As I’ve mentioned before, I take care of a lot of anxiety and depression. Life is hard. While I am not opposed to using medications to help with anxiety and depression, I always emphasize these other important factors in healing. If you find yourself feeling shame as you read these, stop yourself there. You didn’t make yourself feel this way by not exercising, for example. But if you want to feel better, we probably need to come at this issue from multiple angles.
Make sure you are eating regularly! Not eating can certainly worsen your mood. And as best you can, eat foods that are good for you. Lots of fruits, veggies, nuts, fish, meat, eggs, etc. Try to avoid foods high in sugar. Try to avoid foods that are highly processed (does it look like something that just came off a plant or animal? If not, it is best to minimize this type of food).
Regular exercise will help your body better manage negative energy and has been shown to help significantly with depression. I recommend that you start doing some sort of physical activity that you enjoy at least a couple of times per week. Start small! Your goal is to eventually get up to 150 minutes per week of exercise.
Meditation/Mindfulness (everyone should be doing this!)
There are so many ways to be mindful or to meditate and this can be so critical for helping with anxiety and depression. There are YouTube videos, apps for your phone, and even old school paper handouts I can get for you. I enjoy doing short meditations with my patients in their visits sometimes! Check out some videos about the 4-7-8 breathing exercise, a short meditation practice that can really help reduce anxiety throughout the day and also wind down before sleep. Here is a link to a YouTube video by Dr. Andrew Weil.
You may benefit from adding several vitamins/supplements to your daily routine. These can be bought at any grocery or drug store in the supplements section. Note: Supplements vary in their quality. See my other blog post HERE for more information.
- B-complex vitamin once daily. (Should take around 1mg of B12 and 800mcg of folate)
- Vitamin D supplement once daily (Should take around 800-1200 IU per day). Getting outside in the sun for at least 20 minutes 3 times per week without sunscreen is as effective at increasing vitamin D in your body as taking a vitamin.
- Fish oil supplement once daily. This supplement should contain a type of oil called EPA and another called DHA. The supplement you choose should have around 600-1200mg EPA and 400-800mg DHA.
- Magnesium. Around 400mg per day. I like a magnesium drink powder called “Calm” that is available at most grocery stores in the supplement section.
If you are using marijuana regularly, this is likely to make anxiety and depression worse. I would recommend no longer using this drug at least for a while until we can get things under control. Then if you want to re-introduce it in a slow and steady way and you live in a place where its use is legal, go for it! Just be mindful of worsening symptoms.
Consider acupuncture. It can be very helpful for anxiety and depression. Some insurances cover it, most do not. If it is not covered, you can use your HSA funds to pay for sessions. Many acupuncturists will offer “group acupuncture sessions” that are typically much more affordable than group acupuncture sessions. We have some great acupuncturists in New Braunfels.