Anxiety and Depression, underlying causes and ways to overcome it
Anxiety is the most common mental health condition in Australia, and on average 1 in 4 people will experience it at some stage in their lives. 1 in 6 women and 1 in 8 men will experience some form of depression in their lives, and in total roughly 3 million Australians are living with depression or anxiety.
I was never an anxious or depressed person. I didn’t really understand what people felt and why they felt it. It is a strange time for me, though, to admit that I now have experienced anxiety myself, and it is something I have had to learn to overcome. Now though, I completely understand just how horrible it is and how debilitating it can feel, like you want to escape your own body. I had the benefit of the doubt, as I am a Gut and Psychology Syndrome Practitioner, have done seminars on this topic for many years now and worked with many clients, so I could quickly aim to cover all bases to overcome it. Of course, there is always still SO much to learn, and all the gut research is very, very new. So our knowledge will continue to grow over time.
Essential elements to cover; nutrition, herbs, gut, emotional experiences and lifestyle.
My problem started when I was experiencing insomnia, and since then, I became anxious leading up to bed time, and then slowly but surely the anxiety trickled it’s way through into my days, for 'no reason at all'. I am free of anxiety now, though it may make it’s way into my life during stressful times, though I know exactly how to deal with it, which you can find below.
I want you to realise that you can feel happiness. You can feel balanced. You can feel confident. You can feel beautifully calm. You can and you will.
But nothing will change if you don’t make a change. Whilst it may take time and commitment, it is totally worth it.
Firstly, it could be starting in your gut
Sometimes we can’t help the feeling we have, no matter how GOOD life is. So what is going on in the body? Your gut health is highly likely causing your emotional issues that are somewhat unexplainable. A huge percentage of our mood regulating neurotransmitters are produced in your gut, and this includes serotonin, dopamine, GABA, adrenaline, noradrenaline, melatonin and more. These are all absolutely essential in creating balanced moods, happy thoughts and feelings. You may have a microbial overgrowth that is stealing your nutrients and altering your mood, or an undergrowth of beneficial microbes that are leaving you deficient in vital mood enhancing neurotransmitters like serotonin and GABA.
Critical examples to get your head around it:
- Parasites manipulate your brain to allow them to live easily and thrive, and the presence of parasites has been linked countless times to anxiety and depression. They alter our neurotransmitters and hormones in order for humans to do what makes the parasite thrive.
- Bacterial overgrowths has been linked to depression.
- Low levels of GABA has been linked to nervousness, anxiety, insomnia and overthinking.
- Tryptophan, made by Bifidobacterium in your gut, is the precursor to serotonin, which reduces anxiety and depression.
- Low levels of beneficial microbes show increased cortisol, therefore heightened anxiety and depression.
- High levels of streptococcus is linked to depression, anxiety, OCD, sleep issues, psychosis and memory loss.
- Low levels of beneficial E.coli can lead to sleep issues, anxiety and depression.
- Probiotics, prebiotics and faecal transplants have all been highly beneficial in alleviating anxiety and depression.
What to do about it?
When was the last time you did a parasite cleanse? Never? Well time to consider it.
Historically, we did them 1-2 times a year with beautiful natural herbs that date back since our existence. Antiparasitic herbs have been found in the gastrointestinal tract of bodies in Ancient Egypt from many thousands of years ago. It is best to do this under guidance of a practitioner, because you want to do it properly and you want to be using the right herbs. I walk clients through a gut healing protocol constantly, ensuring the biofilm over the microbes are broken down, a temporary low sugar/carbohydrate diet is adhered to and much more.
Consider cutting out the inflammatory, processed foods, as what we eat directly influences what is living in our gut. Remove sugar, vegetable oils, wheat/gluten, corn and unfermented soy. These are just some of the foods that may be causing inflammation, digestive issues, feeding the microbial overgrowths in your gut, and all in all leading to mental issues. Removing these may make a huge difference to your mood and overall health, though there may be other foods beyond the ones mentioned causing inflammation in your body. I suggest seeking advice for looking into things a little deeper and becoming more specific on what you are eating if you need to, though this is your first step.
Get your gut tested via a poo test! If you feel you are doing all the right things, then it is time to get tested and treat the imbalances with a practitioner you trust.
