Healing My Depression and Anxiety Naturally

January 22, 2019

I have a passion for wellness; from good food to natural skin care products, the sky is the limit! I travel all over the world with my hubby, blogging as I go and I would love for you to follow along!

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DISCLAIMER:  this post is not meant to diminish people’s walks with mental disorders, and I am by no means saying all mental illness could be cured through natural remedies.  It is imperative that you consult a medical professional before discontinuing any medication (the withdrawals from anti-depressants are SERIOUS and going cold turkey could be detrimental to your health) and it’s important to also ask before adding any supplements into your regimen especially if you are already on medication. 

My Struggle With Anxiety And Depression:

On and off since I was a little girl, I have battled with anxiety.  When I was in the 7th grade I was put on anti-depressants to help with my extreme lows and panic attacks – after about a year I was weened off of them so my body wouldn’t become dependent, but the depressed feelings still hadn’t seemed to go away.  

Throughout my life I have had some intense lows; some that I can remember off the top of my head: 

In college I fell into a deep depression during my sophomore year, causing me to have constant panic attacks.  I took myself off birth control after speaking to my physician, which seemed to be extremely helpful at that point in my life (If you are experiencing depression and are prescribed birth control I suggest looking into this).  

Another time in my life that I struggled immensely was after I lost my father to suicide.   My panic attacks began to come back STRONG which pushed me to smoke marijuana heavily.  After years of heavy marijuana use I decided to quit smoking which in turn brought back some anxious feelings but at this point in my life the feelings manageable.  

Then this past year hit, and I found myself once again in an emotionally fragile place.  Between an intense traveling schedule and planning for a wedding, I began to have such bad anxiety that I felt as if I couldn’t eat due to nausea and stomach pains, which then caused me to lose a considerable amount of weight, which in turn made panic EVEN MORE… you get the picture. 

At this point I was desperate for a solution that didn’t involve medication –  I decided to attend a class on anxiety held at lemon Laine featuring Dr.Motley – a well-known chiropractor and kinesiologist in Nashville.  He spoke about healing depression and anxiety naturally and that these feelings could essentially be an indicator of something more internally happening within us.  Using some of the tools Dr.Motley spoke about mixed with my own research I decided to dig in.  Here’s what I found…

 

What Is “Depression” and What Causes It?

Depression is rooted in inflammation of the body, not necessarily the brain.  Our body is a lot smarter than we give it credit for – it creates symptoms for a REASON.  Depression/anxiety are significant symptoms that are indicating something is not matching up; whether it’s your lifestyle, diet, not enough exercise, lack of sunlight, too much medication, an unhealthy environment, too much stress…

Inflammation is the way our body tells us that something is out of balance and that it needs attention.  Often we mask these feelings or symptoms with medication, drugs, etc. but that doesn’t get to the ROOT of the problem.  Of course, trauma contributes to anxiety and depression as well, but it is what we do to cope with that trauma that matters. 

 

How Can We Start Treating the Symptoms?

In six decades, there has been no concrete evidence that a chemical imbalance in the brain causes depression.  Many cases of depression and anxiety can be related to irregularities in the body.  Kari Green M.D. put it this way – your toe can hurt, and the cause could be a variety of different things; from infection to stubbing it, or wearing too tight of shoes; the hurting is just giving you a reason to investigate into the cause, so why would depression be any different?

What if you found out your depression is actually a food intolerance?  A side effect to medication?  Or a thyroid imbalance?  In today’s society, we want a QUICK FIX – but at what cost?  We need to start looking at depression as an opportunity to figure out what imbalance might be occurring in our body versus covering it up.

 

Gut Health

As I said in my recent blog post, most of our serotonin is created in our gut, and if we have an unhealthy gut or poor digestion, we are more likely to suffer from mental illnesses.  

Have you ever heard the saying “go with your gut instinct?” – For centuries we have used our gut to help give us intuitive signals.  Think about it – when we fall in love we get butterflies in our STOMACH, when we get nervous for a big event or performance it can cause diarrhea, and when we are sad or depressed we lose our appetite.  These feelings are our gut sending information to our BRAIN, using inflammatory messengers. 

