Anxiety, ADHD & Depression – Our World Today
Instances of Anxiety, ADHD and Depression are on the rise. I doubt many would argue with this statement. Evidence shows that are many contributing factors to this trend including dietary lifestyle, toxicity and lack of key nutrients. Add to this, the impact of stress on our bodies, which magnifies the negative affects of these basic causes, and you get a society that is becoming increasingly dependent on, arguably, ineffective prescription medications.
Anxiety, ADHD & Depression - My Experience
Nearly ten years ago, I walked into my doctor’s office and said something to the affect of, “ Doctor, something’s not right. I am experiencing anxiety every afternoon. I am becoming increasingly angry for no justifiable reason and my thoughts are scattered. This is not normal for me.” As you can probably guess, he whipped out his prescription pad and ordered an anxiety medication.
In the beginning, the medication worked! I was feeling calmer, less scattered and overall, just, better. Fast forward six months and I was back in my doctor’s office. The medication had stopped working. So once again, he took out his pad and wrote a prescription. This was #2! A year later I was taking a grand total of three different drugs, but did not feel any better. In fact, the side affects, such as failing eye sight and extreme moodiness, only added to my growing list of problems. I began searching for alternatives.
Dr. Daniel Amen – Amen Clinics
In looking for answers, I came across the work of Dr. Daniel Amen, a well known, board certified Psychiatrist and Neuroscientist. Dr. Amen is popular for his adoption of SPECT imaging to evaluate brain function. This type of test involves scanning the brain to determine areas of high and low blood flow. In essence, a brain SPECT imagine will identify if a person has too much or too little activity in specific regions of the brain.
Put simply, Dr. Amen leverages the results of the SPECT scan, along with patient history and general cognitive testing to determine the condition from which the patient suffers. Following the diagnosis, Dr. Amen applies his expertise of the brain, neurotransmitters and their affect on mood and focus to create an appropriate treatment plan. Treatment plans often include a combination of recommended dietary changes, detoxification, as well as amino acids and other supplementation.
I quickly subscribed to his program, completing a cognitive assessment. What I learned was astonishing! My suspicions were validated. I was experiencing signs and symptoms of a specific type of ADD, referred to has Over-Focused ADD. The characteristics of which can be found below.
• Lack of focus
• Trouble shifting attention
• May or may not include hyperactivity
• Often gets stuck in loops of negative thoughts or behaviors
• Obsessive and inflexible
• Worries excessively
• Get upset when things do not “go your way”
• Frequent oppositional and argumentative behavior
Now that I understood what I was dealing with and how to treat it, naturally, I was ready to, finally, get off of prescription medications!
For more information about Dr. Daniel Amen, visit www.amenclinics.com.
How to Stop Prescription Drugs for Anxiety, ADHD & Depression
Diet is important. The right diet is critical. Food is much more than calories. It is a set of instructions to your body for how to operate. The #1, absolute, best way to improve your mood and focus is through food. Arguably, for the vast majority, the most effective dietary lifestyle for overall health and well-being, both physically and mentally is a well-formulated Ketogenic approach. For those of you who are unfamiliar, a Ketogenic diet is low in carbohydrate, high in fat and moderate in protein and done correctly will induce a state of nutritional ketosis (fat burning).
There is a myriad of good reasons for adopting a Ketogenic lifestyle. Having said that, despite of the growing body of evidence supporting the benefits of this diet, most people find the idea of it extreme. Because I want to give the topic the justice it deserves, I will save it for another day.
Top 4 Recommended Dietary Supplements
People seem to expect magic in a pill form. I hope not to disappoint with my top four recommendations for leaving your prescription medications behind. To be clear, my first recommendation is a change in diet, as mentioned above. With the right dietary changes, the need for supplementation is greatly reduced.
#1 - GABA
GABA or Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid is a neurotransmitter that blocks specific forms of communication in brain pathways. Evidence indicates that low levels of GABA are linked to increased anxiety, various mood disorders and, more recently, ADHD.
More over, studies show that when given GABA orally, test participants experienced increased Alpha waves and decreased Beta waves 60 minutes after administrating the supplement. This findings indicate that GABA, both, improves relaxation and reduces anxiety.
People, across the globe, have been taking GABA to receive the following benefits for hundreds of years.
- Improve mood
- Relieve anxiety
- Improve sleep
- Help with premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
- Treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
There are two forms of GABA supplements that I take regularly. They are both under the brand name GABA Calm.
Source Naturals GABA, 750mg, Calm Mind is a capsule that I take each morning. It promotes a calming affect that is much appreciated when navigating a high stress work environment!
