Tag / stress

What Causes Depression

Dr. Sonya Nobbe, ND

So you’ve been told that you have a deficiency of the “happy” brain chemical serotonin, and that a drug will help you feel better by increasing your body’s response to serotonin. But what caused that serotonin deficiency in the first place? And what will happen if you neglect to address this underlying cause by relying solely on the medication?

Research clearly demonstrates that chronic stress can cause serotonin deficiencies and depression. Many of us would agree that spiritual or emotional stress incurred during childhood or in our jobs and relationships, can lead to depression. But chronic ‘stress’ also applies to physiological (body) stress. Stress from chronic illness can stimulate biochemical processes (e.g. inflammation), in the body that “steal” nutrients otherwise used for serotonin production, thereby contributing to depression symptoms. This stress biochemistry is a survival strategy that our bodies have used theoretically since the caveman age, and we haven’t adapted yet to our fast-paced North American culture.

Our bodies are built to manage short bouts of high stress, such as what you might feel if suddenly attacked by a wild animal. Our bodies are not biochemically equipped to manage any amount of chronic stress, no matter how low grade, and no matter whether emotional, environmental, or physical. When “healthy” biochemical processes are put on hold in favour of those that support our stress response, nutrients are depleted, normal wear and tear on our bodies is not repaired, our bodies switch to inefficient energy production processes (i.e. we feel tired and ‘old’), and chronic disease progresses.

What common health conditions can cause this shift in our body’s biochemistry and drop in serotonin?

Chronic Hurry and the Holiday Season

~ Brooke Vlachos, RMT

“Live in each season as it passes; breathe air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each. Let them be your only diet drink and botanical medicines” Henry David Thoreau

Hurrying is often associated with unpleasant tasks. We rush through things we feel we have to do thinking: “I just HAVE to get this finished”. What should be a blessing: picking out or creating the perfect gift for a loved one, making homemade egg nog, or cleaning a house that will soon be filled with family and friends, becomes a begrudging chore, a TASK. We are so busy rushing from task to task, especially at this time of year that it’s very easy to miss out on enjoying what makes this time so special.

My advice for the healthiest of holiday seasons is simple:

Insomnia… Drug-free relief.

~ Dr. Sonya Nobbe, ND

Our ability to enjoy good quality sleep is one of the ultimate indicators of balance in our lives. Sleep is a reflection of our relationship with our external environment and it enables us to connect internally to our subconscious mind in the form of dreams. Many ancient medicines use dreams and a person’s sleep habits to help identify imbalances so that a prescription for whole mind-body wellness can be determined. Conventional medicine considers restorative sleep to play a critical role in the proper functioning of our mood, hormones, and immune system. Disordered sleep is a risk factor for a multitude of health conditions, including breast cancer and heart disease.

Insomnia is Such a Pain… In More Ways than One

~ Dr. Christina Vlahopoulos, ND

Sleep disturbances can be one of the more prevalent complaints in people with chronic pain. Of course it is hard to relax and get to sleep when you cannot get into a comfortable position. However, what if it was your lack of sleep that was making your pain worse? Or maybe it was the lack of sleep that caused your chronic pain in the first place?

Recent research has shown a reciprocal relationship between chronic pain and sleep. Some studies showed that sleep deprivation indeed caused an increase in pain perception in previously healthy adults. The participants felt overall muscle and joint pain, tenderness and fatigue. Therefore, the less sleep a person got, the more pain they felt.

Better than Bio-Identical

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In 2003, Dove soap commissioned a global study in which only 2% of women described themselves as beautiful. Dove followed this with an advertising campaign called “Campaign for Real Beauty”, which defied the fashion and beauty industries by promoting “real women” as beautiful. Their ads contrasted the “tighter… firmer… younger…” media messages with messages such as “beauty has no age limit”. Dove criticized the popular anti-aging movement and put pro-aging on the map. Unfortunately, the company that owns Dove, Unilever, was later criticized for the digital photographic touch-ups of their “real” women models, and for the absolute contradictory message promoted in their women-objectifying Axe Body Spray ads (available on youtube). Marketing analysts suggest that Dove didn’t really believe that a truly pro-aging approach could work.

Beauty, youth, and “anti-aging” are often central concerns for women transitioning through hormone changes known as menopause. Misguided cultural and medical perspectives categorize menopause as a disease state characterized by hormone deficiency, which can be “fixed” with treatment. In her book The Wisdom of Menopause, Dr. Christiane Northrup outlines our “cultural inheritance”, in which Hormone Replacement Therapy was advertised by doctors in the 1960s as “the pill that would keep your husband from understandably leaving you for a younger, more beautiful woman”. Decades later, facets of this perspective still affect our culture, our medicine, and the women currently experiencing menopause. Some geographers believe that this negative cultural definition of menopause is exactly the reason why we experience significantly more serious menopausal symptoms than most cultures.

Though menopausal symptoms are common and sometimes severe, menopause is a normal and healthy part of growing older that can be symptom-free.