Depression is a sign of inflammation – it is our body trying to tell us we need help.  So how do we show our body we are safe?  You can start by feeding your body WHOLE FOODS, and by attending to your gut health.  

So how exactly do we heal our gut?  You can read my blog post HERE to get started.  Want to know more about Kelly Brogan M.D.’s thoughts on mental illness and the connection to our gut?  Check her out HERE.

 

Exercise

Exercise is essential for our overall mental and physical wellbeing.  If we don’t get up and get our body moving, you can bet our body will take a toll.  

So how does exercise help?  

  • Exercise releases feel-good endorphins and other natural brain chemicals that improve your mood. 
  • Exercise helps take your mind away from depressive and anxious thoughts.  PLUS exercise can help show you that you can accomplish tough things, in turn improving your overall outlook on life. 

So how much exercise is needed?  

You should aim for at least 20 minutes of high-intensity interval training 4-7 days a week.  You can do this type of training on an elliptical, weight training, barre class – the key is getting your blood PUMPING. 

 

 

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is an ancient form of Chinese medicine that has been used to help heal people physically AND mentally for centuries.  Treatment for anxiety and depression using acupuncture is unique from person to person because every body’s underlying cause for anxiety can be different.  

In most cases you won’t see results for at least 4-6 weeks so remember, we are not looking for a QUICK FIX, slow and steady wins the race.   You will need to attend appointments regularly at the beginning (somewhere around two sessions a week), and then after six weeks of treatment, you can gradually taper off to acupuncture once a week.  

In my experience acupuncture has HUGELY lessened my anxiety symptoms and contrary to what many people believe, you won’t even feel a majority of the needles being inserted.  BONUS: it’s a great way to add some much-needed mediation into your weekly routine! 

 

 

 

Therapy

So many people think of therapy as a “dirty word.”  We are embarrassed to share that we’re seeing a therapist out of fear of judgment when in reality most people SHOULD see a therapist.  We all have baggage, areas we could improve upon, etc. and sometimes speaking to a third party can be the most beneficial for breaking through the barriers created by anxiety and depression.

Don’t be afraid to “shop around” for a therapist; sometimes it can take a while to find the right fit. 

For those who have experienced severe traumas I suggest looking into EMDR therapy, it is incredibly beneficial for those who suffer from illnesses such as PTSD.

Photo Cred: Peyton Fulford

 

 

Supplementation

As we talked about above, depression is often a sign of imbalance – in many cases it could be a symptom of a vitamin deficiency.  So what sort of supplements can you add into your routine to help combat the symptoms of depression and anxiety: 

  • 5HTp: 5HTp is a chemical our body makes from L-tryptophan.  We can’t find 5HTp in food, but we can eat foods rich in L-tryptophan to help our body produce 5HTp. Foods high in L-tryptophan: seaweed, turkey, chicken, sunflower seeds, pumpkin and more.  5HTp can help raise your brain’s serotonin level, which in turn can help ease symptoms of depression.  
    • Find my favorite 5HTp supplement HERE.

 

  • Omega 3 fatty acids: Omegas are essential for several different healthy functions of the body, from heart health to neurological health.  We can get Omega 3’s specifically through foods including fish, nuts, and seeds.  Some studies have found with regular Omega supplementation that patients had reduced depression symptoms.
    • Find my favorite Omega 3 supplement HERE.

 

  • B Vitamins: B-Vitamins are necessary for brain health, they produce and control the chemicals that influence mood and other brain functions.  Low levels of B-Vitamins have been linked to depression.  Get more Vitamin B through high-quality meats, fish, dairy and eggs.
    • If you are a vegetarian, it is crucial for you to get a high-quality B supplement OR if you know you have a hard time staying consistent with regular supplementation I suggest looking into getting a B-12 shot once a month.
    • find out if you have a vitamin B12 deficiency by testing serum vitamin B12 levels and homocysteine levels
    • Find one of my favorite B-Complex supplements HERE

 

