Angelica: Hi. My name is Angelica Clark. I’m a physician assistant at Hotze Health & Wellness Center.
Today, I’m going to address a very common symptom of hormone imbalance – depression. We’re also going to discuss what you can do naturally to overcome this.
Major depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States. So that you have an idea, there was a study, a report done in 2013 and it was estimated that 15.7 million of adults in the United States age 18 and older had at least one major depressive episode in the past year. This is huge. This represents about 6.7% of all adults in the United States. So let’s keep that in mind.
We see mostly women in our office having depression. That’s because it’s associated with hormone imbalance and nutritional deficiencies. It’s also commonly associated with genetic defects, poor detoxification abilities and let’s keep in mind that this can be situational. Something traumatic happens to someone that led to the depression. However, if you’re balanced hormonally and nutritionally, that will enable you to cope with a stressful event better.
Therefore, we see this daily. It’s most common in women and one of the main reasons is because we are estrogen dominant. In a female after age 35, the hormones start to decline and then they start seeing a change in their mood and they start to become more irritable, and less patient. Then they may have an attitude toward a stressful event that they didn’t want, and then they regret it and then they feel depressed over it and it is like a snowball.
Hormone variations can affect also the level of neurotransmitters in the brain and those low levels will cause those chemical messengers in those pathways to lead to depression and a lot of times it’s also associated with anxiety. Another thing that estrogen dominance will cause is hypothyroidism symptoms. One of the things that happens is when you have estrogen dominance you start having more thyroid binding globulin which are proteins that bind to the thyroid hormones and keep them inactive, so it’s counterproductive there.
Moods are definitely associated with the balance of neurotransmitters, specifically serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. These are the feel-good neurotransmitters, so if you don’t have a right balance with those neurotransmitters, you feel bad. You have low moods. You feel depressed.
Progesterone is actually a hormone that is going to be impacting every single cell of your body. They’re found in the brain cells, actually 12 times at higher levels than you do find in the blood so there are receptors to progesterone in the brain and that will actually impact how you feel, your mood. Also, estrogen has an excitatory effect on the brain causing you to feel anxious. Your brain is going 100 miles per hour. You can’t focus. You can’t shut your brain down and just go to sleep. Then the less sleep you get the more irritable you get and the more depressed or more low moods you have. Therefore progesterone has a beautiful, calming effect and it’s going to help you with your sleep.
You need sleep through the holidays to get through that major agenda you got going on so you can meet everything that you have on your to-do list, and you will have a calming feeling so you can get through your things that you have to do through the holidays. A common cause of low progesterone as I spoke about earlier is women after 35, when the hormones just start to decline. It can also decline after childbirth. Postpartum depression is one of the things that can happen and when we talked about traumatic events, perhaps somebody has had a miscarriage or something didn’t go quite right during pregnancy and then during the holidays you bring back memories and things like that so hormones will actually not get you through this. It will bring those bad memories to your mind and again we do encourage that you have your hormones balanced so you can get through this easily. I’m not saying by no means that it’s going to make you forget bad memories or overcome trauma, but this will get you through that.
Allergies. Food allergies can trigger gastrointestinal symptoms and like canker sores, gastritis, diarrhea and who doesn’t feel bad when they don’t feel good. Your mood can definitely change, can be triggered from that feeling. Right? If you’re having to go to the bathroom several times because you have some allergies going on or you have a runny nose and you can’t focus. Your head feels full. You have a headache. You can’t sleep. You can’t relax. All of those things will cause you to feel low moods and feel depressed and also inflammation and swelling from allergies will affect the brain, and remember we talked about the brain and the relationship with the neurotransmitters making you feel good.
Hypothyroidism is an interesting one. A lot of us have some symptoms off and on of hypothyroidism and it can be triggered by other things like exposure to estrogen in the environment. If you have what we call xenoestrogen, which are the estrogens in the plastic, estrogen in the clothes you brought from the dry cleaners – all of these things are causing hormone imbalance and all of that will also trigger hypothyroidism symptoms. Remember, the brain is very sensitive to hormone depletion, so if you don’t have enough thyroid hormone, you’re going to experience depression symptoms, and a lot of times brain fog, and short term memory.
I remember one time I was sitting through a holiday party with my grandfather and we were talking about past events and grandpa remembered things that I didn’t. That was definitely hypothyroidism going on right there and so if you don’t have good memory and you have poor memory that can actually make things stressful too and make you feel depressed. Grandpa remembers things better than you actually do. This can affect the quality of life for sure.
Adrenal fatigue, like a cortisol rhythm, will impair your energy, your motivation to get things done and then if you can’t get the things done that you need to get done for the season then you’ll end up feeling bad about it. You feel bad about yourself and then you feel like having a pity party at home. You have low self-esteem and it just doesn’t help you get through.
Now let’s remember, adrenal fatigue is a chronic issue. Sometimes it get better, sometimes it’s worse. It may take you a long time to heal your adrenals and then if you’re going through the holiday season and you have a million things to do, you’re actually setting yourself up for failure because you may have worked all year around to get well and then during the holidays you can throw it out the window.
