Home » Treatment » Holistic Treatments for Depression and Anxiety

Holistic Treatments for Depression and Anxiety

angry doctor on the phoneI guess you could say my big accomplishment for the day was finally calling not one but two psychiatrists … and leaving them messages because I semi-intentionally waited until after 10pm. The first, whom I’ll call Psychiatrist C-1, has an office within walking distance of Wakana’s and is reportedly available on the same days I have music therapy. Two of Wakana’s colleagues referred Psychiatrist C-1 to her, so she in turn referred him to me; she even called me earlier today to make sure I’d at least attempted to contact him. (I’ll file that one under “Tough Love.”)

The second, whom I’ll call Psychiatrist C-2, is the one who received 9 5-star reviews on HealthGrades and whom I mentioned in my last post. I’m actually a bit more inclined toward her because I know for sure that she takes my (current) insurance, she got much better reviews on HealthGrades, and I won’t be doubly-screwed if I don’t feel up to making the trek to Wakana’s office on a joint music therapy and psychiatry day. But, I’ve taken the “passive aggressive” approach of leaving messages and waiting to see who returns my call, instead of directly “confronting” each of them with my request to meet face-to-face. So, now all that’s left is to wait … at least until my next music therapy appointment (in less than 12 hours), when I suspect Wakana will “strongly encourage” me to try again.

Wait. What does all this have to do with holistic treatments for depression and anxiety?

Well, I told Mom how I was feeling about calling a psychiatrist – something I’d probably feel less inclined to do if Wakana didn’t insist that it’s an absolute necessity. I’m angry that things haven’t been going well for me on that front, ashamed that I can’t just “snap out of it” and live a productive lifestyle, worried that I’m never going to find the right doctor and treatment … which leads to hopelessness, and feeling like I don’t deserve any better.

Mom said a bunch of things. She thinks the search for the psychiatrist is doing more harm than good and that the medications were doing more harm than good; I seem to be doing better without them. I’m inclined to agree with her – I’m still struggling AND I feel more like myself, more capable, more in control. Tuesday night / Wednesday morning I was able to act on my need and desire for intimacy with Fox for the first time in months – and thoroughly enjoy it! – whereas while I was on the sertraline HCl (and buspirone HCl) I felt … nothing. I also seem to be regaining my ability to tell when I’m not really hungry anymore and stop eating after I’ve had a reasonable portion / before becoming uncomfortably full. The only time I really feel, well, depressed is when I let myself get caught up in my own thoughts, to the exclusion of physical here-and-now interactive interpersonal reality. And when I first wake up. And when obstacles exceed my frustration tolerance, which seems to be lower than normal.

bossy ladyMom also gave me a long list of things I need to be doing to take care of myself, most of which she’d categorize as a “holistic” approach to treating depression. I need to watch what I eat, exercise, get out of the house, clean up and organize all the stuff cluttering my apartment, meditate, do yoga, join social groups, play music, get a job – or at least volunteer – and so on. Any “explanations” I try to provide for why these things are difficult for me – why I’m not already doing them, why I’ve withdrawn from them – are “excuses.” She says I have to “force” myself or “push” myself.

I’m tired of forcing and pushing myself. I need to take a couple moments (months? years?) to love myself. To care for myself. I need a hug.

I understand that I need to take some responsibility for my own well-being. The depression isn’t going to cure itself while I’m playing Oblivion and complaining about my lack of energy, motivation, confidence … But, can someone – anyone! – try to meet me halfway? If I could just do all the stuff Mom says I need to do, then we couldn’t be having this conversation. Clearly I need some kind of help to be able to do those things; when she says I should be doing them the message I get is that I’m a bad person for not doing them. A disgrace. A failure. An embarrassment.

I want to do these things for myself, I really do. I just need some kind of emotional support. Someone to not only tell me to do them, but to do them with me. Is that really so much to ask?

I looked up holistic treatments online and found a lot of the same things across websites:

  • healthy/balanced diet, including specific nutrients
    • SAM-e
    • Omega-3 fatty acids
    • folic acid
    • B-vitamins
    • kava
    • valerian
    • reducing caffeine and sugar intake
  • exercise (at least 20 minutes 3 times per week)
  • acupuncture
  • routines, goals, taking on or maintaining responsibilities
  • sleep

The websites in question are MedicineNet, WebMD, and Taking Charge. That last website, Taking Charge, includes a list of medications used to treat depression – some of which (dual-action) were new to me. This might be something to talk to my psychiatrist about, assuming I ever find one.

an orange butterfly and a medication bottle


Of course, the very first website that caught my eye is a giant multi-page advertisement for a supplement called Protazen. It includes a variety of nutrients – including some of those listed above – some of which the brain uses to create essential neurotransmitters such as dopamine, norepinephrine, epinephrine, and serotonin (according to the website). The idea of using natural supplements to support healthy brain chemistry is very appealing, especially if it’s possible to do so “without harmful side effects!”

