Healing depression and anxiety

Symptoms of depression and anxiety can be treated nutritionally.

by Dr. Tricia Pingel — 

Many people will make their way into the doctor’s office with complaints of fatigue and anxiety or lack of energy, drive and focus. In many cases, attending physicians dispense anti-depressants (sometimes like candy), such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) as a means to treat symptoms of depression or anxiety.

These patients are actually experiencing problems with the neurotransmitters in their brains, most notably dopamine, epinephrine, norepinephrine, GABA and glutamate. SSRIs block neurotransmitter pathways and often result in a vast array of side effects, including sexual dysfunction, nausea, nervousness, weight gain and insomnia. Many people who are placed on SSRIs are so worried about what will happen if they stop taking them that they feel stuck, having to take a drug with adverse side effects.

What is commonly missed in traditional drug treatment is the fact that depression and anxiety are caused by an imbalance rather than a disease. When dopamine levels are elevated, anxiety or hyperactivity can develop. When epinephrine and norepinephrine levels are too low or too high, anxiousness, stress, sleeplessness, weight gain or poor concentration can occur. GABA levels regulate the activity of glutamate, which prevents overstimulation and affects memory and learning capabilities.

Symptoms of depression and anxiety can be treated nutritionally. Natural therapy minimizes particular neurotransmitter pathways instead of blocking them, reducing side effects and providing patients with a natural, safe and effective way to treat their symptoms.

When a patient seeks the medical advice of a naturopathic physician for depression or anxiety, he or she is administered a very simple urine test or, in the case of adrenal gland problems, a saliva test. Neurotransmitter levels and deficiencies are then measured through the urine or saliva products.

Once it is determined which neurotransmitters are unbalanced, nutritional therapy can help restore balance by modulating pathways. Amino acid-based compounds that create this balance are prescribed, along with B vitamins and sometimes natural herbs.

Every patient is different and requires different levels and combinations of amino acids and vitamins. A common herb prescribed to accompany these nutrients is Rhodiola rosea, a plant with adaptogen properties that has been used for centuries to treat depression and anxiety.

Patients who seek help for depression or anxiety do not have to suffer the effects and dependency on SSRIs. People can, through nutritional therapy, avoid taking pharmaceutical drugs, and restore balance and health.


Dr. Tricia Pingel is a naturopathic medical doctor in Scottsdale, Ariz., who treats a variety of conditions, including infertility, thyroid disorders, anxiety/depression, gastrointestinal concerns and bio-identical hormone replacement. or 602-845-8949.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 29, Number 6, Dec 2010/Jan 2011.

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