Other VITAL ways to treat, reduce or deal with your symptoms
Particular adaptogenic herbs
I absolutely love mood regulating adaptogenic herbs. The ones I love in particular include ashwaghanda, lemon balm and tulsi, all of which are wonderful at reducing anxiety, reducing cortisol levels and enhancing your mood. I use them all in tea, powder, extract or tablet form, and add the powder to my food like the below Turmeric Latte with ashwaghanda. Lemon balm has been proven to have anti-anxiety effects and mood enhancing abilities. Ashawaghanda has been proven to lower stress responses, and tulsi has also shown to have mood enhancing abilities.
Magnesium, magnesium, magnesium
It is great for calming the nervous system, and a deficiency has been linked to anxiety. Moreover, supplementation has been shown to reduce symptoms of depression. Initially and through stressful times, supplementation may be useful, though I have regular Epsom salt baths, particularly when I am stressed! Cacao is rich in magnesium, so it is another reason to indulge in homemade, sugar free choccy panna cotta or brownies.
Zinc, zinc, zinc
I do a zinc taste test with my clients, as it can assist in fighting against overgrowths in your gut, enhance your immune system, balance your hormones and your mood. If you’re deficient you may need to supplement with a high quality liquid zinc for a period of time until you’re topped up, otherwise consume zinc rich foods like pumpkin seeds, spinach, oysters, liver, chicken, lamb and so on.
Increase your beneficial microbes
Probiotics that your individual body needs. This is an important note, as you do not want to go increasing microbes that you are already too high in. The safest bet without being tested are the Kultured Wellness cultures (enter SHERIDANAUSTIN for 10% off), which do not contain strains that many are typically elevated in, are histamine lowering, and are ridiculously potent and will help fight overgrowths of parasites, bacteria and viruses. Other ways to increase your beneficial microbes is to eat real food, rich in fibre from vegetables and resistant starch.
The combination of sunshine, grounding and being present are just a few of the incredible elements of getting outside that can contribute to enhancing your mood, lowering your cortisol levels and reducing anxiety. Commit to going outside daily, it is an essential supplement for overall good health.
Your subconscious could be ruling your emotions
Ensure your subconscious emotions aren’t creating the problem as well. Whilst all the above will help your symptoms or even treat the problem, sometimes we need to dig deeper into what may be the underlying emotions that are causing you to feel certain ways in certain situations. I love seeing a kinesiologist, and Ruth Hotson is my favourite on the Sunshine Coast. Kinesiology allows you to get an answer sooner and skips the guessing part, so it is pretty handy and incredibly effective. Otherwise, dig deep into the WHY’S. WHY are you doubting yourself, WHY are you afraid of XXX, WHY do you let XXX bother you, WHY do you hate getting home, WHY do you surround yourself with people you know aren’t good for you. Once you find out these why's, work on training your subconscious to think otherwise, or learn from the underlying issue and move forward.
Do something to take your mind off everything
Whether it be running, 3 deep belly breaths, surfing, yoga, meditation, mountain bike riding, art, cooking, or whatever you personally enjoy. You know what it is deep down, you just need to do MORE of it. For me, surfing, swimming, yoga and deep breathing is critical to my emotional and physical survival. I struggle to get to yoga classes, so I use online yoga that I can do at any time, and it is SO good.
And lastly… lower the pressure on yourself and be grateful instead
Myself, along with many people around me, are finding that societal pressures are increasing more than we can cope with. It could also be my age… like… ‘am I really only here at this stage in my life’, ‘am I really on the right path’, ‘I wanted to achieve so much by now’, ‘I am growing up faster than I can handle’, ‘what the heck I might have a kid with me in the next few years’, ‘how the heck can I make enough money to support the lives we want to live’ and so on and on. Whilst these thought processes are good because they challenge and push us along to achieve more, they can bring anxiety on in itself. Instead – try and be grateful for everything you have, not what you don’t have, and to do this, you may need to stop comparing yourself to those on social media. Be grateful for the little things; your working limbs, your bed, your roof, the sunrises and sunsets, the walks in nature, your loved ones around you, your favourite song and more.
I really hope this helps you in your daily life, or just get through some stressful times. Please, let me know what has worked for you, if you are going to try any of the above, or if you already have!
Sheridan Austin xx