  • -Vitamin D: many people who have depression tend to have low vitamin D levels (most Americans struggle to meet their vitamin D needs), adding a vitamin D supplement into your daily routine can ease symptoms of depression.  600 IU is the daily recommended amount but if you are deficient your doctor may advise you take more.  
    • Find out if you have a Vitamin D deficiency by testing levels of 25OH vitamin D in the blood
    • My favorite Vitamin D supplement can be found HERE

 

Some superfoods I LOVE to help combat anxiety: 

  • Mucuna Pruriens:  is a natural herbal supplement used in Ayurvedic medicine, that lowers stress, reduces anxiety, improves focus, boosts the libido, and elevates mood.  I use mucuna pruriens powder in my tea every morning, and I LOVE it!  HERE is a less expensive variety of mucuna that is wonderful! 

 

 

Get Better Sleep

Have you ever noticed after a lousy night of sleep that you wake up feeling out of sorts the next day?  Studies show that a lack of proper sleep can affect emotional regulation and thinking which in turn can exasperate feelings of depression and anxiety.  

So how do you get better sleep? 

  • Keep electronics out of the room and move your phone away from the side of your bed.  Electromagnetics can have a negative impact on your sleep patterns.  
  • Keep the air clean in your bedroom.  Dust and allergens can affect your sleep if your nasal passage gets congested.  Clear the air in your room with an air purifier (this has been a GAME CHANGER for me) 
  • Get into a sleep routine.  Going to bed and waking up at the same time can help regulate your sleep cycle.  Consistency is key.  
  • Encourage better sleep with supplements.  Sometimes no matter what you do you still feel like you can’t catch a good night’s sleep.  If this is the case, try adding supplements such as CBD oil or Magnesium (or both) to help improve the quality of sleep you get. 

 

 

Step Away From Social Media

Research shows that those who use 7-11 social media platforms in comparison to those who use 2-0 are three times more likely to have depression and anxiety.  It’s hard to know whether it’s because of the extended amount of time on social media or if it’s the negative online experience (mean comments, comparing to online profiles, obsessing over followers and likes) but regardless there is a reliable connection between social media and depression.  

Studies show cutting back on social media use helps with diminishing feelings of loneliness – researchers think this has to do with feelings of FOMO – fear of missing out when watching other people’s stories on social media.  

Secondly, there is a strong connection between multi-tasking and poorer attention, cognitive abilities and mood; if you are consistently doing two things at once, it is more than likely going to start impacting your overall wellbeing.  

Suggestions: 

  • minimize the number of platforms you are on – choose which platforms are most rewarding for you.  
  • Set screen time limits on your phone – this way you can ensure you don’t waste all your extra time staring at your phone.  Balance is vital, try limiting screen time to an hour a day. 

 

 

Change Your Surrounding Environment

Living in a toxic environment can most definitely affect your mood, so how can you make your space less stressful? 

  • Turn on the lights and open those blinds!  Research shows rooms with bright light can improve symptoms of depression and anxiety. 
  • de-clutter your home.  Research shows having more clutter and objects in our visual field leads to distractions.  Get rid of the clutter, and you’ll find yourself more able to focus on the task at hand. 
  • Let go of things that don’t bring you joy.  Marie Kondo – star of “Tidying Up” on Netflix focuses on this principle when deciding whether or not you keep or ditch an item. Using this method will allow you to let go of the things that are no longer serving you. 
  • Add in REAL plants.  Did you know houseplants can drastically improve the air quality inside your home?  Invest in some greenery, and you’ll find yourself breathing better in no time.
  • Organize.  If you always live in chaos, you will find yourself lacking motivation, BUT if you take an extra minute a day to put things back where they belong, you’ll see you’re more likely to impact your overall behavior and motivation to act.   

 

Meditation

Mediation has a LONG list of benefits – but one of the biggest pluses has to be its ability to help reduce anxiety and stress.  Meditation can help diminish physical discomfort and improve concentration while boosting your ability to THINK before reacting.  

In today’s society, we are always surrounded by chaos and let’s be real – chaos demands our attention.  Meditation will help you learn how to quiet your mind when everything around you might be screaming for your attention. 

