By: Dr. Tricia Pingel, NMD
Many people make their way into their doctor’s office with complaints of fatigue, anxiety, or lack of energy, drive and focus. In many cases, attending physicians dispense anti-depressants, (some times like candy) such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) as a means to treat their symptoms of depression or anxiety.
What these patients are actually experiencing is problems with the neurotransmitters in their brains, most notably Dopamine, Epinephrine, Norepinephrine, GABA and Glutamate. SSRI’s block neurotransmitter pathways and often result in a vast array of side effects, including sexual dysfunction, nausea, nervousness, weight gain and insomnia.
Most often when people are placed on SSRIs they are worried about what will happen if they stop taking them, so they are stuck taking a drug with adverse side effects. What is commonly missed in traditional drug treatment is that depression and anxiety are caused by an imbalance rather than a disease. When dopamine levels are elevated, anxiety or hyperactivity can develop. When Epinephrine and Norepinephrine levels are too low or too high, anxiousness, stress, sleeplessness, weight gain or poor concentration can occur. GABA levels regulate the activity of glutamate, which prevents over stimulation and effects memory and learning capabilities.
Symptoms of depression and anxiety can be treated nutritionally. Natural therapy minimizes particular neurotransmitter pathways instead of blocking them, reducing side effects and providing patients a natural, safe and effective way to treat their symptoms. When a patient seeks the medical advice of a naturopathic physician for depression or anxiety, he or she is administered a very simple urine or, in the case of adrenal gland problems, a saliva test.
Neurotransmitter levels and deficiencies are then measured through the products of the urine or saliva. Once it is evaluated which neurotransmitters are off, nutritional therapy can help restore balance by modulating pathways.
Compounds based from amino acids create this balance and are prescribed along with B vitamins and sometimes natural herbs. Nutritional therapy helps restore balance to hormone levels and neurotransmitters.
Every patient is different and requires different levels and combinations of amino acids and vitamins. A common herb that is prescribed to accompany these nutrients is Rhodiola rosea, a plant with adaptogen properties that has been used for centuries to treat depression and anxiety.
The average patient that seeks help for depression or anxiety does not have to suffer the effects and dependency on SSRIs. People can, through nutritional therapy, avoid taking pharmaceutical drugs and restore balance and health.
About Dr. Pingel: Dr. Tricia Pingel is a naturopathic medical doctor located in Scottsdale, AZ. She treats a variety of conditions, including menopausal symptoms with bio-identical hormone replacement, infertility, thyroid disorders, anxiety/depression, gastrointestinal concerns, such as, gas/bloating, food allergies, celiac disease, IBD, and more!
Please visit www.drpingel.com for more information.