Related Topics: Depression, Features

Dealing With Anxiety And Depression At Menopause

Menopausal mood swings and anxiety are not uncommon as your hormone balance changes, but if it is something more persistent then you may need some extra natural help from bioidentical hormones and supplements.

Dr Jeffrey Dach

Depression, Anxiety and Panic Attacks are a major disability. Many sufferers of these symptoms take SSRI type anti-depressant drugs such as (Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil etc.) and many are looking for an alternative because of adverse side effects, or perhaps the drugs are simply not working for them. In this article, we will take a look at what causes depression, the commonly used anti-depressant drugs and the natural alternatives.

Causes of Depression:

Depression is thought to be caused by a deficiency of a chemical neurotransmitter in the brain called Serotonin. The abundant presence of Serotonin in the brain promotes feelings of well being, calm, personal security, relaxation, confidence and concentration. Serotonin Deficiency, on the other hand, has been associated with depression, anxiety, alcoholism, insomnia, violence, aggression, suicide and compulsive gambling.

Serotonin is one of many chemicals in the brain which allow the brain cells to talk to each other, and without this chemical communication between brain cells or neurons, we would be unable to have creative thought.

Side effects of Anti-Depressant Drugs:

The SSRI type anti-depressant drugs work by helping increase Serotonin in the brain. The SSRI drugs can be very effective in the short term for depression and anxiety. However, they come at the cost of unpleasant side effects such as nausea, constipation, sexual dysfunction with loss of sexual desire, inhibition of orgasm, and impotence.

Another problem is that SSRI-type drugs are associated with violent or suicidal behavior. Peter R. Breggin, M.D., author of the book, Talking Back to Prozac, says that SSRI type drugs should not be prescribed to children under age of 18, because of suicidal behavior, suicide attempts or related behavior like self-harm, hostility, and aggression. A similar warning was issued in an August 2005 report from Europe’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use.

5-Hydroxy-Tryptophan :

You might ask the simple question wouldn’t it be more logical to relieve depression by increasing the amount of Serotonin in the brain with a natural substance which has none of the side effects of the SSRI-type antidepressant drugs? The answer to this question is, Yes, this can be done very easily by oral ingestion of a naturally occurring essential amino acid called Tryptophan which is the immediate precursor to Serotonin in the brain’s manufacture of Serotonin.

Tryptophan is found in many foods, is safe and can be purchased at the health food store in the form of 5HTP (5-hydroxy-tryptophan) capsules. There are numerous medical research studies showing that 5HTP is safer and more effective than the SSRI-type antidepressant drugs. Dr Poeldinger compared the antidepressant effects of 5-HTP to a prescription Prozac-like drug, and he published his findings in 1991 in the Journal of Psychopathology. The 5-HTP patient group showed better treatment response than the Prozac-type drug group, yet had significantly fewer and less severe side effects.

Dosage and Safety of 5HTP:

There is a vast body of published scientific literature on 5-HTP showing its safety. The main side effect of 5-HTP is gastrointestinal (GI) upset gas, nausea, diarrhea, and cramping. The recommended 5HTP dosage is to start at a relatively low dose of 25 to 50 mg and increase gradually up to a maximum of 200 – 300 mg daily. The B vitamins are co-factors for the use of Tryptophan, so it is a good idea to supplement with B vitamins when taking 5-HTP.

***** There is one note of caution: Do not combine 5HTP with anti-depressant drugs unless you have medical supervision. Similarly, those wishing to reduce or eliminate their anti-depressant drugs with 5-HTP, should do so only with medical supervision.

St. John’s Wort (Hypericum):

There is a large body of medical literature showing the benefits of this herb in the treatment of depression. A recent study by Dr Szegedi published in the March 5, 2005 issue the British Medical Journal, compared St Johns Wort to a SSRI antidepressant drug. One group of 122 patients received 900 mg of St. Johns Wort three times per day for 6 weeks and the other group received the SSRI drug.

At the end of the trial, Dr Szegedi concluded that St. Johns Wort extract (hypericum extract) had fewer side effects and was just as effective as the SSRI drug in the treatment of moderate to severe depression with fewer side effects.