Meditation takes practice and will not be comfortable right away.  Think of it as an exercise for your brain.  Start small – think 3-5 min of meditation a day, from there you can build to 15 min or even 30 if that feels good for you!  Try using apps to help guide you such as “Simple Habit” or “Insight Timer.”  

 

 

 

Remove Triggers

Whether its caffeine, toxic friends/family/relationship, or a job that no longer serves you – life is too short to keep holding onto the negative.  Letting go may be difficult, but if it is saving your sanity, then it’s time to let go of the toxicity. 

Photo Cred: cwote.tumblr

 

Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

If you battle anxiety, you’ve probably asked yourself the question “why am I so anxious?” or “How can I get rid of my anxiety?” and the answer is you don’t always need an answer, and it’s not always in your best interest to eliminate anxiety-inducing situations. 

I know this might sound crazy, but there is research behind this theory.  If you continually avoid the things that cause anxiety, whether it be social anxiety, you’re germaphobic, etc. you give those things more POWER over you.  If you keep fighting the fear and feeding the feeling that something terrible is going to happen, then you are only going to create MORE anxiety.  You have to accept that you’re anxious, and let the feeling dissipate.  

Sure, if a car was heading right for you and your brain tells you that there is danger and to get out of the way – that anxiety is essential.  But when we start to have false thoughts that we misinterpret for actual risk, you are training your brain to be more reactive to those negative thoughts.  So move towards your anxiety, let yourself feel it, and eventually, you can walk through it. 

 

Get Tested

There are some tests you can do to see if there is an underlying health issue that is causing your mental struggles.  Some tests that Kelly Brogan M.D. suggests getting done are: 

  • Thyroid function tests: TSH, free T3, free T4, thyroid autoantibodies, and reverse T3
  • Underlying genetic variant: the MTHFR gene test (the MTHFR gene produces the MTHFR enzyme, methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase, which is essential for several bodily processes that directly tie into mental well-being)
  • Levels of inflammation: High-sensitivity C-reactive protein
  • Blood sugar balance: Hemoglobin A1C

The comments +

  1. Abdulmajeed

    January 23rd, 2019 at 3:24 pm

    Hi, i want to say thank you for this. I’m sure that it’ll help me a lot. I wanted to ask you something. I have depression and severe social anxiety, and i do most of the things that you talked about, i exercise and i eat well, i used to be really skinny but now i’m in better shape and i’ll keep going. I started seeing a therapist last year and she helped me understand myself and deal with
    things better, and that’s good. I feel like i’ve grown a lot and i’m on the right track. The thing is, i always push myself to do the things that make me uncomfortable, like meeting other people, being around my family and going out,
    not missing a lot of college days and things like
    that. And it helps, like u said, when i make myself feel those things instead of hiding, i deal with it much better. But i’ve been through a lot of situations where i got really anxious and started
    having those bad feelings, and although i’ve
    talked about it and i feel like i’m at peace with it, like i can think of a bad memory right now and i feel like i’m okay, i understand and accept it. But sometimes they’ll hit me suddenly when i least expect it, i’d have those flashbacks and i start
    feeling those things again, but this time it’s worse. So i guess my question is, what can i do more to help with it? if i’m already treating myself well and growing and doing
    better. Thank u, much love💙

  2. Bridgette Doremus

    January 23rd, 2019 at 9:15 pm

    Have you done testing on your vitamin levels/thyroid? This could be adding to your anxiety. Also if there is trauma related to your anxious feelings I would look into trying EMDR therapy! You can look it up on youtube 🙂 I hope this helps and know you are not alone!

  3. Zoe

    January 23rd, 2019 at 7:35 pm

    Thank you so much for writing this. I have struggled with my own battles of severe depression, anxiety, and ed for a while. This last year has been the first time I’ve actually been able to think and live as a normal human, and I definitely have to give credit to Our Lord and Mary His Mother, eating quality nutrient dense foods, and finding proper balance of everything I do due to better meditation on spiritual reading. I agree with what you have written and have thank you for helping me in some other small ways to overcome other struggles by opening up with your own battles. You help more than you know. God Bless

  4. Bridgette Doremus

    January 23rd, 2019 at 9:15 pm

    So glad to hear that you are on the road to a healthier happier you! God bless you 🙂

  5. Shana

    January 23rd, 2019 at 7:52 pm

    Thank you for sharing this. I lost my mom to suicide and I also struggle with anxiety. I’m going to give your tips a try 😃 you are truly an inspiration.

