I am no stranger to depression. It runs in my family, supposedly due to an inherited “Black Scotch” melancholy or something. One of my first memories as a child is trying to make my mom happy because she was depressed and crying so much. Some of my family members had depression and craved excess alcohol, nicotine, coffee, and sugar since they stimulated or temporarily made them feel better.
Personally, I seem to have a moderate predisposition to depression and have worked hard—especially during times of great stress—to stay balanced and happy. As a youth, I felt depressed and antisocial at family gatherings until I connected my massive sugar intake with the mood changes. When my first love broke up with me at age 21, it felt as though I were falling into a deep, dark hole with no hope of escape. I briefly thought about running my car into a bridge embankment to escape the pain but, fortunately, didn’t act on that impulse.
Over the years, I’ve developed powerful self-care strategies that serve me well. These natural methods can also help you and your loved regain your health and life.
There’s a silver lining to every cloud. My family and personal history of depression motivated me to search for sensible solutions to this common malady. As both a clinical psychologist and a holistically oriented chiropractic physician, I’ve worked with many patients who suffered with depression. In my experience, almost all cases of depression can be successfully treated with Safe, Affordable, Natural and Effective (SANE) methods IF they follow a holistic program AND give it enough time.
The Problem of Depression
Incidence of depression in the U.S. is approximately 10% with a 5% worldwide rate. Approximately 3000 people commit suicide each day because of depression. News reports regularly tell about a celebrity, athlete or famous person who “has it all” but still suffers with depression. Billy Joel is the latest example of this in the news. Of the school shooters whose medical records have been made available, all suffered with depression and other “mental” symptoms and were on psychiatric drugs. The financial and personal costs of depression are beyond measure.
Eighteen-year-old “John” suffered with severe depression, anxiety and insomnia for several months. He had several plans to kill himself if his symptoms didn’t improve soon. Luckily, his family saw his struggles and sought health care guidance. Their medical doctor recommended an anti-depressant drug and sleeping pills. I recommended a nutrition-based method to detect what stressors and deficiencies were causing his symptoms. Fortunately, his family chose door #2.
John had been exposed to lots of chemicals as a child. He also had a chronically poor diet and mineral deficiency after losing eighty pounds in a short period of time. Both factors were affecting his brain function and his depression was a ‘red flag’ to communicate that something was wrong. I gave him whole food nutritional supplements to help remove the chemicals and provide key nutrients needed for normal brain function. He felt 50% within a few days, 75% better in a week and 95% better in two months. He resumed work, school and a normal life without taking potentially harmful drugs for the rest of his life.
I’ve been shocked to see how many young people suffer from depression and other “mental” symptoms. It’s an epidemic that needs to be addressed by caring health care professionals who aren’t inordinately influenced by the disease care industry that requires high profits to please shareholders.
Depression affects all age groups.
While in theology school, I worked at a suicide prevention and counseling center. The toughest cases were elderly women who were severely depressed and suicidal after decades of an empty or abusive relationship. They had no resources, no hope, and were in too deep of a hole to recover. I’m sure that some of them did kill themselves or died from cancer or some disease in which the body attacks itself.
Years ago, I worked with “Bonnie,” a middle-aged woman who was depressed. Her father died a year before and she had dealt with the grief. However, her church taught that those who didn’t believe a certain way would suffer in hell forever. Her father hadn’t been “saved” before he died and, she believed, would fry for eternity. Bonnie blamed herself for not getting through to him and felt partially responsible for what she thought would be his endless fiery torment.
The Causes of Depression
The most common causes of depression I see in patients include:
1. Nutritional deficiencies, especially after one or more pregnancies, excess sugar and alcohol, severe stress, and a chronically poor diet. People of non-Caucasian races seem to be especially vulnerable to the ravages of poor diet, perhaps because of their ancestral real food native diets.
Fifty years ago, most doctors didn’t understand that pregnancy creates nutritional deficiencies and, sadly, the situation hasn’t changed much since then. Most mothers are told to continue taking their pre-natal vitamins, as though those few synthetic nutrients will do the job.
Post-pregnancy nutritional deficiencies can cause depression shortly after birth or a few to many years later. While giving their history, many middle-aged women have told me, “My symptoms started shortly after my second child was born and I’ve never been the same since.” They often have a potpourri of chronic symptoms that few doctors can solve. So they are given “happy pills” or have their reproductive organs cut out, but—in the long run—that just worsens the situation.
2. Food allergies and offending foods (GMO, chemical-laced non-organic foods, processed junk food)
3. Overgrowth/imbalance of microorganisms in the body (viruses, bacteria, yeast or parasites)
4. Excess electromagnetic fields (EMF) from ‘dirty electricity’ sources
5. Excess chemicals due to the 2000 chemicals we’re exposed to daily
6. Toxic or heavy metals from body care products, home cleaners, and many other sources
7. Skin trauma—scars from surgery, cuts, animal bites, body piercings, tattoos or IV sites—that interfere with normal sympathetic nerve transmissions
8. Excess waste products and toxins in the body, especially eliminative organs—the liver, colon, skin, lymphatic system, lungs and kidneys
9. Chronic insomnia and fatigue
10. Misaligned spinal and cranial bones that put slight pressure on the spinal cord and brain.
11. Boredom/creative discontent due to not following ones purpose/missions.
12. Side-effects of prescription drugs including ones given for depression. Antidepressant drugs can have major side-effects including increased suicidal or homicidal behavior. That’s why the FDA requires a ‘black box warning’ on anti-depressant drugs. Psychiatry, the least scientifically based branch of medicine, still uses primitive, hazardous therapies such as electro-convulsive shock therapy to treat depression so beware.
