Guest Writer for Wake Up World
When I fell into a deep depression in 2010, I felt like I would never be able to escape it. Doctors made it seem that antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication were my only options. That was it. I was left in the dark. I had no other options and nowhere to turn, so I had to resort to pharmaceuticals.
Since then, I’ve travelled down a road of intense research and self-experimentation. I found solutions that weren’t conventional and mainstream, and I witnessed significant improvements in my mental health. I’ve learned that you don’t need drugs, the medical system or a doctor to overcome depression, anxiety and mental disturbance. You need to tap into the magnificent healing potential of your body.
I also now understand that many doctors don’t proactively keep up on new research outside their clinical practice, and therefore don’t understand the full range of treatment options that have become available in recent years. There are many better solutions, and the drugs that your doctors give you are not optimal – far from it.
So today I’m going to share with you three valuable, cutting-edge solutions that helped me overcome my chronic depression and anxiety, so that you can become more resilient yourself.
We all have electrical activity and impulses in our brains called brainwaves, which play a huge role in controlling our attention, thoughts, behaviours, and the regulation of our bodily systems. Therefore, any changes in our brainwaves can have a profound impact on our health.
Brainwaves fall into five distinct “bandwidths” depending on their frequency — delta, theta, alpha, beta and gamma. An electroencephalogram (EEG) is a particular test that can detect these brainwaves, and EEG research shows that some people have excessively high or excessively low levels of brain activity in one or more of these bandwidths, leading to mental and behavioural abnormalities.
(In my case, certain parts of my brain made either too many or too few brainwaves that were too fast or too slow, and this manifested itself in the world as depressive, anxious behavior and inattention. I wrote about my experience with the treatment here.)
Neurofeedback (also known as EEG biofeedback) is an advanced training technique that provides real-time information about your own EEG activity. Neurofeedback allows people to develop and strengthen healthier brainwave patterns and rewire the electrical functioning of the brain. It’s essentially exercise for the brain. Over time, you learn to increase brain-wave patterns associated with concentration and relaxation, and decrease those associated with tension and inattention. You produce new, positive brain patterns, and let go of old, maladaptive patterns. Gradually the brain learns to regulate itself. And just like any other type of learning, the brain tends to retain the new skill.
Neurofeedback has been shown to be effective in treating a number of conditions commonly seen in clinical settings, including anxiety, depression, ADHD, OCD, PTSD, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, sleep disorders, addiction, and learning and developmental disorders, among many others [see references #1–9.] An extensive list of published studies on neurofeedback can also be found at www.isnr.org, and an evaluation of its effectiveness for different disorders at www.aapb.org.
Unfortunately, I suffered for years before I discovered neurofeedback and sought out a qualified practitioner. If you’re interested in exploring this option, you can find a BCIA Board Certified Practitioner in your area here.
Turmeric – the spice that gives curry its yellow colour – may be one of the most powerful healing foods for your brain.
Thousands of high-quality scientific studies have been published, looking into the hundreds of active compounds within turmeric. Curcumin is the most heavily researched compound within turmeric and has been shown to have a many medicinal properties, including anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.
A number of studies show that curcumin is a natural antidepressant, working significantly better than placebo and working just as well as Prozac in the treatment of depression, but without side effects. It’s also been shown to reduce stress hormones and increase serotonin and dopamine in the brain, our “feel good, happy” neurotransmitters [10-18].
Curcumin can also help people manage stress and anxiety. In one study, it reduced “stress-related depressive symptoms” in animals exposed to chronic stress. In other words, it made them more resilient .
The effectiveness of curcumin on depression and the brain can likely be traced back to its anti-inflammatory effects. Almost every chronic disease – including depression, anxiety, PTSD and Alzheimer’s – has been linked to chronic, low-level inflammation. People with clinical depression in particular have been shown to have 30 percent more brain inflammation than the general population [20-23].
Curcumin also boosts Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), a hormone that increases the growth of new brain cells, and is linked to improved brain function and a lower risk of mental disease. People with depression and Alzheimer’s have reduced levels of BNDF in their brain [24-28].
It is difficult to experience the full therapeutic effects of curcumin by simply eating turmeric because only about 3% of turmeric is made up of curcumin. On top of this, curcumin is not very efficient at absorbing into the bloodstream and reaching the brain . To increase the bio availability of fresh turmeric, consume with an oil base and a pinch of black pepper. There are also supplements available that contain significant amounts of curcumin with increased bioavailability. Based on my experience and research, the most effective form of curcumin for the treatment of brain and mental disorders is Longvida curcumin. It’s formulated in such a way that its active ingredients are able to cross the blood-brain barrier. I take it every day.