  6. Bridgette Doremus

    January 23rd, 2019 at 9:16 pm

    So sorry that you had to endure that pain, I hope this helps in some way so you don’t have to live with all that anxiety anymore!

  7. Shana

    January 23rd, 2019 at 7:54 pm

    Thanks for sharing this. I lost my mom to suicide and also struggle with anxiety. I’m going to give your tips a try. You are truly an inspiration!

  8. Rachel

    January 23rd, 2019 at 9:59 pm

    That was a great article! I have PTSD and I’m looking to come off my meds slowly. I have already came off some. But it’s so hard not to comfort eat! But I know that sugar and fatty foods are not good for my anxiety and overall health! I work at Pulse Centers and we specialize in PEMF therapy. It quick starts your cells in the area that your body is most deficient and helps clean the toxins out of your body. ( If you haven’t heard or experienced this machine I would definitely recommend you to research it for yourself). But with these tips and my access to PEMF therapy I think I will be successful! Thank you again for being so upfront and honest about your issues and experiences! ❤️

  9. Bridgette Doremus

    February 3rd, 2019 at 2:30 am

    Amazing! I hope your journey coming off medication goes as smoothly as possible. I would try to focus on adding MORE healthy foods so you have less room for the bad versus focusing on elimination. Grab fruit when you’re craving sugar, carrots and hummus when you’re craving salty – prepare yourself with lots of healthy options!

  10. Caitlin

    January 23rd, 2019 at 10:44 pm

    Hi,
    Your blog is very helpful and this post especially for me. As a 16 year old girl I’ve struggled with anxiety, panic attacks, self harm and very high social anxiety. Social anxiety is one that very much affects me and the only way I’ve got over it is woth alcohol, I hope to change this as I know this is very unhealthy amd could be dangerous as I’m only 16. Your blog is very helpful although Im very shy or scared to ask for help, thank you for posting about this. I’ve recently started going
    to the gym consistently for about 2 weeks now and have got a membership and although I’ve a long way to go I think I’m making steps to improve my mental health.

  11. Bridgette Doremus

    February 3rd, 2019 at 2:29 am

    I would reflect on what is making you feel the most anxious about social settings – then ask yourself what you can do to dimish those fears. For me, I learned my social anxiety came from my fear of looking “imperfect”. I have learned to try and give myself the same grace I give others so I don’t feel so anxious.

  12. Sarah Cropkins

    January 23rd, 2019 at 11:31 pm

    I’m only 13 and my sister is only 15 yet she makes me so anxious and angry and she overall is just rude and toxic. I try to tell people but al they do is try to give me advice or say “you’ll move out when you’re 18” and tell me to brush it off but none of that helps. I’m legitimately only 13 and do want to move out because I don’t know what else to do.

  13. Bridgette Doremus

    February 3rd, 2019 at 2:27 am

    Have you tried speaking to your parents? Or seeking counseling at your school? I hope things look up for you!

  14. Eden

    January 23rd, 2019 at 11:43 pm

    The timing of this post is a miracle! This last week all these symptoms have started up, and I have been scouring for solutions in health! Been following you for three (or more) years now, and I trust the results I’ve seen from your posts!
    Quick question… I’m a teenager in a large family, so naturally budget and food are packaged. But I don’t want to let anything get in the way of my passion for health and fitness.
    Are there any go-to heath or detox products you know that would be affordable to buy on my own?
    Thanks so much! I have been needing this blog!

  15. Bridgette Doremus

    February 3rd, 2019 at 2:25 am

    I would suggest shopping at places like trader joes or kroger for your produce and groceries! Don’t worry about detoxing – just focus on getting more real foods that don’t come from a package – thanks for following!

