by Marcelle Pick, OB/GYN NP
If you have been experiencing feelings of depression or anxiety or have had symptoms of other mood disturbances, please know that you’re not alone. Up to 70% of the women who come to the Women to Women clinic are already taking prescription medications for symptoms like yours. Some women may experience relief from their symptoms initially, but the side effects of antidepressant medications are not all beneficial. There is hope though – a natural approach can work to treat the underlying cause of your symptoms.
Why do women so commonly suffer from problems with their moods? What makes our approach different and effective? Our approach is based on the belief that our bodies interact with our biological makeup in unique ways, based on our emotional experiences. Current research backs this up.
As an example, many women I see grew up in homes where physical as well as emotional pain and anxiety pain prevailed, so they duplicate these circumstances in their adult lives; this is what feels “normal” to them. Many women with mood disorders had dysfunctional families of origin, setting the stage for what they consider to be normal.
Other women may have been subject to various factors during their lives that set off mood dysregulation in many different forms. Thinking about a chemical imbalance, poor diet alone can be the final straw for a woman who is already stressed-out. Our daily lives are filled with potential stressors in the form of toxins, pollutants and endocrine disruptors that have changed our overall neurochemistry.
Today’s culture also adds insult to injury. In order to be winners, we’re told to censor any negative psychosocial issues; those who don’t are considered to be weak and undeserving. We’re reminded “Don’t worry, be happy.” In other words, don’t be a nut job.
Looking at all these factors helps to explain the prevalence of depression and anxiety in our country. It’s easy to understand why women want to “fix” their mood troubles quickly and quietly by taking a pill. Conventional methods tell us we can either medicate our mood or “learn to live with it.”
I know we’re smarter than that. We know by intuition that life isn’t that easy. We try so hard to do everything “right” but sometimes life just isn’t pretty and picture perfect. In all of our striving for success externally, we avoid the internal work that allows us to reach developmental goals with our body, minds and spirits intact.
Making a journey through our life’s pleasure and burdens requires self-care and inner discoveries. There are alternative choices, apart from drugs to help along the way; options that are safe and natural. Many have been shown by research to be equally, if not more effective than prescription medications.
Depression, anxiety and other mood disorders are not all in your head. These issues develop as a result of neurochemical imbalances. These imbalances disrupt the pathways that regulate your mood. What causes the imbalance is usually a combination of many factors: life stress, environmental issues, toxicity, emotional history, biochemistry and genetics. When a woman comes to me with physical and emotional symptoms, we look together at her whole story to see what could be causing her problems.
There is hope. Each of these stressors can be addressed. You can take one small step at a time to personally make changes. Begin to see yourself as a whole person, who has value and great worth as a woman.
By using an individual plan that measures dietary approaches, nutritional supplements, exercise, body work, and sometimes talk therapy or bioidentical therapy, most women can begin to rewrite their emotional stories. You can have a new story too, with chapters that include a dynamic and emotionally fulfilling life.