Today, one in 10 Americans takes an antidepressant, and I am happy to say that I am no longer one of them.
I started taking prescription drugs at the age of 10 when my doctors diagnosed me with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). By the time I reached 18, I had been on 15 different antidepressants. At this point, I finally had had enough of feeling dull and lifeless, and decided to quit. What I realize today is that I never had ADHD or depression, but rather a gluten sensitivity, and a diet lacking in healthy fats, beneficial bacteria, vitamins, and nutrients to support optimum brain function.
Thankfully, through the power of yoga, and a healthy diet, I have been off of the meds for 10 years now, and have never felt better.
The good news is, you have the power to get off them, too.
*How to ditch your antidepressants
1. Take Probiotics
Scientists are finding out that there is a major relationship between our gut health and our minds. It turns out that if our gut is depressed, so is our mind. Doctor’s prescribe serotonin-specific reuptake inhibitor medications (SSRIs) to treat symptoms of depression. But did you know that you gut is responsible for making 80-90% of the serotonin available to your body? (i) When your gut bacteria is not healthy, inflammation occurs. And this inhibits the amount of serotonin available to your brain, resulting in depression. Dr. Perlmutter notes in his book “Brain Maker”:
“As a neurologist, for example, I find it intriguing to note that today’s antidepressants purportedly work by increasing the availability of the neurotransmitter serotonin, and yet the precursor for serotonin-tryptophan-is tightly regulated by the gut bacteria. In fact-a particular bacterium, Bifidobacterium infantis, does a great job of making tryptohan available”. (i)
By taking an aggressive dose of probiotics everyday, you will see huge results. Take a high grade probiotic in the morning and in the evening. Also, eat at least 2-3 servings of fermented foods everyday.
2. Take fish oil.
Studies have found that taking Omega -3 fatty acids raises serotonin levels, and researchers have found that when fed to pigs, fish oil has been shown to have the same effect on the brain as Prozac. Other studies have also shown that fish oil can smooth out mood swings from bipolar disorder.
If you are already taking fish oil, give yourself a pat on the back! But if you are using it to increase your serotonin levels, then up your dose to 20 grams, and make sure to buy pills with concentrated levels of EPA and DHA.
(Niacin has also been used to naturally treat depression and anxiety. To find more about click HERE.)
Studies have shown that meditation lowers stress, and in a recent study by the University of Oregon , they found that meditating can result in brain changes that may protect against mental illness. Meditating also helps you connect with your inner voice, which after years of being silenced by prescription drugs probably has lots to say!
Meditation is a wonderful spiritual outlet, but if you’ve tried it and it’s not your thing, there are many other outlets that can serve you in the same way.
4. Eat a healthy diet, and don’t skip meals.
You’ve heard the saying over and over “a healthy body, a healthy mind”, because it is the truth! What you put into your body affects your blood sugar levels, which in turn affects your moods. So make sure you are eating a diet filled with natural, unprocessed foods, loads of greens, healthy fats, and drinking plenty of water. And please, don’t go long periods of time without eating, as this quite often brings on mood changes.
It’s simple. Exercising releases endorphins, and endorphins make you happy.
Yoga is what works for me, but maybe swimming or HIIT ( high intensity interval training) might be what works for you. Whatever your outlet, make sure you get at least 30 minutes of exercise everyday. On the days where you don’t feel like an intense workout, simply go on a 30-minute walk, or do some gentle yoga. And for extra bonus points, try to get as much exercise outdoors in the sunshine as possible.
The choices are infinite, so play around and have fun with it.
And please remember to find a naturopathic physician to guide you along the way, in addition to consulting the psychiatrist or physician who prescribed your pills. With many of these beautiful people eager to help, why do this on your own? It’s much easier with support, I promise.
Making this transition will not be easy, but it is worth it. And please don’t close yourself off and try to do this on your own, because the more friends and family you include for support, the smoother the transition. Lastly, remember that you are a righteous and radiant being, fully capable of making this journey.
*Please do not quit your pills cold turkey. It is important that you integrate your new habits into your life while slowly weaning yourself off your pills. Your health coach can help you with this transition.
Furthermore, some people might need to stay on antidepressants. Not everyone is a candidate for being pill-free. Please consult your naturopathic physician and/or health coach to find out if quitting your antidepressants is right for you.
Further recommended reading:
Mind Of Your Own
Perlmutter, David, and Kristin Loberg. Brain Maker: The Power of Gut Microbes to Heal and Protect Your Brain–for Life. Print.