The second supplement is a lozenge, made by the same company. It is Source Naturals GABA Calm Sublingual Peppermint, Calm Mind. These are a favorite of mine and come in handy during times of high stress. For me, this is when I fly (which I do frequently) and when I am exposed to extreme heights. You simply pop one in and let is dissolve, preferably under the tongue. You will feel more relaxed after about 25 minutes or so. By the way, these also come in an orange flavor.
#2 - 5-HTP
Many people are familiar with the neurotransmitter, serotonin. Low levels of this brain chemical are widely known to have the following impacts.
- Poor sleep
- Unhealthy appetite
- Poor sexual function
- Affects perception of pain
5-HTP, short for, 5- Hydoxytryptophan is a precursor to serotonin. In other words, it is an ingredient to serotonin production. There is a library of research showing that 5-HTP, in supplement form, is highly absorbable, capable of crossing the blood brain barrier and effectively increases serotonin production.
I take 50-100mg of 5-HTP daily. The dosage is directly related to the amount of stress I anticipate experiencing that day. On weekends or while vacationing, I typically take the lower amount and sometimes nothing at all, especially if I am having fun in the sun!
Natrol makes a really good, time released product. I buy the 100mg tablet then break it in half to reduce the dosage, as needed. This stuff really helps with sleep quality, although I find that it is better to take this in the morning or afternoon to get the best sleep results. I am very interested in hearing your feedback once you’ve tried Natrol 5-HTP Mood Enhancer for a few weeks.
#3 - L-Tyrosine
Keeping with the trend of discussing amino acids for mood, appetite control, stress relief and mental focus let’s talk about L-Tyrosine. L-Tyrosine aids in the production of neurotransmitters including dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. We have already spent quite a bit of time discussing serotonin so we focus on dopamine and norepinephrine.
Low dopamine levels are widely associated with lack of focus and concentration. Tyrosine is an ingredient in making dopamine, along with iron, folate, vitamins C and B6 as well as tetrahydrobiopterin. I was taking Vyvanse, a stimulant, to raise my dopamine levels and improve focus. As is typical, in the beginning, it worked great, but over time, I found I had to increase the dosage to get any continued benefit. Like many prescription medications, taking Vyvanse came at a cost. The side effects included a gradual decline in eye sight as well as daily anxiety.
Like dopamine, norepinephrine is known to impact mental clarity and overall concentration. Additionally, it sustains effort and motivation and helps maintain alertness. Dopamine is actually a precursor to norepinephrine production in the brain. Realizing this, it makes sense that if L-Tyrosine is needed for dopamine synthesis, it also impacts the levels of norepinephrine in the brain.
I find that because I am following a ketogenic eating plan, I rarely need to supplement with L-Tyrosine these days. In the beginning of this great adventure, however, I used it regularly. I’ve tried a few different brands and dosages and ultimately landed on Now Foods L-Tyrosine 750MG. It is not uncommon to take upward of 3000MG to get a therapeutic affect, but I did well enough on 1-2, 750MG capsules a day.
#4 - Magnesium
You will notice a trend in my posts with regard to the benefits of magnesium. It is for good reason. Most American’s are deficient in it. When you consider that magnesium plays a major role in more than 300 biochemical processes, it is not hard to understand that not getting enough can be highly impactful to your overall health and well being.
Magnesium wears many hats including but, certainly, not limited to the following.
- Energy creation
- Protein synthesis
- Help create and repair DNA
- Regulates muscle contraction
- Assists in the regulation of neurotransmitter communication (see the relationship to the first three recommendations?)
- Relieves the affects of stress
- Has known anti-inflammatory affects
- Can relieve migraines
Because magnesium is a mineral and not very bioavailable, it is most effective to get magnesium through natural food sources. If supplementation is needed, and I have found that is usually is, you want to take a liquid or chelated (high absorption) form.
It’s for this reason that I take Doctor’s Best High Absorption Magnesium. I regularly take 200MG daily and will take an additional 100MG in the afternoon if I have am having an unusually stressful day. I never leave home without my magnesium!
To reduce or eliminate signs and symptoms of Anxiety, ADHD and Depression, the best thing you can do is to change the way you eat. Going Ketogenic may put some people off, but taking the first step is not that hard. Commit to eating real food. Stay away from fast food and processed “food-like” substances and you will start seeing the benefits! In the interim, you will see profound affects from introducing one or more of these supplements, daily. Stacking them is recommended for best results.
Thanks, as always, for reading!
*Remember to check with a health care professional before making changes to your diet, including the introduction of supplements.