Nutrition and Healing
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  • Depression meds can’t cure all your woes

    We’ve all had those days when we’ve woken up on the wrong side of the bed.

    But some folks NEVER seem to wake up on the right side of the bed — and, as a result, it can be tough to deal with day-to-day responsibilities.

    It can make it difficult to get out of bed at all, and it can wreck your health.

    If that sounds like you, you know the difference between being “in a funk” and depression. There are the peaks and valleys of regular human emotion — grief, fear, loss, loneliness, and of course joy — and then there’s feeling “down in the dumps” for a long time, for no obvious reason.

    If you fall into the latter category, by all means, get professional help.

    But beware of the doctors who’ll hand out prescriptions, no matter what kind of bad mood you’re in.

    In 2011, a little more than one in 10 American adults were on some kind of psych med, according to a report recently published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

    Just two years later, that number jumped to one out of six.

    And what’s more disturbing is that these docs appear to be prescribing these mood meds for all kinds of “off-label” uses — because 25 percent of seniors aged 60 to 85 turn out to be on them.

    Pain? Take an antidepressant. Side effects of menopause? Take an antidepressant. Stressed over diabetes? Take an antidepressant.

    And it’s not just antidepressants, but also anti-anxiety and sleep meds, too.

    If your doc has already whipped out his prescription pad to try and help you manage stress, anxiety, or depression, you may need to switch to a new doc in order to avoid the risks that come with meds that mess with your head.

    A holistic approach is a safer alternative, without the side effects and risks (which include anything from falls to suicidal thoughts). And it’s not likely to zone you out and just “cover up” whatever is really bothering you.

    Mood-boosters that you can try on your own include:

    • Exercise: Physical activity has been proven to improve mood — and not just because getting a little exercise will help you sleep better. If you can get up and move any amount, the influx of endorphins can boost your mood and even relieve pain naturally.
    • Soak up the sun: Your body converts UV rays to vitamin D, one of nature’s best mood-boosters. If you can’t get the real stuff during the winter, invest in a specialized lightbox and supplement with vitamin D.
    • Make your gut happy: Probiotic supplements have been shown to reduce anxiety, stress, AND depression. They can even improve memory — and it only takes about four weeks to see major results.

    Finally, don’t underestimate the power of talking it out with another living, breathing person who’ll listen without judging you. Whether it’s a friend, barber, clergy, or the folks at the senior center, making a connection — and feeling a little less alone — can make a world of difference.

    1 in 6 U.S. Adults Use Psychiatric Drugs in a Year

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