  16. Ali

    January 24th, 2019 at 12:39 am

    This is a great post!! 🙂 It’s amazing to see how little changes slowly add up to make big changes happen in our bodies! You’re awesome for sharing this!

  17. Bridgette Doremus

    February 3rd, 2019 at 2:24 am

    thank you for reading!

  18. บาคาร่าออนไลน์

    January 25th, 2019 at 6:10 pm

    Good day! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would be
    okay. I’m undoubtedly enjoying your blog and look forward to new posts.

  19. Bridgette Doremus

    February 3rd, 2019 at 2:24 am

    I do – you can follow me at “Bridge_Fit” – thank you!

  20. Mary Ashley

    February 3rd, 2019 at 3:51 am

    Hi Bridgette! Thank you for your authenticity and vulnerability. This post was so validating to me and my journey. Last January, I cracked open my “trauma egg” at a women’s healing intensive. I had been in a cycle of anxiety and guilt for about four years. It seemed like everyday I was either faced with anxiety about an upcoming situation (big or small), then after whatever situation it was, I would feel loads guilt (I know now that it was lingering shame), but could never pinpoint why. At the healing intensive, I shared with a small group of women the years of built-up and suppressed grief, loss, and shame from traumas I had experienced. Just two days after the intensive, a 6-year dormant EBV activated in my body. I began therapy and EMDR, a support group, and heavy reading about the things I had been through. But the trauma was stored deep in my body – and although I was very active in my therapy – by August I had EBV a second time. It opened my eyes to the reality of trauma being stored in our minds, hearts, and BODIES. I switched to a plant-based diet, and began supplementing with holy basil, chlorophyll, spirulina, biotin, ashwaghanda, and an occasional CBD-oil tea. I cut out alcohol and have developed a routine yoga practice. I started following Dr. Motley’s instablog in November and his insight has been so helpful to me. I didn’t realize how much the trauma I was holding in my body (some from decades ago) where effecting me DAILY. Not to mention, the inflammation from eating meat and diary didn’t help my worrisome nature. Your post was so reassuring to me that I am on the right track. Therapy is amazing and has helped exponentially, but the diet and supplements I have researched on my own (after getting little relief from standard american medicine). I am so appreciate your honesty – and I feel even more encouraged that I am on the right track to whole healing and wellness.
    -Mary Ashley

  21. Lina Casiano

    February 6th, 2019 at 4:49 pm

    The only thing I disagree wit is that when ur in love u don’t get butterflies bc when ur in love your so comfortable with the other person that u don’t get nervous around them so u don’t get butterflies, u get butterflies when u have a CRUSH, not IN LOVE. When your in love you can be comfortable with the other person.

    Ik is off topic but wtvvvv
    Also thx for the blog is rly good

  22. Madgeeking

    February 13th, 2019 at 6:48 am

    I didn’t know about your father. I am so terribly sorry. Please accept my deepest condolences.

    I have depression that I assume is caused by my faulty thyroid. Right now, I can’t have it removed because my heart is under too much stress. I’m trying to lower my heart rate.

    I think you’re spot on. I became vegan a year and a half ago in an effort to reduce causes of inflammation. It’s helped enormously. Radically improved my quality of life. Before I was in constant pain.

    I’ve been admittedly lazy when it comes to exercise and meditation. But you and Nathan have inspired me like no other. And I’m committing to making the change. So… Thank you, Thank you, thank you so very much!!!!!

    I also wanted to mention chiropractic adjustments. It works in a similar way to acupuncture.

  23. Anikó

    February 16th, 2019 at 1:20 pm

    Thank you for your recommandations, I will try the 5HTP. But I will pray for you if you don’t mind, that you can turn to Jesus Christ with all your heart instead of meditation and such things. I have borderline with depression and God was, who healed and heals me now. I wish you a blessed marriage!

  24. Louise

    September 10th, 2019 at 2:52 pm

    I don’t seem to find where it says that you actually recovered. Could you clarify?
    Thank you

  25. Bridgette Doremus

    September 15th, 2019 at 8:57 pm

    I still deal with occasional anxiety due to a hyperactive thyroid but my panic attacks have gone away and most days I live completely anxiety free now.

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