Anti-depressants mask symptoms- they are a tool we can use and do overuse, but they don't fix much. To fix the situation I had to figure out what was going on in the mind, body and emotion that created a place of distress. For me I had to get my body healthy first (diet, exercise, supplements- this took years to sort out -finding gene mutations, food allergies, gut imbalances) When my body was healthy and supported enough, I was able to begin processing unresolved trauma that I had been ignoring, pushing away and just not safe enough to deal with. Through therapy I worked through the trauma, and learned coping skills for everyday life- how to manage my emotions in healthy ways, learning to connect emotionally with people (something I didn't do at a meaningful level before)-- relearning how to live life in a healthy way. When my therapist thought I had all the tools I needed to be successful, I began working with my drs and pharmacists to figure out how to get off the crazy drugs. We tried tapering a couple ways before we found one that worked for my body. The taper that was successful took 5 months.
Awesomely succinct overview, yes?!? Ok here are the details for Baby Step #1, getting your body healthy. These were my issues. Yours issues will look different than mine, but maybe there is some overlap.
Baby Step #1 Caring for the bodyObviously exercise and sunlight are important for the body - that is really basic. I was an exercise and sunlight junkie for a long time, even before depression and certainly a heavy user during depressive episodes- Running and running for a long time was all that could pull me out of a crazy anxiety attack-- Sometimes I ran multiple times a day-- a bit of overkill, but it was how I coped. As I reached for more solutions and more tools on how to get well this is what I learned.
1. I have a gene mutation (MTHFR) that affects my body's ability to effectively use b vitamins-- I can't take them from the blood and transfer them into muscle and brain tissue-- the process is called methylation- the vitamins need a methyl-group added to them to be usable; my body doesn't do that process correctly. No matter how many b vitamins I was taking or how much green foliage I was eating, my body couldn't use it and flushed the nutrients. The solution is crazy simple... instead of using a traditional b vitamin complex I need a methlyl b-vitamin- I order them online- and that is an easy fix... Your dr can test you for the gene mutation or you can do your own experiment with the methyl-vitamins and see how they work for you. A simple google search will show you lots of options that are available. This is the one I use.
2. Dealing with gut/bowel issues. My intestines have been messed up and not happy for YEARS-- even before I had depression issues. We found some food allergies that made my life miserable- but I didn't know how miserable I was until I revolutionized what I ate. My body doesn't like wheat or rice AT ALL. It also can be irritated by nightshades (peppers, tomatoes, chilis) Too many of those, especially raw and life isn't fantastic. Oh and dairy too. I get crazy grouchy when I eat foods with dairy in it. Of all things, I also have issues with high oxalate foods (spinach, romaine). I experimented with what I was eating, going super simple for a month and then adding in foods and seeing what they did to my system. Yes there is life and good food even with limited choices... It can be tough but my life and my relationships are better because I am not a sick, mean irritable person.
I found a some supplements that help me use food and helped the bowels function- and reduced bloating and swelling. L-glutamine is an amino acid that the body can usually make on its own, In times of stress or over exertion the body may not make enough of it. L-glutamine is a precursor to the Neurotransmitter GABA and also aids the gut in maintaining the mucousal lining in the intestines. It is also plays a role in blood sugar stabilization. I recently learned that my cravings for alcohol in the past were a signal of glutamine imbalance.
I also take a supplement that has a combination of Taurine, Inositol and Choline. Choline and inosotol help balance blood sugar and help the body break down sugars, and the Taurine signals for the gallbladder to produce more bile which will help break down fats and proteins. Here are two different ones that I use interchangeably and have been good for me.
Once I stopped eating foods that irritated my system and started taking supplements that helped me process the foods I tolerated well, my resiliency to stress and my ability to cope with life changed night and day! Who knew that a body that gets proper nutrition will work better ;)3. Rest is as crucial as exercise... As a person who used exercise as a drug-- the more I did it the better I felt-- it was hard to learn to LISTEN when my body said, today rest is better than exercise. There is a balance of course, but for a while I had to just let my body rest, rest and rest some more. And then rest again. I stopped exercising- due to a lupus flare- and rested for months. Slowly I worked back up to moving. I tried running the other day... made it half a mile. :) oh yeah, the resting is paying off!