Finding Joy: A Mind-Body-Spirit Guide
A Western psychiatrist draws on Eastern traditions to guide us out of depression.
The Case for Supplements
Over the last decade, a growing number of studies have shown that these supplements can help with depression, says Gordon. "I've looked at the evidence, and there's enough evidence that these may be helpful. We don't know for sure -- but I prescribe them because there's no downside, if they're taken in reasonable doses. And there's enough evidence to suggest that they might be helpful," he tells WebMD.
Published studies have shown a relationship between B vitamins and depression, Gordon says. "Whether it causes depression, we don't know. But studies show that increasing levels of B vitamins -- particularly when taking antidepressants -- improves mood. The evidence is not ironclad, but enough is there that I feel very comfortable prescribing it."
Omega-3s are known to reduce inflammation, protect against heart disease and cancer, and help with arthritis, he says. "It stands to reason that if there is any inflammatory process going on in depression -- and there may be -- omega-3s might help. Studies suggest that omega-3s help with bipolar disorder, but the evidence is not as strong about whether it helps depression alone."
Rachel's symptoms improved very quickly -- with a low-dose antidepressant, nutritional supplements, and counseling to help her deal with pressing family issues, Emmons reports. She was willing to try Ayurvedic medicine and Buddhism to gain better balance in her life -- to gain control over her thoughts and quiet her mind, he says.
"With antidepressants, there's always a point at which the drug just doesn't seem to work well anymore and when side effects begin appearing," he says. "For the vast majority of people, they are not an adequate long-term solution. Over time, if you're living as stressfully as before, if your diet hasn't changed, you're still overresponding to stress, you're going to get depressed again."
Step 2: Your Mind-Body Type
In Ayurvedic medicine (used for centuries in India), there are three mind-body types -- Air, Fire, and Earth, explains Emmons. Each is based on your body type -- whether you're a thin, wiry type, or strong and muscular, or a bit on the hefty side. Other patterns -- whether you tolerate hot weather, have straight or curly hair, get constipated easily or not, sleep easily or not -- are all factored into your Ayurvedic type.