To be honest the whole thing sounds too good to be true … except that they do clearly state that the supplement is not intended to treat clinical psychiatric disorders, and that results may vary. It’s intended to help people experiencing difficult emotional states, not serious medical issues. Consult your doctor first if you are taking antidepressants or other medications.

In other words, I do not recommend or endorse this product. I repeat, I do NOT endorse this product.

In fact, I’d really appreciate it if you’d take a look at the website and comment on this post to let me know whether you think the supplement is worth trying, whether there are likely to be health benefits. Is trying it worth the potential risks (financial, medical, mental, emotional, etc.)? What experiences have you had taking supplements?

But what if it can help, even if just a little bit? More energy, more motivation, an easier time concentrating, less fluctuations in mood, etc. I could buy it right now – 1 non-recurring 30-day supply for $40 – no phone calls, appointments, uncomfortable questions, stuck-up psychiatrists, battles with insurance companies, etc. required. It will be delivered straight to my door, likely within a week. If I don’t like it I can return whatever I don’t use within 30 days for a 50% refund. No psychiatrist or pharmaceutical has ever offered me that!

Beyond tempting.


7 thoughts on “Holistic Treatments for Depression and Anxiety

  1. First, congratulations on making the step to call both of the psychiatrists!

    I’m sorry to hear that your mother seems to be lacking empathy right now. You are right–depression can be made so much easier to cope with, and heal from, when there is someone you can count on to force you to do things, and who will do them with you. Have you tried discussing this with Fox? I agree that playing Oblivion will surely not cure depression–although I personally always cheer up a bit after speaking to Sheogorath (if you have the Shivering Isles expansion).

    As far as supplements go, I checked out the website for Protazen. Please note that I am NOT a doctor or a pharmacist or a scientist or anything of that nature. The following is just my opinion, and you can take it or leave it. And it is LONG. Sorry about that; I got carried away.

    Some of the ingredients in the base formula of Protazen are:

    L-Tyrosine: According to WebMD, this is one of the amino acids, and can be found in dairy products, meats, fish, eggs, nuts, beans, oats, and wheat. WebMD says it may NOT be effective in treating moderate depression (reputable scientific references suggest it does not, and at least one study in humans found that it might not be effective). (Source: http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-1037-TYROSINE.aspx?activeIngredientId=1037&activeIngredientName=TYROSINE)

    DL-phenylalanine: According to WebMD, this is a combination of D-phenylalanine and L-phenylalanine. We don’t have any idea what D-phenylalanine does (it is not an essential amino acid). L-phenylalanine is an essential amino acid and is found in protein-rich foods like meat, fish, eggs, cheese, and milk. And according to WebMD, there is insufficient evidence that this works for depression, though it might. (Source: http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-653-DL-Phenylalanine+PHENYLALANINE.aspx?activeIngredientId=653&activeIngredientName=DL-Phenylalanine+%28PHENYLALANINE%29&source=2)

    SAMe (S-adenosyl-L-methionine disulfate p-toluenesulfonate): According to WebMD, this is LIKELY effective in treating depression. So, you know, it might be worth a shot. Except that the Protazen website does not give you the exact amounts of this found in their “proprietary blend.” WebMD states that the correct dosage of this for the treatment of depression is 400 to 1600 mg per day. It would probably be better to just find SAMe at your local pharmacy. It can be a little pricey, but it might work. (Source: http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-786-SAMe.aspx?activeIngredientId=786&activeIngredientName=SAMe)

    So: my reaction to the base formula of Protazen would be to ignore it (especially due to its lack of information regarding the amount of its ingredients found in each pill), and possibly try SAMe by itself.

    As far as the rest of the Protazen formulas go, the ingredients indicate that there really isn’t anything special about them. All of these things are sold at your local pharmacy, usually for much less money than what the Protazen people are asking.

