Mental Health, depression, saddness and low mood

Looking after your mental health

Welcome to 2018! I realise we have had a bit of a break but we’re back! To start us off this week we have a guest post from Naturopath Karen Noble who is currently practicing in Adelaide, Australia.

Have you ever had that feeling of emptiness, lack of joy and motivation and a need to withdraw from normal daily activities. The world seems too big or sometimes to small. You may have had a knock from someone, be it a nasty comment, a disappointing work outcome, your child just told you she or he hates you, your husband won’t eat the tea you so lovingly prepared and your world has caved in. Life becomes a burden, your mood drops, your smile and happy normal self seems to have disappeared and you notice, sadly, no-one seems to notice at all.

Our mental health is important and at any time our well being can be affected physically, mentally and spiritually to the point that it tips us over the edge of what we think is our normal self. What my normal self is, is totally different from your normal self. No one person can define what normal is, as we are so similar, but, different. These episodes of low moods can be referred to as depression or the blues or melancholia. They can be brief or last many weeks, month or years. Anything can trigger them and they are not your fault.

Often we deplete our energy levels with our busy rushing lifestyles, which the wonderful Dr Libby referes to as ‘Rushing Woman syndrome’. We race here there and everywhere and exhaust ourselves trying to do everything for everyone and try fitting little bits here and there in for ourselves if we are lucky. Many years ago I became very sick and once showered and dressed for the morning would have to have a sleep as I would be exhausted. My mood was low, and the doctor treated me for depression. I kept telling her I was not depressed. I was keen to do things as I normally did and had the desire, but my body was letting me down and did not keep up with my demands. Much later it was found I had been poisoned at my workplace and had chronic fatigue syndrome, it took me 12 years recover. That to my mind was not depression, yet there were sure days I got pretty low in mood as I went through grief and mourned the vitality and good health that I had once had.

A short while ago I worked with two ladies in the community who had developed depression. It had been overlooked for so long by the time I came along to manage their care, they had been given a diagnosis of ‘dilerium’, a term I had not heard for a long, long time. Both ladies had stopped eating, drinking, washing, dressing, smiling, talking and were simply not coping with their lives and were eventually hospitalised for treatment. Our hospitals did not cope well with these ladies. One had to be moved from the mental health ward as she was at risk of being harmed by other, less tolerant in patients. The Dementia/ Rehabilitation ward was not too keen to have her either, yet she could not cope at home and she was not safe to be there. Both ladies took around 6 months to heal and it was a very slow process involving a lot of dancing with psychotic medications, nutritional advice, regular routines implemented and lots of loving kindness provided.

Mental health issues can surface at any time and affect anyone of us. 40% of Australians and New Zealand adults will experience mental illness at some time in their lives – that is reportedly 1 in 5 people. 6.2% of Australians and New Zealanders’ it is reported have had an affective disorder within the last 12 months. Depression was the most prevalent at the time of the study accounting for 8%. Women had a higher rate overall at 5.1% then men at 3.1%. The rate was higher for those aged between 16 – 44 years (7.6%) and 55 – 85 years (5.3%). I have come accross a lot of older women who have been given the diagnosis of depression from their GP and been put on Cilazapril, they are very, very reluctant to go off it as they see it as their lifeline to happiness and coping with everyday life.

There are many contributing factors that affect our mental wellbeing. Nutritional deficiencies or excesses, hormonal imbalance, infections, inflammation, blood sugar imbalance, stress, anxiety – which is estimated to be at 15% of the New Zealand population. Toxicity, poor detoxification and elimination, relationship difficulties and methylation issues. All of these can create additional stress in our body systems and put pressure on our already overloaded nervous system.

Because depression can be a side effect of nutritional deficiencies there is a thorough case take and food diary component at a naturopathic consult. People can eat well, yet not be absorbing the nutrients they are consuming. They may need a slight increase in good fats to help balance mood and increase energy or be encouraged towards more leafy greens and increased fibre to help with digestion and elimination. The naturopaths role is to elevate mood, improve energy and vitality and promote a positive life balance. Here are a few simple options for when you recongnise that low mood happening;

Nutrition

  • Ensure enough protein is being eaten.
  • Stabilise blood sugars
  • Focus on ‘whole foods’ a mediteranian or wholefood type diet is recomended.
  • Increase omega 3 essential fatty acids from healthy fats.
  • Avoid stimulants that exhaust, atigue or depress our mood.
  • Identify and avoid allergies.

Lifestyle

Move – research tells us exercise like walking in fresh air for 30 minutes a day improves mood.

Reduce stress – get a regular massage, do yoga, meditate, include mindfullness into your daily life. Find a way.

Herbs

  • St Johns wort is a sonderful helpful mood enhancing herb that can be grown in your garden and used in salads or as a tea.
  • Lavender -I love lavender. I love the colour, the taste, the smell, I love everything about this plant and it has a soothing quality about it that brings a calm and loving feeling into your life. Get some lavender flowers and make some tea with the flowers. Beautiful.
  • Withania and Tulsi Tea – are also helpful to use to enhance mood, stabilise blood sugars and works on the whole body.

Your local naturopath can help gently stear you in the right direction if you need help with depression, anxiety or any mental health issues that are hampering you.

In Loving Kindness
Karen Noble

BNat Med, Naturopath, Medical Herbalist, BN, RN