Mood is a very personal, individualized, and often private thing. You may be experiencing sadness, loss of joy, interest or pleasure, weight changes, insomnia, over sleeping, physical challenges, fatigue, feeling worthless, feeling excessive guilt, or recurrent thoughts of death. Many people suffer from low mood or depression but are unaware of the types of support that are available to them.
What should I do if I suffer from low mood?
It’s important to know that no matter how you’re feeling, you’re not alone, and there are many different types of support that your Naturopathic Doctor can offer to you.
a) Investigate the cause
There are many reasons that you may be experiencing low mood and depression. Hormone imbalances, gut health, serotonin and dopamine production, genetics and family history, nutrient deficiencies, insomnia, and environmental circumstances can all contribute to our mood. It’s important assess all these factors and address the underlying cause in order to successfully support your mood.
b) Nutritional support
Serotonin is a hormone that controls mood. It’s 90-95% produced and stored in the digestive tract. It is made from protein, and I often see protein deficiency as a direct cause of low mood. Other nutrient deficiencies like low iron, low B12 and low vitamin D can also contribute to low mood, and should be tested and corrected as part of your treatment plan.
c) Herbs and supplements
There are many herbs and supplements that can directly increase our serotonin levels and improve our mood. Some have been shown to be equally or more effective for treating mild to moderate depression than anti-depressant medications, without the side effects. I firmly believe that supplementation should be part of a wholistic plan to support our mood, and should never be used without a long term plan for coming off of the product.
It’s important to note that many herbs and supplements for mood interact with medications like the birth control pill, heart medications, sleep medications, and anti-depressants/anti-anxiety medications. Always speak with your ND before starting any supplements to support your mood.
d) Lifestyle factors
Exercise has been shown to increase endorphin release to give us pleasure. Acupuncture is wonderfully beneficial for people experiencing low mood. Meditation, journaling, and stress management can also be wonderful tools for supporting mood. Supporting healthy sleep habits is also an important aspect of treating depression and low mood.
e) Talk therapy
I almost always refer patients for therapy as part of their treatment plan. This may include CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) or traditional talk therapy, and we can decide together what feels like best fit for you.
f) Pharmaceutical treatment
Some people prefer to use pharmaceuticals, or are on pharmaceuticals and would like additional support. In some cases, your ND might recommend that you do go on an anti-depressant medication if your symptoms persist or are severe.
It is your body and your treatment plan is your choice, so I will always work with you to find treatment options that feel safe and comfortable for you, including supporting you while you’re taking medications.
If your goal is to reduce or come off of your prescribed medications, then I will work with your prescribing physician to develop a plan together that is safe and effective.
The Bottom Line
Your mental health is important, and a low mood should not be overlooked. Speak with your Naturopathic Doctor to investigate and treat the underlying factors contributing to your low mood, and help you to find the assistance you need to keep your mood in a healthy place.