(For more information on turmeric and depression, please see: Groundbreaking Study Finds Turmeric Extract May Be Superior to Prozac for Depression.)
There are approximately 100 trillion microorganisms and 500 known bacterial species living in our gut. That means there is 10 times more bacteria cells in our bodies than human cells. Simply put, we are more bacterial than we are human .
Gut bacteria affect our nervous, hormonal and immune systems and play a key role in countless bodily functions, including the digestion of food and production of vitamins. So, not surprisingly, the makeup of these bacteria in our system can affect how we feel physically and mentally.
But our modern lifestyle isn’t good for our gut bacteria. Stress, bad diet and medications can reduce probiotic (good) bacteria and increase bad bacteria in our digestive tract. A lot of people today have out-of-balance and dysregulated gut bacteria. So if we want to regain optimal mental health, it’s critical to restore and support the “good germs” in our gut.
When I worked to increase the good bacteria in my gut, I saw improvements in my physical and mental health, including my depression. This makes sense consider the impressive new research showing that there is a connection between our brain and our digestive tract, and that the bacteria in our gut can have a profound influence on our behaviour, thoughts and mood. There’s also evidence that healthy gut bacteria produce and regulate the amount of neurotransmitters in the brain (such as serotonin, dopamine and GABA), which can affect mood, pain and cognition [30-32]. In fact, a growing number of scientists and practitioners around the world are researching and speaking out about this, explaining that the gut-brain connection can be hacked to treat psychiatric disorders.
Taking a high-quality probiotic is one way to do this. Probiotic supplements add good germs to your digestive system, and providing your body with a diverse array of friendly bacteria can significantly reduce your susceptibility to the negative effects of stress. Researchers have found that mice are less anxious when they are fed probiotics, and numerous studies have shown that humans experience less stress, anxiety, rumination, hostility, depression and aggression when supplementing with probiotics [33-40]. Some species of probiotics have also demonstrated an ability to reduce stress hormones and increase tryptophan, serotonin and omega-3 fatty acids in the brain, all of which play a role in proper mood and cognition [41, 42].
So by increasing the amount of good bacteria in your gut and reducing your bad bacteria like I did, it’s possible to improve the health of your brain and experience more mental resilience. I take the probiotic “Prescript Assist” on a regular basis.
(For more information, please see the article: How Microbes in the Gut Influence Anxiety and Depression.)
Despite all the research demonstrating the powerful brain health promoting mechanisms of these treatments, the pharmaceutical industry and conventional medicine seem to ignore them. They threaten pharmaceutical industry revenue. Unless they can be transformed into patented substances, the pharmaceutical industry doesn’t have a financial incentive to research and promote them to physicians. Unless an investor is willing to pay millions of dollars upfront to pay for multi-phased, double-blind, randomized control trials, they will never be approved for clinical practice and prescribed by your doctor.
(For more information on this, please see the articles: Licensed to Kill: Psychiatry, Big Pharma and the State-Sanctioned Drug Cartel.)
Thankfully, although the “drug model” of disease remains prevalent, you don’t have to wait around for all of this to happen. You can take control of your own mental health and try these solutions for yourself.
To your health!
The Grocery Shopping Guide for Optimal Brain Health
- Group Drumming Better Than Prozac, Study Suggests
- Scientific Links Between Processed Foods and Depression
- Landmark Study Links Pesticides to High Depression Rates
- How Anxiety Works and How You Can Dissolve It
- Depression & Anxiety: Discover Three Powerful, Drug-Free Ways that Help Thousands, Naturally
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About the author:
Jordan Fallis is a journalist, freelance writer and biohacker. His work has been featured in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, Canadian Pharmacists Journal, and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
Jordan spends a lot of time scouring medical research, writing about what he finds, and testing different theories on himself. Through his research and self-experimentation, he has discovered unconventional solutions to mental illness that have allowed him to permanently overcome his own depression and anxiety.
His passion is sharing these cutting-edge discoveries with people that desperately need them. You can read about his ideas and breakthroughs at OptimalLivingDynamics.com and connect with him at Facebook.com/OptimalLivingDynamics and Twitter.com/Jordan_Fallis.