Yeast overgrowth – one connection that we see is that yeast and depression are very connected. Sugar is going to alter your mood. The more yeast you have the more sugar you crave. The more sugar you eat, the more you feed the yeast, and the more toxins they release so it will affect your mood, your sense of well-being. Keep that in mind about yeast overgrowth. Actually, at Hotze Health & Wellness Center, we invite all of our guests to join us in January for our yeast-free program which is a very productive program that we have. You can clean up your diet in January but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you want to completely overlook yeast.
Let’s talk about testosterone deficiency. Testosterone is not just a male hormone. It’s actually a female and a male hormone. Women and men have testosterone, of course different levels, but not having enough testosterone will cause you to have lack of motivation, drive, stamina and again you end up having low self-esteem and not the energy to get things done. Definitely talk to your healthcare provider. Talk to somebody that understands about balancing hormones. You may not want to wait until it is past the season to address those issues. You might want to talk to somebody now so you’re proactive and you’re taking care of a foreseen problem. Here at Hotze Health & Wellness Center, we can definitely help you with that.
Now, I want to mention, how is it treated or what is the traditional approach to depression? I was once in the healthcare field out there doing family practice, urgent care and one of the things that we do as a mainstream practitioner when you’re treating depression is, first of all you try, “Okay. What’s going on.” You try to assess. “Have you tried to get a counselor? Have you seen somebody?” Most of the time you don’t have the time to talk about these things, so what’s the easiest approach? A prescription. Most often that’s what’s being done out there through mainstream medicine. You get a prescription, you go home, take an antidepressant and you’re going wake up better.
Very little is discussed. They do not expose the side-effects and the concerns that there are with those medications. A lot of them have black box warnings. They actually can increase the risk of having bad thoughts and making your symptoms worse, so unfortunately that is the way its being done out there. I wish they had more time to explain the ins and outs and they had more time to talk about lifestyle changes and suggest counseling, but of course mental health in this country is also a problem because there are not enough practitioners out there that want to address mental health, and the reason really is hormone imbalance. People are actually not well balanced and not in equilibrium the way they’re supposed to be.
What is my take-home advice that I have for you? How can you beat depression during the upcoming holidays? How can you be successful and what are my suggestions?
1. I would hang on to your positive thinking and get a gratitude attitude. When we are grateful, when we have good attitudes, it actually makes things better. Keep your stressors to a minimum. For instance, shop online if you need to. That way you don’t get so stressed out about having to drive through traffic or the huge line at the store. I read some messages that actually some stores are having better discounts these days than they do around the holidays, so shop early if you have to.
2. Nutrition. Eat clean. Avoid the temptations of holiday foods. A lot of times they are really energy robbers. If you have not been eating sugar for long time and then you have that one bite, the more you have the more you crave. Remember yeast feeds off sugar…the more you crave it’s going to be counterproductive. When you have those energy robber foods, they actually will cause you to have low moods and low self-esteem. Number one, you won’t feel good. Two, it will cause inflammation. Number three, it will also cause you to feel, “Oh my goodness, why did I do that?” You have that big remorse and then you may actually start seeing the result on the scale then you’re worried about, “Oh my goodness I’m going to gain weight.” You feel bad and you’re more depressed about the situation than you begin with.
3. Let’s talk about supplements. You’re going to be out of your routine. You’re not going to be doing the things the way you usually do, so you’re going to forget to take your supplements and they’re vital for you to feel well. Remember they help with your energy. You need those nutrients to support those chemical pathways for detoxification and things like that. Vitamin D, magnesium, Bs and omegas are the most important because they are the supplements that support your detoxification, that supports your mood. If you can’t be taking all them, you forget a lot. Those are the ones you want to really remember. Vitamin D, magnesium, your omegas and of course your B vitamins.
4. Let’s talk about your sleep. Sleep is important. Know your limitations. Know how to say “no” or plan well. Don’t overbook. Can you be at this party while you’re going to that party? To try to do both and just stay half the time – that might not be the best idea. You’re going to cause yourself to be stressed out and it’s going to be counterproductive. Let’s keep in mind, make sure you keep it as least stressful as you can. Don’t overwork, don’t overbook and perhaps start a new tradition. Every year we have to go to grandpa’s house and grandma’s house and the other grandma’s house and then we have to go to this house and that house, so while there’s 4 different places, how about you start the party early? Let’s celebrate this weekend here and then next weekend there – start a new tradition. There’s nothing wrong with that. Be creative. Be innovative. It’s such a good thing.
5. Last but not least, be merry. It’s the season. Merry Christmas and be happy. Don’t try to cause yourself to be stressed. A lot of times we have the ability to do that just by the way we plan things. Sit down, plan well. Plan ahead, and write your goals. What are you really trying to accomplish this season? Are you trying to spend more family time or get the gifts done? What are your deadlines? Work through your goals list and enjoy the season. It’s the Merry Christmas season. It’s the merry season. Have a good holiday.