With so many people struggling with depression, anxiety and alcoholism, it should come as no surprise that more and more are looking for a natural way to improve their mental health.
There are many amazing life-saving treatments out there, such as SSRIs and talking therapy, which are groundbreaking. These treatments are at the forefront of treating severe mental health problems. But is there more we can do to lift our mood and win the battle against our own minds?
How is Alcohol Involved?
Alcohol addiction counsellor John Mclean says, “Alcohol is the only way I can cope.” this is the most common thing people who drink and have mental health problems say to counsellors. It is heartbreaking because that is how dependence feels like it is your lifeline, but really it is dragging you down.
The reasons for depression are still mysterious, although there are strong links to trauma, substance abuse and alcoholism.
Alcohol calms anxiety and reduces stress temporarily when you first drink it. However, it gradually reduces your body’s natural calming processes, which means that in the long term, you are worse off mentally every time you drink.
Alcoholism and Depression
Many people who are suffering from depression or anxiety due to drinking are in a downward spiral. Drinking makes them feel better at first. Then, later, as the body adjusts, your mood gets lower and lower.
The good, happy and calm feeling you get with your first drink or two is alcohol affecting the signals in your brain. It pretends to be a protein called GABA. This is one of the ‘feel good’ signals in your brain.
Sadly, your body is quick to change when you do it too much. This means that while you might enjoy drinking at first, continuous use will lower happiness. This means you won’t be able to be as happy as you were naturally before misusing alcohol.
Along with similar interactions, these are the reasons why we may start out enjoying indulgence in alcohol but later find it only makes us feel depressed and low.
There are natural and medical ways to help you feel better while your body detoxes. You could choose antidepressants or try supplements to stop drinking.
Antidepressants are used around the world to help the symptoms of depression. For many, they are lifesaving medication, but many doctors aren’t sure.
Prescriptions for these pills are climbing every year, even more so during and after the pandemic. This may be because they are so effective, and the mental health stigma is finally getting better.
However, some medical scientists and practitioners are starting to question how effective they really are.
In those who took anti-depressants long-term, recent studies found important proteins were missing. These proteins were part of the work done by neurotransmitters. These parts of the brain signal different thoughts and feelings.
This supports the theory that anti-depressants are lifesaving but only short-term. There are many other factors that need working on for a full recovery.
The opinion is now leaning towards natural antidepressants where possible. If you are struggling with depression and need medication, though, you should talk to a doctor.
These natural options range from fitness and time spent outside to diet changes.
This is a big factor. In fact, there is a discussion about whether increases in depression are down to less daily movement.
In a recent book The Real Happy Pill, the author suggests that movement could be the real answer to treating depression.
Remember serotonin? Exercise causes your body to make it naturally.
Other studies suggest that diet has a big part to play in mental health concerns. People with depression were studied to find what vitamins they were lacking.
Making new and better choices in life can lead to a slow, sustainable, positive trajectory. Making plans and learning more about good habits and activities can make a big difference. There are many books about alcohol and depression that can help you on your journey.
Counselling for drinking too much alcohol is in two parts. First, work out the reasons you drink too much, and second, decide how you are going to stop or cut down. An expert counsellor is someone to talk to but also guide you in setting goals and working out how you will meet them.
A counsellor will offer a judgment-free caring ear to listen to and support you. Strong support and social interaction are some of the best natural antidepressants there are.Try Alcohol Counselling to Stop Drinking
This is a big issue, especially in the Northern regions of the world. In winter, light can be sparse, and this can lead to a lack of Vitamin D. There are strong links between low Vitamin D and depression. That is why some countries provide supplements for free or subsidized.
Evidence is mounting that B-12 and Folate levels are lower in people with depression even after antidepressants. There are even links to show that countries where the diet includes high folate levels have much lower levels of depression in the population.
Traditional medicine in India, Bacopa, is used by those struggling with issues such as memory loss, depression and anxiety.
Interestingly, populations who eat a lot of fish have lower rates of depression as well. Studies have shown that omega-3 treatment may be useful in supporting people with mild depression.
In recent years, international studies have found my help with depression across the board. It may be even more effective in older adults. This may be in part because it can support problems such as memory loss, insomnia and alcohol withdrawal symptoms. These can be a cause and make depression worse.
An alternative to traditional cooking oil, MCT (coconut oil) may be more than meets the eye. Recent studies show that a piece of the depression puzzle may be problems with turning food into energy.
This leaves you feeling lethargic and contributes to a low mood. MCT Oil helps with this process and could be a helpful addition to a depression-reducing healthy diet.
St John’s Wort
This dietary supplement is a natural antidepressant most similar to medical antidepressants. It boosts the serotonin in the brain like SSRIs. However, we should be cautious as it can interfere with other medications, and the dosage is less controlled.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Keen to find natural alternatives to antidepressants and other detox medications, scientists have looked into apple cider vinegar. Similar to MCT Oil, it aids in changing nutrition into energy. College students in a 2021 trial experienced improved mood after taking a small dose every day.Try Desistal to Stop Drinking
The Role of Diet in Mental Health
With all the evidence of supplements and diet change having a profound effect on depression and anxiety, could the answer lie there? It is possible that, in part, what we eat and what we do with our bodies play a huge part in how we feel.
Antidepressants were a miracle drug when they were discovered and have saved a huge number of lives. However, perhaps it is time we viewed them as a short-term aid to recovery and not a lifelong treatment.
Most of us have heard of anti-depressants, but did you know there are many different types?
Here is a quick guide to the different pills available on prescription in the UK.
SSRI Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors
A more recent discovery in the 70s but not used until the late 80s. By far the most common, SSRIs are the mildest and safest for most people.
They stop your body from taking back serotonin, which improves your mood. They do have side effects, but they are usually mild.
Some of us can’t take SSRI medication. The best alternative is NASSAs, which are similar in function. They are less used because they can cause you to feel drowsy.
TCAs Tricyclic and Tetracyclic Antidepressants
These were the original happy pills and were originally discovered as part of tuberculosis research. However, they carry a high risk of overdose and aren’t used commonly in the UK.
NDMA Receptor Antagonists
Ketamine is the best known of this kind of antidepressant. Despite its reputation as an anaesthetic and illegal street drug it also helps with depression.
In small doses, it can help people with depression that doesn’t improve after treatment. Also, it helps with other mental health issues that can make depression worse.
SARIs, Serotonin Antagonists, and Reuptake Inhibitors
These pills not only stop your body from taking back serotonin but dopamine and norepinephrine. This is used in cases of major depression that haven’t improved with other treatments.
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15671130/ Treatment of depression: time to consider folic acid and vitamin B12
https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/acm.2008.0018 Depression in the Elderly: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0165032722003585?via%3Dihub Neuroprotective role of Bacopa monnieri extract in modulating depression in an experimental rat model