13. Prolonged and excessive stress that imbalances the adrenal glands, brain and immune system.
14. Chronically poor relationships that are unfulfilling, negative or abusive.
15. Negative influences from fear-based religious denominations
16. Lack of exercise and all the negative results of being out of shape
17. General poor health due to poor self-care such as smoking, excess alcohol, drugs, inadequate rest, too much time on the computer/video games/TV, etc.
18. Medical emergencies—such as tumors, severe diseases, disability, and other abnormalities—can cause depression and may require orthodox medical care. Medical treatment is miraculous and indicated when emergency or crisis conditions are involved. However, for many common physical and “mental” symptoms, the “disease care” approach can cause worse problems and it doesn’t address the underlying causes.
19. Emotional Crises: depression can occur after the death of a loved one, loss of job, empty nest syndrome, dying—especially if a person is not balanced. These create short term justifiable sadness, but that doesn’t call for antidepressant drugs.
20. Lack of Sunshine: in cold northern climes during the winter, lack of sunshine can lead to lower vitamin D levels and less activity outdoors. In areas predominated by cloudy and gloomy skies, that may also contribute to more depression
Keep in mind that a person can be affected by more than one cause at the same time. That’s why holistic health care considers all the underlying causes and treats the whole person. It also explains why many health-care specialists—who primarily focus on one bodily system—often don’t understand the core causes of depression and resort to treating the symptoms with drugs.
When seeing the different causes of depression, some people feel overwhelmed at the prospect of making so many changes. That’s why you need a coach, a health care professional who can evaluate which ones are affecting you. You don’t need to change everything but you do need to address the major causes.
Here are a few real-life cases of patients who regained their health and their lives again when the root causes of their depression were addressed . . .
“Larry” had experienced depression, brain fog and severe headaches for many years. His history revealed several falls and auto accidents in which he had hit his head. I found significant misalignment of the upper neck vertebrae and skull bones. These were exerting slight, but impactful pressure on his spinal cord and brain. After a few weeks of specific and gentle adjustments, Larry started feeling better. After a few months, his symptoms were gone.
“Kathy” had been a chiropractic patient for many years and had just given birth to her second child. I could tell something wasn’t right as soon as she walked into my treatment room. “I just wanted to say good-bye,” she said. “I’m going to drive my car in some direction until I run out of gas and then I’ll start walking through fields and woods until I die.” Fortunately, I knew how to help. She didn’t need a spinal adjustment that day; she needed replacement of vital nutrients that had been lost during her second pregnancy. With a personalized program of whole-food supplements, she quickly regained her normal cheery disposition. Years later, we shake our heads at how close she came to making a poor decision from an imbalanced state of mind.
“June” had several causes that combined to cause symptoms of depression and anxiety. She smoked too much and her diet was poor. Her marriage wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t meeting her needs. She was bored and had too much time on her hands. We tuned her up with nutrition-based healing and chiropractic care. She quit smoking and began exercising. With her renewed energy, she started working part-time and spent more time with family and friends. She communicated her needs for a better relationship with her husband and, to her surprise, he responded positively. After addressing these causes, her depression . . . well, I guess it just flew out the window, because she doesn’t have it anymore.
17 Depression Solutions
1. Nutrition-based healing methods are the most powerful way I know to address many of the causes. Search for licensed health care professionals in your area who use Nutrition Response Testing (www.unsinc.info.) These practitioners use whole food nutritional supplements from Standard Process, the gold standard company used by doctors of all types since 1929. They can usually address the # 1 – 8 causes listed above. These techniques analyze what body systems are out of balance, what factors are causing this dis-ease, and what the best solutions are for restoring normal function.
As mentioned, vitamin D stores can lower during cloudy and cold winter months. That’s why real vitamin D from whole-food sources is especially important then. Most vitamin D is synthetic (made in laboratories) and just 1 form (D2 or D3) instead of the dozens of forms of vitamin D found in good sources of cod liver oil. The best two sources I know are GreenPastures.org and StandardProcess.com
2. Chiropractic care by D.C.s who specifically adjust the spine after evaluating with x-rays or other spinal imaging system. Different techniques are used by chiropractors; I recommend Pierce, Palmer, Pettibon, Stillwagon, Applied Spinal Biomechanical Engineering (ASBE), Thompson and Gonstead. More gentle methods include Koren Specific Technique (KST), Activator, Sacral-Occipital Technique (SOT), and upper cervical techniques (Sweat, NUCCA, Grostic).