Dosage, Side effects and Safety of St Johns Wort:

We don’t really know how St Johns Wort works, but it seems clear that it works very well. When you buy St. Johns Wort supplements, you should look for a label that says it contains at least 0.3 percent of Hypericin and Pseudohypericin. The usual dosage is 300 mg to 1800 mg per day of the 0.3 per cent extract. Side effects are mainly minor gastrointestinal complaints and mild allergic reactions like itching.

***** Because of possibility of drug interaction, St John’s Wort should not be used in combination with any other drugs or SSRI anti-depressants unless under medical supervision. The American Society of Anesthesiologists issued a warning in 1999 against taking St. Johns Wort just before surgery because of a dangerous interaction with anesthetics.

In conclusion:

There are safe natural supplements that can chase away the “blues”. However,as usual, it is recommended that you work closely with a knowledgable health care professional.

More information:

Of all the natural remedies for depression perhaps one of the most effective yet least discussed is natural progesterone. How it does this is to support mood, primarily through the action of the enzyme monoamine oxidase and it helps elevate serotonin levels naturally.

Progesterone is particularly important for its influence in the metabolism of serotonin and dopamine, both known to play a role in depression. For many women the relaxing qualities of progesterone help with anxiety and sleep, but if depression is more severe then Dr Dach recommends using a combination hormone cream with both progesterone and oestrogen such as Wellsprings 20-1.

The book referred to in Dr Dach’s article is Talking Back to Prozac: What Doctors Won’t Tell You About Today’s Most Controversial Drug, by Peter R. Breggin, MD © 1994, St. Martin’s Press.’t-underestimate-the-effect-of-stress-on-your-hormonal-symptoms/

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Comments 7
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AnnA Rushton | 6:27 pm, November 13th, 2016

20-1 is the best cream for the majority of your symptoms Julie but not for the weight gain.If that is your biggest priority then Serenity would be better and you can switch to 20-1 later to help with the panic attacks later.

AnnA Rushton | 6:21 pm, November 13th, 2016

With those symptoms we suggest you use 20-1 to help with the moods and the vaginal dryness.

Julie | 4:55 am, November 11th, 2016

I suffer mid cycle from panic attacks , often waking me at 4am in morning. I awake in a cold sweat & also very anxious about the day a head. I used to be a very calm chilled out person & i amfinding now. That I have no patience what so ever, im irritable & paranoid that people are talking about me. I just want to lock myself away & not speak to anybody.
I have also lost my confidence in going out & socialising. Also hate my appearance and gone from having my hair styled once a week to not at all. I am such a grump and feel I am going mad. I also have weight gain & eat virtually nothing, exercise regularly & so this makes me feel even more upset with myself. I have terrible vaginal dryness too. Can you tecommend which creme to use. Thank you

AnnA Rushton | 6:16 pm, September 4th, 2015

Many people find simple remedies such as Bach REscue Remedy or St John’s Wort Helpful and it might be useful also to consult a homoeopath for a specific remedy just for your own symptoms.

Jefferson Cager | 11:51 pm, September 3rd, 2015

Oftentimes women may be able to feel an anxiety attack coming on. Do you have any advice as to how to recognize the start of one and how to stop it in its tracks before it progresses further?

AnnA Rushton | 11:00 am, August 5th, 2015

Unless you are a vegan or vegetarian who needs B12 specifically Shirley it is not usually recommended to take individual vitamins but to have them as part of B complex. From your symptoms you could consider using a progesterone cream such as Serenity to help with the memory and arthritis but dizzy spells need to be investigated by a doctor as they can have a number of causes. This article may also be helpful:

Shirley | 11:56 am, August 4th, 2015

Health check j can’t find it!

I’ve been taking Holland and Barrett vitamin b but had constant toilet visits and burning urine. I’ve stopped taking no burning but need the energy of the b vitamins can i take b12 alone?

I’m in the menopause and have dizzy spells loss memory and trouble walking when I first wake. My mum has arthritis and I seem to follow her medical history so any help now would be a good thing so thinking of taking vitamin b12 only. I had stomach ulcers when I was young and suffer with my stomach at times but b vitamin helped this.

I’ve never had problems with b vitamins before so quite odd. Any advice appreciated. Thanks

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