    Since we are specifically talking about depression (and the Protazen formulas), I should include the following:

    According to WebMD, 5-HTP might possibly be effective for treating depression, but they warn that it should not be taken at this point in time until more is known, as it may cause serious side effects. (Source: http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-794-5-Hydroxytryptophan+5-HTP.aspx?activeIngredientId=794&activeIngredientName=5-Hydroxytryptophan+%285-HTP%29&source=2)

    I am not sure if you have trouble sleeping, but if you do, you may think melatonin may help. Be warned, however, that according to WebMD, melatonin may WORSEN depression in some people. So you may wish to stay away from that. (Source: http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-940-MELATONIN.aspx?activeIngredientId=940&activeIngredientName=MELATONIN&source=2)

    You listed Omega-3 fatty acids, folic acid, B-vitamins, and other things in your post. General opinion as to whether supplements help or hinder is quite divided, with a good majority of doctors saying that they have no clear benefit unless they are prescribed due to a deficiency. Here are a couple of articles: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/multivitamins/NU00651 and http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/news/20130204/with-benefits-unproven-why-do-millions-of-americans-take-multivitamins

    In the spirit of full disclosure, I will tell you that I personally take supplements for vitamin D3, fiber, and a multivitamin that includes Vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, E, and K, as well as a bunch of minerals (see the Ingredients tab on this page if you are interested: http://www.walgreens.com/store/c/walgreens-a-thru-z-select-ultimate-women%27s-multivitamin/multimineral-supplement-tablets/ID=prod6015955-product). The multivitamin and D3 are not on doctor’s orders–I am one of those millions of people that has decided to take them anyway, although I will say that after taking the vitamin D3 for a long time, I had my levels checked, and they were right smack dab in the middle of normal–so it’s likely I did have a deficiency.

    Goose takes the vitamin D3 (at pain specialist’s recommendation), the multivitamin, and a fish oil supplement.

    What I would do, in the end, is talk to your primary care physician (not a mental health professional). I know it is possible to check your levels for some things, and it’s quite possible to have a deficiency if you do not eat a healthy diet (yeah, that would be me!). Your primary care physician will be better able to suggest dosages than anyone else. I would also speak to him or her (or your pharmacist) about SAMe, just to ensure that nothing you try ends up interacting.

    Have you tried aromatherapy at all?


    • Thank you so much for your informative comment!

      Fox and I have sort of talked about things we can do to get out of the house, having fun and interacting with other people. We tend to struggle with acting on it, though, especially when the time comes to actually leave the house; we’ll enable each other to stay home instead of pushing each other to go out. I think that to some extent we could do some of it together, but it would really help me to have someone else (not Mom or Fox) to motivate me.

      From your feedback, it seems like the Protazen formula isn’t really worth it; I’d be better off with SAM-e and possibly a couple other supplements, all of which I can get from my pharmacy. I was taking Vitamins B and D and Omega-3 for a while and they seemed to help. I’ve been thinking I should go back on them again.

      I find it interesting that you suggested talking to my primary care physician about levels/dosages instead of a mental health professional. Can you elaborate on your reasoning? Would talking to a nutritionist also be advisable?

      I have had aromatherapy in conjunction with massage and found it to be very relaxing. I haven’t been particularly consistent with it, though; nor have I tried stand-alone aromatherapy. That’s another option Mom keeps recommending. I think it could be worth trying … I just need to, you know, actually try it!


  2. The few psychiatrists I have actually been in contact with spend far less time with me and Goose than our primary care physicians do (per appointment and overall–it’s really quite annoying). So for the most part we are biased against them, and tend to go to primary care physicians for everything we can get away with. If you find that you are comfortable with your mental health professional, then I’m sure his or her opinion could be valuable. As far as a nutritionist goes, I honestly could not say, as I have never consulted one.

    We occasionally dabble in aromatherapy, and we have quite a few oils for different things. It can get a bit expensive if you have a number of issues, but it might be beneficial to simply get something for energy. Amrita is the brand we normally use, so that’s the one I will link to. If you go to their essential oils page (http://amrita.net/essential-oils.aspx), you can search the page (usually Ctrl+F) for keywords like “depression,” “mood,” “uplifting,” etc. if you need some ideas. I find orange to be very uplifting, so we have some of that. We also have an orange ginger body lotion (http://www.bathandbodyworks.com/product/index.jsp?productId=11669884) that I like to use on the mornings that I feel lethargic. It could be a placebo effect at play, but it does make me feel better nevertheless.


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  4. Sadly, those closest to you sometimes struggle to see what you are really going through and just want to fix it instead of offering support. If you can, getting out everyday for a walk is a must. Have a look at the psychiatrist who is happy to help you with mind control rather than medication if you really dont want to take it. Don’t get me wrong.. I am a firm believer that if you need anti depressants, you should take them, but if you really feel they are affecting you, some psychiatrists and psychologists are able to help you to gain control back by mind control. It’s all about you taking your life back. Good luck with finding it.. Keep going. It’s taken me years to be back in control of my own life .. xx


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