3. Cranial adjustments, gentle specific movements of stuck/misaligned bones of the skull by skilled practitioners. I recommend a practitioner trained in SOT, KST or Upledger’s Cranial-Sacral Therapy.
4. Release stuck emotions that can wear figurative grooves in your brain. I discuss many self-care methods for doing this in the Awareness chapter of my book Radiant Wellness. Techniques to assist this process include the Neuro-Emotional Technique (NET), Koren Specific Technique, counseling and other psycho-spiritual release methods.
5. Have happy, loving relationships. You deserve to enjoy uplifting and supportive relationships with family and friends. Inventory your relationships and identify the negative ones that aren’t serving you. Improve them if you can; if you can’t, avoid them or minimize your contact with energy-draining people.
6. Exercise has been shown to be more effective than psychotherapy for relieving depression. Move your body four or more days per week by walking, biking, yoga, jogging, treadmill, etc. Exercise with a friend to increase the benefits by discussing your visions for a new, improved you.
7. Identify and follow your heart-felt missions, at least part time. Service to others is a key to enjoying heaven on earth now. You get back 10 to 100 times what you put out so identify how you can help others and wave good-bye to depression.
8. Get out and about. Excess isolation can cause depression so get back into the swing of life. Enjoy interacting with others at community events, church, a safe neighborhood bar, health center, etc.
9. Eat the “Real Food Diet.” Humans have been around for about 200,000 years and they ate a whole food diet until seventy or so years ago. That’s when too much sugar, white flour, and processed foods replaced real food: meat, eggs, vegetables, nuts, seeds, fruit and pure water. Eat those foods that the body and brain are accustomed to and watch your energy and clarity soar.
10. Avoid chemicals and heavy metals as much as possible. The most common sources of these destructive toxins are listed in the Inner Cleanse chapter of the Radiant Wellness book. Your brain is the most sensitive organ to environmental toxins and often reacts with symptoms such as depression.
11. Counseling from a licensed therapist or minister from a love and service-based church can help if unresolved issues and stress is a factor. Find one who uses a goal-based counseling approach versus life-long psychoanalysis.
12. Include a great integrative medical physician on your health care team. As discussed, there are rare crisis conditions that can cause depression and require medical intervention with drugs or surgery. Have a caring doctor who can look at the big picture and is willing to communicate with your health care team.
13. Be your self. Nature abounds with a diversity of plants, animals and terrain. In the same way, we should appreciate and respect the diversity among people but, unfortunately, that’s not always the case. So proudly be who you are no matter what others may judge about your race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, physical appearance, etc. Form a community of family and friends who value your essential oneness and aren’t judgmental about minor differences.
14. Centering practices allow you to be more calm so you can move toward the greatest life of your dreams. Meditation, prayer, time in nature, exercise, reading, movies, and music are my favorites, but anything that quiets the mind works.
15. Light Therapy. Obtaining adequate sun exposure isn’t always possible in winter months. Insufficient sunlight can contribute to a type of depression known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), sleep disorders, and other circadian rhythm disorders. Light therapy, especially blue light technology, provides light absorbed by the eyes and skin to combat these conditions. These devices have been researched at universities and are especially useful for people who work night shift and suffer with depression.
16. Visualize what you want. Your mind is more powerful than you realize so be sure to focus on what you want to attract into your life. Post pictures of you when you were happy and see yourself becoming that person again. Monitor your thoughts and statements so they lead to happier, not more depressed feelings. As you think, so shall you be.
17. Develop a personal relationship with Creator. Remember that life is inherently meaningful, even when it doesn’t seem like it. As Native Americans noted, every day is a walk in the woods with Great Spirit. Having a strong spiritual foundation will remind you to look for the silver linings when your life doesn’t unfold the way you think it should.
Remember that there can be multiple causes of depression so work with your health care team to identify all of the causes and design your revitalization program accordingly.
And, again, please don’t feel overwhelmed by all the causes and solutions. Develop a sensible rejuvenation program with your holistic healthcare team. Enlist the help of supportive family and friends. Choose one cause and address it to increase your energy and clarity. Then use that boost as a springboard to tackle another cause. Your body/mind will thank you for just small improvements and reward you with less depression and more peace, joy and vitality.
You can do it. The world needs your fullest gifts and you deserve to feel happy, healthy and energetic. My book Radiant Wellness discusses all of the above causes and solutions in detail. Let me know how I can help.
Note: This information is not designed to replace medical or psychological care. Dr. Pitstick’s recommendations are based on his four decades of training and experience in hospitals, pastoral counseling settings, mental health centers, and holistic private practice. They are not based on large subject studies, especially those funded by the medical/disease-care industry.
Mark Pitstick, MA, DC is a author, clinical psychologist, holistic physician, frequent media guest, and workshop facilitator. His goal is to help you know and show —no matter what is going on around you—that your earth-experience is a totally safe, meaningful, and magnificent adventure amidst forever. Visit www.soulproof.com for free articles, newsletters, and radio shows with top consciousness experts. Email Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org to ask your toughest questions about life, death, and afterlife.