Meds for Moods

by Connie Hernandez, ND

Psychiatric meds are, at best, a mixed blessing.

I’ve had many friends and patients who’ve been brought back from the brink of despair with psychiatric medications, and others whose wild mood swings from elation to depression have been evened-out by those meds.

Psychiatric medications do work some of the time, and in some cases they can be lifesaving.

The problem with these admittedly useful meds is that it’s very far from clear that the premises upon which they are base are scientifically sound.

Dr. Connie Hernandez, ND
Dr. Connie Hernandez, ND

The depressing truth is that, while we can manipulate our moods to an extent with psych meds, we don’t actually understand how they work. Nor do we understand their long-term repercussions, nor are we sufficiently respectful of their side-effects, which can vary from simple drowsiness, to suicidal ideation.

The assumption behind modern anti-anxiety and antidepressant meds is that the source of our emotional ills is material and physiological – that they are caused by imbalances in the chemical neurotransmitters in our bodies and brains.

Hence the meds are designed to rebalance these neurotransmitters – generally by disrupting their natural processing. And that’s a big concern, since Nature can be very unforgiving when we disrespect Her ways.

There are natural remedies that are based on the same assumption as mainstream psych meds – that disrupted neurotransmitters are the source of our anxiety and depression. These natural therapies operate by prescribing various amino acids that operate as precursors to the neurotransmitters.

For example, prescribing serotonin and norepinephrine and epinephrine precursors can re-balance our neurotransmitters without disrupting the intricate neurotransmitter system, and without significant side effects.

A number of other factors can contribute to a neurotransmitter balance. We all need the nutrients that nourish the neuroendocrine pathways, and there are many of them, including B6, B12, folate, vitamin D, lithium, and magnesium.

For proper brain function, our thyroid, adrenal, and sex hormones must also be in proper balance.

The risk, of course, is that “balance” is a deceptively simple word. It evokes images of a scale, where adding a bit of this or that on one side brings the scale into perfect balance.

In actual life, however, especially where the very delicate and intricate workings of the human nervous system are involved, balance may require constant readjustment. Thus, simply taking X amount of precursor Y, day after day, year after year, is highly unlikely to be a realistic solution.

Beyond the many nutritional, botanical and hormonal underpinnings of our moods, we find a broad array of lifestyle factors that can help balance (or unbalance) our physical, mental, and emotional status.

Too much work and no play, for example, can severely stress the adrenals and create imbalances that lead to mood disruption. A habit of soldiering through an untenable lifestyle may lead to serious emotional and mental impairments.

If you find it impossible to leave or change an untenable situation, or to change your response to the situation, your happiness is bound to suffer.

If you know you aren’t doing what you feel you should be doing with your life, your mood will suffer.

If you face a terrible loss, you’ll experience grief and possibly depression as a normal aspect of the human condition.

These aren’t biochemical problems that can be instantly cured by taking a pill. They are problems that may require long-term lifestyle changes, seeking counseling or coaching, undertaking an intensive spiritual search, and/or shifting your attitude.

Sometimes it isn’t enough to imagine that we’ve been placed in our circumstances to help us evolve and grow. In many cases, it’s far better to take off our rosy-colored glasses and face the need for a change.

We must find the ability to understand, with a sure inner knowing, that there’s something better that we want, and that we want it more than the status quo.

With a hopeful outlook, you may find happiness where you previously felt anger and depression. Change is seldom an easy road, but the burden becomes lighter when we can see a bright light at the end of the struggle.

To find the strength to be victorious, we simply need to tap the very powerful desire at the heart of all human longing – the universal yearning for greater happiness, and freedom from suffering and sorrow.

Whether we’re taking mood meds as a helpful temporary support, or if we’re taking natural nutrients, the power that can bring change to our lives is ultimately our own, inborn longing for greater happiness and inner freedom.

To learn about Dr. Connie’s work, follow the link to her Naturopathic Health Consultations website.

For information about the services we offer at Pacific Naturopathic, please give us a call at 650-961-1660, or use the convenient Contact Form to get in touch. Thank you!