How Do You Know When It's Time For Antidepressants?
Back in my early 20s, I was scheduled for a doctor's checkup. As is usually the case, I spent a few hours waiting to be called in. During that time my blood sugar dropped majorly — snack-packing failure! — so by the time I got to see the doctor, I was so upset and hungry that I started crying when I expressed my frustration to her about the long wait.
Without blinking an eye, the doctor whipped out her prescription pad and asked me if I'd like to get on Prozac.
You can imagine my reaction: “Absolutely not, thank you!" I know enough about blood sugar management and hormones to know that it wasn't clinical depression that was causing my breakdown — it was food.
I tell you this story today to introduce the extremely important topic of mood management and hormonal balance.
Way too many women are being prescribed medications for symptoms that are actually not depression, but rather are hormonally-induced mood changes.
If you're wondering whether or not your symptoms call for medication or the more natural route of food therapy support, continue reading!
How Prozac and other SSRIs work
Plain and simply, SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), of which Prozac is one, help your brain take in more serotonin. Serotonin is one of the main neurotransmitters that makes you feel happy. So it seems like if your brain can take in more of it, you'll be happier — right? Not exactly ...
If your body isn't making enough serotonin in the first place, it doesn't matter how much Prozac you're taking because you'll still have the same underlying problem.
And guess what? Ninety-five percent of the serotonin you have is produced in your GUT! This means that the food you're eating has a MAJOR impact on how much you can make in the first place.
If you don't have a clinically diagnosed mental illness — which we'll explain more about shortly — you don't want to be on SSRIs. The side effects of these medications are so powerful that you'll kill your sex drive, put on weight, and experience a range of other unpleasant side effects.
Signs you don't need medication:
Here's a list of signs from your body that indicate food and lifestyle therapies would be extremely beneficial and that you therefore most likely DO NOT need medication:
If your blood sugar is on a roller coaster, much like my example from the doctor's office above, it means you're messing with your brain chemistry, which can lead to your feeling blue or anxious.
It's actually normal to feel differently throughout different times in your cycle. Women tend to be more social, outgoing, and positive in the first half of their cycle (i.e. the follicular and ovulatory phases) and more inwardly focused, sensitive, and easier to fatigue in the second half (the luteal/pre-menstrual and menstrual phase). You may have judgments about these mood shifts that can also compound the feeling that something is wrong with you. It's not. This is a normal brain chemistry change.
Moments of anxiety or high stress
If you experience what feels like a panic attack while executing normal daily functions, or if you function on high levels of stress or anxiety, you may or may not need medication. You definitely need to work on supporting your adrenal glands through your diet and lifestyle, either way!
Signs medication can help:
Here's a list of signs and symptoms from your body and mind that indicate you most likely DO need medication:
Obsessive-compulsive activities and thoughts that interfere with your quality of life.
When you can't get out of bed in the morning, have no appetite, and it feels hard to do anything.
Severe anxiety or panic attacks
When you feel like you're dying or having a heart attack. When it gets to the cardiovascular levels, it's an indication you've reached the point where medical help is important. But as stated above, a lot can be done naturally to reverse the effects of stress and heal your adrenal glands.
Other psychological diagnoses
These can include bipolar disorders, borderline personality disorder.
Please note that I'm not trying to diagnose or treat you here, but rather am giving you points of reference to help assess your own symptoms. It's important to see a doctor to help you determine what's best for you, and if you go into your doctor's office already well informed, you'll be so much better off.
If you're ready for more support with your hormones and moods, take my Hormonal Evaluation Quiz now and learn exactly what your body and hormones are trying to communicate to you! This quiz is essential if you're looking to get to the root of your symptoms and overcome your hormonal health issues once and for all.
Ready to learn more about what anxiety, brain health, and your diet all have in common? Register now for our FREE Functional Nutrition Webinar with Dr. Mark Hyman.